Sometimes analyzing a baseball game is really simple. Even better, sometimes playing the game is just that simple. And often, simplicity is elegant. Scott Shaw’s (picutre) outing Wednesday night at Keyspan Park falls into all three categories.
Shaw gave up just four singles over eight shutout innings, fanning four without walking a batter. His manager Edgar Alfonzo said he was “really good.” Shaw, in the preferred verbiage of the younger generation, said of his start, “it feels awesome. I couldn’t be happier with how I pitched.”
Shaw’s mode of attack was very clear: throw the fastball, throw the fastball and then throw his fastball for strikes. Of his 82 pitches, 66 (80%) were fastballs. He threw first pitch strikes to over 70% of the hitters he saw.
Beyond pitch selection, Shaw’s location choice was simple too. “We weren’t even going in and out much,” the big righty said, “first pitch, we were throwing it down the middle and down in the zone.”
One of the remarkable things about Wednesday was the turnaround from Shaw’s last start on Friday night when he didn’t make it out of the first inning against Oneonta when he said he was “tying to be too fine.” Shaw said he made no mechanical adjustments in between starts, but concentrated on his heater in the bullpen. A week ago, in a conversation with Nick Carr (who also pitched well Wednesday), Carr pointed out that there are times when a pitcher needs to say, “F--- it, I’m throwing my fastball.” I asked Shaw whether that was his mentality Wednesday. In response, Shaw’s face brightened and he replied, “that’s exactly what it was. With the wind blowing straight in, there was absolutely no fear.”
Shaw’s fastball lived at 88 or 89 mph nearly all night, touching 90 on occasion. He mixed in a few effective curveballs and changeups, although as he pointed out he “didn’t need them.” His slider, which he generally threw ahead in the count to righties, was his least effective pitch, since it ended well out of the strike zone.
The Cyclones did all of their scoring in the fifth on RBI doubles from CF Sean Ratliff and SS Matt Smith. Ratliff has made a nice adjustment in the last few days with the help of a teammate. I’ll write more about the subject on Thursday.
Stephen Clyne worked a 1-2-3 ninth. Inspired by Shaw before him perhaps, Clyne threw nothing but sinkers, sitting at 91, 92. Alfonzo called his sinker, “a big league pitch.”
Notes: Zach Lutz, recovering from a hematoma, hopes to return to practice in the next few days, although he’s still a few weeks out from playing in a game his manager thinks….Kirk Nieuwenhuis had some kind of rapid or irregular heartbeat after Tuesday’s game according to Alfonzo and was held out of Wednesday’s game strictly as a precaution. He is not expected to miss any more time. … With Ratliff in center, Eric Campbell played left and made a terrific running catch crashing into the wall in foul territory in the left-field corner on the game’s opening play.