Yoooooook hits Roy Halladay very, very well. Which is to say Youkilis hits everyone well, but he's owned Roy to the tune of a .938 OPS over his career (sweet, free Play Index trial until Nov 20th!) In 2009 Youk went 4 for 9 with a walk. Ugly. First and foremost, click here to check out Youkilis's hot zones. Basically he loves the ball down and in, or anywhere on the inside or middle of the plate. His only vulnerabilities are up and away. Will our hero stay away from this patient slugger?
The first time Youkilis faced Halladay this year was July 19th, a complete game six hitter thrown by the good Doctor. Youk managed 2 of the Sox 6 hits, a double and a single. How'd he do it? Click to enlarge it.
- Double to Left Two Seamer (called strike), Curve (in play)
- Single to Right Two seam (called strike), change (ball), fastball* (in play)
- Ground Out Two seam (in play)
- Ground Out Cutter (called strike), two seam (ball), change (foul), cutter (ball), curve (in play).
Strange. Halladay stayed inside almost exclusively for the first three at bats. It burned him the first two times before he got away with one later. I wonder if Halladay didn't figure Yook would look away so tried to bust him inside? That is almost assuredly what Roy thought in the third at bat. Youkilis offered at the first pitch he saw and ground out to first base.
The final at bat is just a nice job by Halladay. Starts away with the backup two seamer, misses low with a change before going inside then out to get the rollover. Really nice stuff. What about the next time out? Halladay was about as bad as he gets on August 19th, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) in only 5 innings. The horror!
- Strikeout Looking: Two seam (ball), two seam (ball), cutter (called strike, lulz), two seam (ball), cutter (foul), two seam (called strike, STFD).
- Single to left: Cutter (called strike), Fastball* (in play)
- Grounder to second: Cutter (called strike), change (ball), change (ball), fastball* (called strike), fastball* (foul), two seam (in play).
It is apparent that Kevin Youkilis's reputation as a whiny bitch precedes him, as he doesn't seem to get many calls. His strikeout features a pitch WELL off the plate in addition to strike three which is debatable but probably still a strike. Yook raps a solid single on one of the in-between fastballs that Halladay throws. In accordance with public opinion, I tried to label the fastballs as only two seam or cutter, but to me this and the other asterisked pitches weren't either. In any event, no chance Roy Halladay wanted to throw a straight fastball down and in.
The final at bat features one of the heaviest sinkers I've noticed Halladay throw (the last pitch in the sequence) as well as back to back change ups. Unusual. Looking at all the pitches thrown that night you see a more concerted effort by the Jays battery to stay away from Youkilis, especially when compared to the previous start. Did he do anything different during his third and final start versus Youkilis and the Sox?
- Double to left: Two seam (ball), curve (called strike), two seam (foul), cutter (foul), change (ball), curve (in play)
- Fly out to deep CF: Two seam (ball), two seam (in play)
- Strike out looking: Curve (called strike), cutter (whiff), curve (ball), curve (ball), two seam (GTFO)
The last at bat is an inspiration. Halladay had no intention of coming anywhere near Youk during this encounter, the ump and the batter (the player?) did their best to play along. Earlier we see something strange: Youkilis hammers Roy's curveball over and again. Halladay was not at his best on this day either; surrendering 4 runs in six innings, including a home run to Rocco. These things happen. He left too many pitches on the inside part of the plate to Youkilis, a mistake many men have made before. The first at bat especially featured a number of pitches that Halladay didn't put where he wanted.
Overall, Youkilis is an incredibly patient hitter willing to wait out even the great Roy Halladay. That the Greek God of Douchebaggery is able to hit the curve like he does is testament to the his quick bat and excellent eye. Provided they aren't suddenly teammates (aw, look at my keyboard. Covered in vomit), perhaps Halladay can try to work the cutter away earlier in the count. He seems to use it as his out pitch against Youk, but staying away from his power source (inside) might work to his advantage. Thoughts?