The Bees struggled to get anything going against Fresno starting pitcher Luiz Cruz on Friday night, mustering just seven hits in their 9-2 loss to the Grizzlies. Cruz went six innings and struck out nine, a season-high for the Fresno pitcher.
Additionally, the Grizzlies had innings in which they scored three, two and four runs respectively, piling it on at Smith's Ballpark.
Conversely, Salt Lake's runs were courtesy of first baseman Marc Krauss in the fourth inning when his solo home run prevented a Bees shutout. Salt Lake's other run was in the ninth off a sacrifice fly from newcomer Kaleb Cowart, scoring Ryan Jackson from third.
While Friday night's game wasn't the worst of the season for Salt Lake in terms of batting, hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports. When you have a baseball coming at you anywhere from 80-100 miles per hour, not to mention the various number of pitches that can curve and slide on their way to the plate, getting the bat on the ball can prove to be a challenge.
While the task of getting just a piece of the ball looks nearly impossible to the naked eye, Bees outfielder Daniel Robertson claims it's not as hard as some might think.
“It’s hard, but the only reason why it’s difficult is probably because you don’t do it that often,” Robertson said. “You’ve gotta understand, our bodies are incredible and can adjust to anything that you really put them to. Over and over and over ... you’re training your eyes.”
And the training doesn’t come easy. Whether it’s from the hand of an actual pitcher or from various pitching machines, players spend countless number of hours hitting pitch after pitch to get used to the motion of each one.
By learning how to react to each pitch, Robertson and company have more options with the pitches that come across the plate. If it’s a fastball, players are more likely to send it up the middle or pull it down the line, whereas if it’s a breaking ball, there’s a better chance of that ball heading for the other direction.
“The best way I can describe it is you’re looking for something to come straight out of the hand, and if it’s got any movement, you usually want to hit it to right field to be honest,” the right-handed batter Robertson said.
Not only do batters have to read and recognize what pitches are coming at them from just 60 ½ feet away, they have to do it in fractions of a second. Because of this, players are always looking for ways to remain a step ahead by analyzing the pitcher and determining if any of the pitches are being tipped or cued.
While tipping and picking pitches is alive and well in baseball, it is still extremely hard to accurately predict most of the incoming pitches.
“You try to pick pitches, every person is trying to do it because you never know what can happen,” Robertson said. “A guy can be tipping it … But mostly everybody you face pays pretty good attention.”
Robertson and the rest of the players who bat from one side of the plate have to deal with the struggle of hitting pitches that break away from them, but for one Bee in particular, that’s not an issue.
Second baseman Alex Yarbrough is one of the few switch-hitting batters on this team, and because of it has an advantage over most pitchers. Being able to hit from either side of the plate, Yarbrough never has to worry about any pitches breaking low and away, and is sympathetic to those who do.
“I stand in on curveball machines sometimes, lefty on lefty, and I don’t know how anybody does it to be honest,” Yarbrough said. “I’ve switch-hit since I was about 10 years old, so I’ve never seen a breaking pitch from the other side, but it is tough.”
The Bees will try to improve on their performance from Friday when they host the Grizzlies in game three of their series Saturday evening.
GAME NOTES: SP Tyler DeLoach went 3 2/3 innings with four walks and four strikeouts … In his actual Triple-A debut, Kaleb Cowart went 0-for-3 at the plate with an RBI (sacrifice fly) ... The Bees committed three errors in the loss ... The attendance was 7,418 … The Grizzlies are the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.