Anatomy of an At Bat: Yankees at Rangers ALCS Game 2

If you picked David Murphy to be the star of yesterday's game, then I'm willing to bet you won a tidy sum in your office pool.

But David Murphy is not a star; he's a quality role player- a 28 year old (turning 29 tomorrow, happy birthday, sir) with a little patience and a little pop, who's a too little short on the defensive tools to be a regular.

Unfortunately for Phil Hughes, when Murphy steps to the plate against a RHP, all that's there is the patience and pop.  Murphy boasts a career .288/.354/.387 line against RHP.  Since he hit at just about that level this year, in a year in which offense around the league is significantly down, it means that Murphy is clearly an above average hitter against a righty.  So you have to be careful, you have to have a plan, and you have to make adjustments.

Let's review Phil Hughes' approach.

Numlocation

via www.brooksbaseball.net

2nd inning: Those of  you who read the tragicomedy that was last night's recap know that I was dissatisfied with Phil Hughes' pitch selection.  He was fighting for his location here: fastball away, too far away to be effective, fastball away, closer but still in the other batter's box, cutter in that looks like it's down the center of the plate to Murphy.

Lefties usually hit cutters down the center of the plate over the wall.  That's what Murphy did.

Numlocation

via www.brooksbaseball.net

3rd inning: The pitch selection: curveball up and away, changeup low and away, fastball low and away, fastball in, curveball down the center of the plate and not in the dirt.

You know what?  Sometimes you can't seem to execute the plan. 

I like the sequence here.  That curveball was borderline, and the comments in the game thread ran along the lines of "Why can Lewis get that high curve called a strike while the Yankees can't?"  The changeup caught Murphy by surprise, and low fastball to nearly the same spot could have been a ground out if Murphy had put a better swing on it.  Hughes showed him the fastball inside, to the same location as the homer last AB, and Murphy wasn't ready for it, but he fouled it off to stay alive.  Hughes then came back with a curveball.  I can't find video of this AB on MLB.com, so I don't know how Hughes missed: was this supposed to nick the left or right corner, or be in the dirt?  Whichever it was supposed to be, Hughes missed it.  A good pitch in a bad location is a run scoring double.

Hughes wouldn't face Murphy a third time, as Joe Girardi went to Joba Chamberlain to start the 5th inning.

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