It's Friday morning right now, and last night's Felix Hernandez. While I know that Safeco's been playing extra extreme this year and that Felix kind of got bailed out by Michael Saunders in the top of the ninth, that was on pitch number 127, and so many of the first 126 were fantastic. Nothing against John Jaso or Casper Wells, who were also heroic in the sense that they helped a team win a baseball game, but Felix was sensational, and it's Felix that I don't want to stop writing about.game ended more than 13 hours ago, but still all I can do is think about
I wanted to do something today to honor Felix's performance. I already honored it last night, but Hector Noesi pitches today and Hector Noesi isn't Felix Hernandez so we might as well keep looking back instead of looking forward. What's the right way to honor Felix's complete-game shutout against the ? I don't know what the right way is, but this way focuses on Felix's at-bats against Ryan Kalish.
Last night, Felix faced Ryan Kalish three times, and Felix struck out Ryan Kalish three times. Even excluding Kalish, Felix still had another ten strikeouts in the game, but it was Kalish he made to look the worst. As such, I have ranked Felix's three strikeouts of Kalish below in order of awesomeness. Awesomeness was calculated by me according to a formula approved by a scientist. (My college degree asserts that I am a scientist.) Off we go!
Best strikeout (tie)
With one out in the third inning, Kalish took four straight pitches and wound up in a 2-and-2 count. The balls were both inside, off the plate, while the strikes were both right on the outer edge. Felix came after Kalish with a four-seam fastball, and Kalish might have been expecting it to tail away, like Felix's two-seamer. Instead it acted more like a cutter, headed toward the outer edge and hanging on the outer edge. Felix threw the pitch exactly where Miguel Olivo wanted it, in the lower outside corner of the strike zone, and Kalish could only walk away talking to himself.
Best strikeout (tie)
With one out in the fifth inning, Felix worked on Kalish again in the low-away corner. A curve that could've been called a strike was called a ball, and then Kalish missed with a bunt on a fastball. Felix came back with a curve near where the first curve was located and Kalish fouled it off. Kalish was thus behind 1-and-2, and surely he remembered that in his first at-bat, Felix threw him a four-seam fastball on the outer edge of the plate. What Felix did here was throw a changeup that looked like a four-seam fastball on the outer edge of the plate. It ran away from Kalish like Kalish was naked with a chainsaw, but not before Kalish committed to swinging and offered at a different pitch than he thought he was getting. What did you think of the pitch, Ryan Kalish?
Best strikeout (tie)
Shit was getting real by the top of the eighth, as Felix was on top of his game but the game was still scoreless. This time, Kalish led off, and he took a changeup or a two-seamer that missed high. I don't know which it was because I can hardly tell the difference. Felix came back with a changeup or a two-seamer that Kalish fouled off, and then Felix threw a perfect fastball back in the low-away corner. In another 1-and-2 count, Felix tried to get Kalish to chase a slider, but he missed too far inside and backed Kalish off. The count evened, even though 2-and-2 is still in the pitcher's favor, and this time Felix threw the slider he intended. He didn't mess with Kalish's timing. Kalish's timing on his swing was fine. He must have read a breaking ball, or anticipated a breaking ball. But his swing still missed because Felix threw a pitch that was a fastball for the first half and an air-to-surface missile for the second half.
For an idea of how this pitch broke, Miguel Olivo caught it with his glove on the ground. PITCHf/x puts it just below the strike zone at the front of the plate. If the trajectory of this baseball toward the end of its flight were a slope, it would make for a very challenging hike. Your knees and calves would beg for mercy! Much like Ryan Kalish did. Sorry, Ryan Kalish, no mercy for you, per the King's orders.
Ryan Kalish spent a lot of time last night staring off into space. Unfortunately for Kalish, the answers were not to be found in space, for there were no answers.