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  1. One thing about Romo’s last pitch. It was much slower than his other sliders. Rolen was way out in front.

    Comment by San Francisco Slim — October 11, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

  2. No, the umpire was most definitely wrong last Friday.

    Comment by Frank — October 11, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  3. After seeing Hallion ring up Brandon Belt (a lefty no less) with pretty much the exact same pitch in the 2nd along with Baker’s stupidity in starting the runners Hanigan had to protect the outside corner there.

    Comment by HeiseyOnLife — October 11, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

  4. No, they technically weren’t. Read the rulebook

    Comment by Joe — October 11, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

  5. Yes, they technically were. Read the rule book. You’ll notice some words like, “immediately” and “routine effort”.

    Comment by yeah — October 12, 2012 @ 12:35 am

  6. They were not technically incorrect, as it is a judgment call, but they were thematically incorrect. The purpose of the infield fly rule was to prevent fielders to create double plays by intentionally dropping balls.

    Was there ever a point where someone thought that a ball halfway into the outfield was going to create any sort of a double play if it dropped? If not (which I would posit), then the umpire did not understand the PURPOSE of the rule, which is at least as bad as not being able to implement the rule.

    Not that I care about who won that game, particularly, but it’s worthwhile to note.

    Comment by B N — October 12, 2012 @ 12:55 am

  7. This. Once you have two strikes, you have to foul off those borderline pitches or you put it in the umpire’s hands (who will call you out 50% of the time, as the stats show).

    Interesting theory: The resulting bunches of 8-10 pitch at bats later in the game might have partly been the result of hitters latching on to this lesson of the day.

    Comment by B N — October 12, 2012 @ 12:57 am

  8. “Have too” is a pretty strong word there. Usually working one’s self into a situation where there’s a 50/50 chance of reaching base is a victory.

    Comment by Bhaakon — October 12, 2012 @ 1:14 am

  9. What’s the verdict? Did the Yankees and O’s produce a fifth incredible game in a row?

    Comment by jrogers — October 12, 2012 @ 2:25 am

  10. Seems to me. But the A’s and Tigers broke the streak.

    Comment by Oren — October 12, 2012 @ 2:34 am

  11. i totally disagree with the notion that romo’s final pitch was some sort of a “hanger” that he got away with. yes he was trying to go down and away. the ball did not go where he wanted it to. at all. but the pitch wasn’t just floating there to get clobbered. besides its great tailing action, the ball is also breaking down. it starts belt high and and then has a sharp downward break of about 3-4 inches. and it tailed all the way to the inside edge of the strikezone. rolen was toast. it wasn’t the pitch romo was trying to throw but ended up being a sublime frisbee slider. it was a mistake pitch with wiffle-ball action.

    Comment by swing 4 the cove — October 12, 2012 @ 2:43 am

  12. On a side note, I thought a couple strike zones of the CIN/SF series were a bit on the weird/inconsistent side. Game 5 was just a little random at the edges, but Game 3 was like… the incredible shrinking strike zone. It started very pitcher friendly, then ended pretty hitter friendly from my viewpoint. Didn’t seem to favor either team, but was just weird.

    Comment by B N — October 12, 2012 @ 3:27 am

  13. This really should be called the tale of 2 catchers. Three no-calls on borderline pitches immediately prior to Posey’s slam, and then Hannigan gets rung up on something that hadn’t been called those 3 times earlier. Hannigan is a great catcher. He knows what has been called throughout the game. Not calling it bias- Just calling for a computerized home plate umpire. Sure did make for a great story for Posey, though.

    Comment by andjusticeforall — October 12, 2012 @ 5:03 am

  14. Nice article. I would add to your analysis of the double play with Hanigan at the plate was definitely a pitch he should have swung at. The fact is Hallion’s strike zone was very inconsistent but if anything he tended to call a lot of strikes off the plate away. There is a reason that play is called a hit and run, because you are supposed to swing the bat, and that is under normal conditions, add the inconsistent and wide zone I would say Hallion would have called that pitch a strike far more than 50% of the time.

    The final pitch of the game is one of the strangest phenomenon in baseball, the back up slider. It seems like that pitch is successful far more often than you would expect form a hanging braking ball, but it acts so much different than any other pitch. Of course like any hanging pitch a fair number of them are going to be drilled, but if I had to choose something to hang up there it would definitely be Romo’s no dot slider. Also this is a guy that they have always handled with kid’s gloves. This was the 2nd time in this series that they used him for more than an inning, and it was his 35th pitch of the game. So definitely he was tired and hung a pitch. It is amazing how far he has come this year,

    Go Giants!

    Comment by Soledad — October 12, 2012 @ 5:35 am

  15. I’m surprised you would call Posey’s post-swing actions “showboating.” He watched it for maybe an extra half-second. Pretty unobjectionable if you ask me.

    Comment by Menthol — October 12, 2012 @ 10:23 am

  16. Awesome analysis of the called third strike to Hanigan! PITCHf/x allows us to do incredible things, like compare that call to similar calls from throughout the season. Thank you for putting that tool to such good use.

    Comment by BookWorm — October 12, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  17. I love how the story is “Mat Latos fucked up” and no credit is given to Posey. Someone’s a haterrrr!!! :)

    Comment by Beau — October 12, 2012 @ 11:48 am

  18. Absolutely NO credit given to the giants in this post. Pathetic.

    Comment by Beau — October 12, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  19. It was a terrible pitch.

    Comment by Sir — October 12, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  20. @ Commenters that are complaining about “credit for the giants” – Sullivan was rooting for the giants all through the live blog yesterday. I assume that this article is just trying to avoid bias, but comes off to interneters as insufficient praise, when any giants fan that watched after the Posey HR was shitting their pants in fear at all the opportunities that we gave the reds. Games are about more than one inning, and the G-men were barely there after going ahead yesterday. Our motto may be “Torture!” but it’s hardly good process.

    Comment by AK7007 — October 12, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

  21. @ Bhaakon – If you think your season rests on that one pitch, it does become “have to.” 50/50 odds are great, but not when the leverage index is through the roof.

    Comment by AK7007 — October 12, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  22. Likely. Now drowning his sorrows in a half-pint of horrendous “red ale.”

    Hopefully this superb result will put at least a temporary damper on the vicious Cincinnati race-hate that courses through that open wound of a city.

    Comment by Grover — October 12, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  23. Yeah but Hanigan had also seen Latos get some wide strikes also. In particular there was a called strike 3 earlier in the game w/Cain hitting that was if anything further outside than that, and I remember thinking at the time that Cain is definitely going to take note of it. Apparently he did, and Hanigan should have too.

    BTW, for anyone who questions Baker’s decision to send the runners I think it’s important to remember that Cain got Hanigan to GIDP earlier in the game on a slider. So I think Baker was very conscious there of trying to stay out of the conventional DP (and maybe Hanigan couldn’t pull the trigger because he got fooled and was expecting a slider there too). Not that that made it the right call (obviously in hindsight it wasn’t). But it does make it more understandable at least.

    Comment by ElJimador — October 12, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  24. What was the outcome? It was a great pitch.

    Comment by West Coast Baller — October 12, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  25. I’ve looked at that clip a hundred times, and I’d have to say, that wasn’t a wayward slider. IMO, it was that 2 seam FB or 2 seam changeup (where he takes a few MPH off) he throws. Maybe it was a mix up, but that wasn’t a slider. It’s the same pitch Vogelsong picked up in September that stemmed his problem.

    Comment by channelclemente — October 12, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

  26. Bhaakon,

    On the flip side, with the runners going, it’s 50/50 for making two outs. When you’re running out of outs, you can’t allow your win expectancy to drop from 27% to 13% for a 50/50 shot at getting to a 38% win expectancy.

    Comment by Peter — October 12, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

  27. IMO the pitch was so bad it was good. Rolen probably knew the pitch was meant to go down and away, because anyone that that has watched Romo would know that. Rolen was expecting that, and the pitch missed so much that it was in and underneath his hands, and he was dead.

    Comment by ibshimo2 — October 12, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  28. Looked on time to me.

    Comment by oolalaa — October 12, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

  29. giants defense won game 5- posey throws out bruce to stop a rally, crawford stabs a liner to save a run and pagan’s dive against navarro saves another.

    Comment by Oil Can Boyd — October 14, 2012 @ 1:48 am

  30. 50/50 is probably better odds than what happens if the ball is put into play, even on a line drive.

    Comment by piratesbreak500 — October 14, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  31. With Hanigan at the plate, he swings at that pitch at 1-2, or even 2-2. But it’s awful tempting to take at 3-2, knowing a walk loads the bases with nobody out. At 1-2 and 2-2, the batter’s more in survival mode and more likely to swing at a pitch like this out of the strikezone. The pitch (and call) just happened to line up in time with a 3-2 count.

    Comment by Tver001 — October 15, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

  32. Really nice article overall. Just wanted to share my thoughts.

    Really, a moment (about one second) to watch his ball fly off is considered “showboating”? Can we grant that perhaps Posey, after a full season of pounding as a catcher on his surgically repaired ankle and probably being very tired, might not want to jump out of the box at full speed if he doesn’t need to? It was pretty obvious to both Hanigan and Latos that it was out, but I’ve seen instances where the hitter assumed it was a homer and ran himself into a single when he could have had extra bases if he had started running instead of jogging to 1B. I would watch to be sure too, just in case I need to hustle into 2B, but why tire yourself out if you don’t have to?

    Regarding your question on Latos’ demeanor, you are right, we’ll never know exactly what it is, but since you got that one pitch sequence video running, maybe you can look at all the sequences in that at-bat, and perhaps the prior at-bat. Was he as obviously off the target in the other pitches? To your point, maybe it was just a bad pitch. Or maybe by examining his last 5-10 pitches, we see that he was pretty off on most of them.

    Still, he is famous among Giants fans for 1) pretending to hand a ball to a Giants fan and then chucking it out of the stadium (luckily, the ball did not injure anyone, but it did destroy the sun roof of one of the Giants announcers; it was a new car to boot) and 2) in the off-season, when signing three balls for charity, writing “I Hate SF” on them as well. So I can certainly buy that perhaps he was upset to be in that situation with Posey – especially if he doesn’t think that it is his ‘fault’ – and that affected his control. He has been clearly an emotional player before and that affected his judgement before, so it would not surprise me if he let the umpire affected him. Heck, I think it would have affected most people, few are as calm and collected to not be bothered by bad umpire calls.

    About the borderline pitch to Hanigan, I think most baseball fans would say he is at fault there. Looking at his stats, he is amazingly good at judging the strikezone, so I will give him that, but as a catcher in particular, he has got to know where the umpire considers to be borderline pitches, or worse, if the umpire is inconsistent with his calls (I don’t recall if this umpire was one, but the Giants announcing team kept on talking about how bad the umpires have been in calling strikes, both badly and inconsistently, which is even worse, as a pitch that is a ball in one instance is a strike in another; this is the worse playoffs I’ve heard). In addition, as good as he is in seeing the strikezone, umpires will defer to certain players, but given that he is not that well known, he’s probably not going to get the benefit of the doubt there. Baseball logic is that in a situation like that, you don’t put your fate in the hands of the umpire, you swing at borderline pitches.

    Furthermore, he should have known that the runners were running, he has to swing at any close pitches, just in case, that is something every ballplayer learns early. So what if you might be swinging at a potential ball four, you can’t really take that chance in the playoffs, you don’t know if you will get that chance again.

    Amazing though, how the game swings so much based on one pitch, thanks, very interesting.

    I think that it would be also interesting to see how that particular umpire on that day was calling pitches in the same region, up to that pitch. Whether just that one pitch or a whole bunch, was he that borderline on calling strikes with pitches in that area? You mention that Hallion was inconsistent: Hanigan should have known that and been prepared to swing at borderline pitches, just in case. If you let the pitch go and put it in the hands of the umpire, you get whatever he decides and, to my mind, what you deserve.

    That is something I don’t think baseball players nor fans really understand, the consequences of certain events and how that cascades to affect other events. Here, a strike led to a strike-out double-play but a ball leads to bases loaded, no outs. Given that it was a coin-flip between disaster and a great situation, he needed to swing and foul it off, and try his chances with his next pitch. Otherwise, you deserve the whatever the umpire decides for you.

    About Romo’s pitch, I see your point that the hitter could have blasted that for multiple RBI’s, but isn’t that how the best pitchers get to be the best? Their offerings are enough to keep the hitter guessing and missing, even if the pitch appears very hittable. Like all the times we hear that a pitch goes right down the middle for a strike. Any good hitter worth their salt should blast that like it was on a batting tee. But the pitcher is good enough to fool hitters enough to get those batting practices pitches in for a strike without disaster happening too often. So I see your point, but I think the greater point is that Romo is so good that he will get away with pitches like that because he has been so good with the slider.

    Still, very interesting how each of these pitches could have turned out much, much worse for the Giants while much better for the Reds.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — October 15, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

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