Jeremy Guthrie is a pitcher who typically manages to out pitch his peripherals. Why? For one, he manages to keep his HR/FB rate low (at least in 2010). The league average HR/FB rate is 10.6%. Last year, his HR/FB rate was 8.5%. Dave Cameron on fangraphs recently argued that inducing long flyballs which fall just short of the fence isn't a repeatable skill (thanks to dfa who pointed this article out to me). Eventually, a low HR/FB rate will catch up to a pitcher. Today, Guthrie couldn't keep those flyballs in the park and that was the difference.
Otherwise, the two Jeremies were quite similar today. Neither pitcher was dominating, but both of them managed to pitch a complete game. Both pitchers typically sat in the low 90s and mixed in their breaking and off-speed enough to keep hitters off balance. Guthrie and Hellickson punched out five and three hitters respectively. Neither pitcher gave up many walks. Hits wise, Guthrie and Hellickson gave up seven and four hits respectively.
Unfortunately, the game came down to a key sequence in the bottom of the second inning. Evan Longoria hit a sharp bouncer at Mark Reynolds who attempted to bare hand the ball before throwing it. Unfortunately, Reynolds completely whiffed the ball thus allowing Longoria to reach first. I'm not sure if bare handing the ball was necessary. The ball was hit sharply and Longoria isn't exactly Ichiro. But I didn't have the best angle to tell if a rushed throw was needed to throw out Longoria. For now, I'll give Reynolds the benefit of the doubt. Matt Joyce stepped to the plate next and hammered a pitch to the right field stands. 2-0, Rays. And that was pretty much the ball game. Johnny Damon added a solo shot later to push the score to 3-0. But the game was well over by then with Hellickson in command. The O's just couldn't square up on him. Hellickson was in and out, up and down, fast and slow (no TWSS please). Lee probably had the best night. He managed a hit to right field and scorched another ball, but it went directly to a fielder for an out. Otherwise, it was a parade of weakly hit balls.
After the game, I decided to work my connections to see if I could get any players on the phone to explain Hellickson's dominance. Luckily, a few players were gracious enough to talk to me.
Derrek Lee - "In the National League, we don't face guys who can throw in the 90s. And the count starts at 2-0. I'm still adjusting but that's what the game is all about, adjustments. I look forward to making more adjustments while hitting in the three spot."
Luke Scott - "I don't need to see Hellickson's birth certificate. I know where he was born. You want to know where? Like his name begins, H-E-L-L because that was what it was like facing him. I tip my hat to him. And if you see Amy K. Nelson, tell her to accept my facebook friend request."
Adam Jones - "I don't know what to say. Hellickson is good y'all. That's all I have to say. But regarding that Hottie Invitational, why is there no Halle Berry? Have you seen Swordfish? All I see is a bunch of bony ass white chicks."