Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Buehrle imitation

When he's on — and he has been of late — Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox makes pitching look easy.

Move the ball in and out, up and down. Change speeds. Work fast.

He's a pitching coach's mantra come to life.

I sat the the outfield cheap seats Wednesday night watch Brian Duensing, an emergency fill-in starter for Francisco Liriano, do a passable Buerhle imitation.

He threw just nine pitches in the first inning. Every one of them was a strike. He threw 16 pitches in the second inning; 12 strikes, four balls. Two of those balls were to Alexi Ramirez, who is well-known to have little regard for the strike zone, so I assume Duensing was trying to miss the zone with those pitches.

For the game, Duensing threw 64 pitches: 48 strikes, 16 balls, a very impressive 3-to-1 ratio. I doubt we'll ever see Liriano display that kind of control.

It wasn't a flawless performance. He did give up a couple of homers. I doubt that he convinced anybody that if one of the current starters got hurt he'd be no major downgrade.

But for one night, he got the job done.


Two other keys to that game were players who have had bad seasons so far.

Jesse Crain picked up the "W" with two scoreless innings. He allowed leadoff hits in both frames, then induced around-the-horn double plays from right-handed sluggers (Paul Konerko in the sixth, Carlos Quentin in the seventh).

And Alexi Casilla had a pair of RBI hits, one of them a double, and stole a base — and in the field was the pivot man on both of Crain's DPs.

We can file this game under "blind pigs find acorns," or we can hope this is a sign that what was expected from them might still be forthcoming.

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