Saved by the changeup

Once again, Walt Weiss was faced with a non-choice last night heading into the 9th inning. John Axford was rode hard and put away wet the previous two days. LaTroy Hawkins had a jacket on the entire night in the dugout and didn’t move to the bullpen, a sure sign he was also “down” for some reason. Rafael Betancourt was still getting his sea legs back, and appeared earlier in the 7th. Oberg did his thing, followed by Boone Logan actually facing a left-hander and getting him out.

That mix left Tommy Kahnle for the 9th, with an 8-3 lead.

Kahnle looked like he had been eating Doritos and chugging Red Bull all night. He had gas, peaking at 98.6, but it was everywhere except the strike zone. Walked Crawford. Got Susac to fly to center. Walked Maxwell. Walked Ishikawa with a wild pitch mixed in. Got a lecture from Steve Foster. Started throwing strikes but gave up singles to Blanco and Panik. K’d Duffy after running count full.

Then, we’re voting for Buster Posey. This had bad written all over it – score now 8-6, two guys on. Fastball missed, changeup didn’t miss but got called a ball at bottom of zone, fastball for strike, fastball missed. Tulo tries to sneak in for the daylight play, and Kahnle almost mails it out to Blackmon.

Nick Hundley goes to work. So far, Kahnle has thrown 26 fastballs and only 11 strikes, but 9 changeups and 5 strikes (6 if you count the one that wasn’t called). Hundley puts down 3 fingers – read between the lines. Posey swings and the count is full. Hundley puts down 3 fingers again, and Posey swings and misses again. Game over, shake hands, and Brandon Barnes makes a pitch for Nolan Arenado in the All-Star Game during the post-game interview.

Props to Goodman and Huson too, they were all over it during the Posey AB. Huson blurted “WHERE’S THAT?” on the 1-0 changeup, and after Posey missed the 2nd strike, Goodman said “won’t be surprised if he doubles down here.”

Keep in mind, the changeup is the new Rockies go-to pitch being taught across the system. If you wanna be here, you better be able to throw one.

But it was something else Arenado said that got my attention:

Finally. Very un-Helton like, seldom was heard a discouraging word. Sometimes Tulo thinks it, shows the body language, but stops short of saying it. But coming from Arenado, especially after another 2-HR power display and hints he is being noticed on a national level for more than his defense, this means something.

And he’s right. The Rox pen has taken fireballer way too literally. I give Hundley huge points for seeing what was going on and going away from the fastball when it mattered. Kahnle’s fastball is rarely in the zone, and when it is it has no movement and gets hit.

Kahnle got a chestbump from Hawkins and a hearty saved-my-butt handshake from Walt, and I like that those guys are positive. Again, Walt did not really have a choice there – Friedrich is not a closer.

For Arenado to have the confidence to speak his mind about crappy pitching for God, Jenny Cavnar, and all of us to hear is huge. He has arrived as a leader.

Arenado will be at the All-Star Game – both as the Rockies obligatory representative (sorry, DJ, deserving but we’ll have to rely on a manager pick to get a second body there), and in the HR Derby if he wants. With Stanton going down last night, the NL needs some firepower now.

Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to Kahnle in the 9th today. If CarGo continues hot (5-for-5 last night) and Arenado does his usual day game thing, it could be good. Plus, it’s TIMMMMEH.

San Francisco Giants
CF Angel Pagan (S)
2B Joe Panik (L)
3B Matt Duffy (R)
1B Buster Posey (R)
C Andrew Susac (R)
SS Brandon Crawford (L)
RF Justin Maxwell (R)
LF Gregor Blanco (L)
P Tim Lincecum (R)

Rockies
CF Charlie Blackmon (L)
2B DJ LeMahieu (R)
SS Troy Tulowitzki (R)
RF Carlos Gonzalez (L)
3B Nolan Arenado (R)
1B Wilin Rosario (R)
C Mike McKenry (R)
LF Brandon Barnes (R)
P Chris Rusin (L)

[sac_happens]

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