Rice: Pitching, pitching and more pitching

By Jonathan Yardley - February 18, 2007

Scoreless in the bottom of the third - you can count on great pitching and aggressive baserunning with these two teams, and the defense ain't half-bad, either.

Our home plate umpire today, Jesse Moreno, certainly gets excited about every call. He announced Joe Savery’s first pitch of the day with a sudden, emphatic punch of both hands to his right. He’s also going with short sleeves on this day, with the other umpires donning jackets in 50-degree temperatures. Moreno is replacing Danny Mascorro, who left in the middle innings of yesterday’s game with an undisclosed injury.

Savery is reportedly on a limit of five innings or 75 pitches, whichever comes first, as he works his way back from an arm injury that caused him to miss the second half of 2006. Savery looks sharp so far, retiring the first six batters on a fly ball, three weak grounders, and two strikeouts. He got Jason Tweedy to end the second on a filthy curve in the dirt.

For Long Beach, Omar Arif is more of a prototypical ‘crafty lefthander.’ His fastball usually ranges from 84-86 mph, but he did muscle up to 88 mph on one that missed the zone. His offspeed pitches have kept Rice off balance, and he erased his only walk with a double play in the second.

Savery has not topped 88 mph with his fastball today and ran into a bit of trouble in the third inning on consecutive one-out singles by the Nos. 8-9 hitters. A pitch in the dirt that could have been blocked allowed both runners to move up a base, but catcher Adam Zornes redeemed himself with a good block of home plate on the next play, a 3-2 put-out at the plate. First baseman Danny Lehmann, normally a catcher, did well to come home with the ball despite playing behind the bag.

Posted by Jonathan Yardley at 02:43 PM on February 18, 2007

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