With little fanfare, DeSalvo took the mound at Yankee Stadium on Monday night to face the Mariners in what was the American League's only night game on the slate. It's easy to assume that in his entire career, he never faced a hitter of Ichiro Suzuki's caliber, and it sure looked like it when Ichiro led off the game with a double to right. Three batters later, Raul Ibanez would single him home for a 1-0 Seattle lead, and things looked a bit grim.Here I have to tweak Mr. Goldman for the fact that DeSalvo's not in BP07, while Sean Henn, Chase Wright, and Wil Nieves, all of whom have figured in the early-season Yankee plot, are in the one-sentence "Lineouts" of the Yankee chapter. Obviously, the injury problems have forced the Yanks to dig deeper than they otherwise would, but I suspect BP's readers might wish they could see full PECOTAs of some of those players in the book (DeSalvo's isn't even online yet).
Over the next six innings, DeSalvo would give up just one more hit, finishing the night with seven innings and just the one run. DeSalvo would walk three, including the first two batters of the third inning when his command troubles briefly appeared, and not strike out a single Mariner. It was one of the most dominating-yet-not-dominating performances you'll see, and awfully fun to watch. In the postgame press conference, DeSalvo mentioned how a pre-game meeting with catcher Jorge Posada limited his arsenal to just three pitches -– fastball, slider, changeup -- in order to keep things simple. But that was a simplification in itself, as DeSalvo mixed in six pitches once you break down all the variants. He threw both a two- and four-seam fastball, with the latter sitting at 88-91, and the former featuring better movement. He also occasionally mixed in what looked like a cutter, which featured late horizontal break. His slider is more of a slurvy, show-me offering, but the changeups were special. DeSalvo's natural mechanics have both a body turn and a hiccup, both which add to the deception of his pitches, especially on his off-speed offerings. His arm action is fantastic on his straight change, and then he also throws what scouts often refer to as a "changeup off a changeup", as the pitch is another 3-6 mph less than normal change, while featuring more fade. Posada called a wonderful game, stirring up DeSalvo's arsenal, and DeSalvo himself -- a player with a long record of praise for his makeup and mound demeanor -- looked like a 15-year-veteran on the mound, working quickly, showing no signs of emotion either good or bad, and showing no fear by challenging hitters at every opportunity.
Six-Piece, Extra Crispy: Jeff Weaver's string of disaster starts--allowing as many or more runs as innings pitched, per our own Jim Baker--reaches six in a row with another pair this week. As scientists sift through the rubble of baseball history to determine if that in fact is a record, the good news is that Weaver's ERA dropped from 18.26 to 14.32 in that span. Given that the Mariner offense has scored just 13 runs in those six starts, one wonders if they've been in on the let's-all-mail-it-in plan all along. On the off chance that it's the Mariner uniform which is the source of the trouble--after all, Weaver has yet to pitch a non-disaster start in one--our fashion consultant suggests more appropriate attire for his next outing.
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