For Moyer, start with bad pitches

INSIDE PITCH

June 22, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Jamie Moyer has heard all the theories about the pitching disease known as the first-inning blahs. He's tried most of the remedies, but at the moment he doesn't have a cause or a clue, let alone a cure.

In his past four starts, the Orioles' left-hander has given up a total of 10 runs in the first inning -- four Monday night against the Brewers and two in each of his three previous outings. The perception is that something is wrong with his preparation.

Chances are it's something even simpler than that.

ka,5 "Bad pitches," said Moyer. "If you ask me what happened last night, that's what it was -- bad pitches. A high changeup [to Greg Vaughn] and a curveball that might've been OK to a right-handed hitter, but was down and in to a left-hander [Dave Nilsson]."

Both pitches were hit for home runs -- worth two runs each. The first came on Moyer's fifth pitch of the game, and the first to Vaughn. "It wasn't like there had been any pattern, or that he had anything to time it against. It was just a changeup over the middle of the plate.

"I'm not the type who can get away with mistakes, because I'm not a power pitcher," Moyer said. "If I make a bad pitch, it has to be out of the strike zone."

In his first 10 starts, Moyer was scored on in the first inning only twice -- and he had gone six in a row without one before his current stretch. The fact that Moyer has pitched into the seventh inning in 10 of his 14 starts is evidence of his recuperative ability, but doesn't negate his early difficulties.

Throughout his career, as both a pitcher and coach, Dick Bosman has tried, or seen, most of the techniques used to combat the first-inning blahs. "Warm up longer, warm up shorter," he said. "I've seen it done both ways.

"Another thing you can do is put a hitter at the plate for the last 15 to 20 pitches and work on throwing solid strikes with all of your pitches. The important thing is to come out of the bullpen with all of your pitches working -- especially your No. 1 pitch, the one you're going to rely on to get people out."

One popular warm-up method is for the starter to sit down for five minutes as though he's completed his pre-game work, then get up and complete the routine. Bosman favors a slightly different approach.

"Sometimes you have them pitch an imaginary inning," he said, "and have them throw to each hitter like it was the last out of the ninth inning and they had a shutout going."

Moyer had tried several warm-up variations prior to his most recent start, and it isn't likely they'll stop. "There's more to come," said Bosman. "Stay tuned."

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