In the bottom of the fifth inning of today’s game, the Brewers’ Matt Albers replaced starter Junior Guerra after the Giants had scored 5 runs off of him. Due up were the Giants’ 2-3-4 hitters, Posey, Crawford, and Longoria. It was Albers’ first relief appearance since June 11th following a lengthy DL stint thanks to a shoulder strain. His job was to hold the 5-2 deficit and give his team a chance to come back
His first batter, Buster Posey, singled to center field. No harm there. At the start of the day, Buster Posey had 51 hits in 40 games against the Brewers for his career (make it 55 after today’s game). Brandon Crawford followed the lead off single with a flyout to left field. So far, so good. A double play could end the inning. But then, Evan Longoria battled him for 10 pitches and worked out a walk to bring up Pablo Sandoval.
After a mound visit to go over strategy, Albers aimed and fired a first pitch change up that tailed away from Sandoval. Sandoval, assuming Albers would not want another long at bat, thought he was getting a first-pitch fastball and swung hard through it. Not often Sandoval goes after the first pitch these days. Albers came back with the same pitch 0-1 and Pablo swung through that one as well. Within 30 seconds, Albers was ahead in the count 0-2.
The next pitch Albers threw was a changeup for a ball. Having effectively slowed down the swing-happy Sandoval, Albers adjusted and threw a fastball. Sandoval fouled it off. Albers thought he had effectively sped up Sandoval’s bat, so he threw another changeup. Fouled off. Then he thought he could sneak another fastball by him. Except this is Pablo Sandoval, immune to sequencing. Instead of flummoxing the hitter, the hitter flummoxed Matt Albers.
What happened next will make you mad.
First, this dude in the stands caught the foul ball...
But instead of giving it to either of those kids you see behind him, he gave it to his friend.
That’s not the most infuriating part, though. After that, Albers stood on the mound and just... stood there.
Watching Manny Piña signal every sign in the book...
Before finally stepping off.
When he finally got back on the mound, he took a deep breath to gather himself. Somehow, standing there motionless on the mound for 46 seconds had no effectively calmed him down.
Then the broadcast cut to this fan who was idly shaking his Boston Red Sox era Pablo Sandoval jersey. A bizarre decision all the way around — from the broadcast director to the fan to Pablo thinking Boston would be a good fit regardless of the money — but after standing idly by doing absolutely nothing for close to a minute, it could be forgiven.
Matt Albers really didn’t want to throw his next pitch. He shook off a few more times and stepped off again.
I hate this at bat.
Pablo Sandoval stepped out of the box, probably wondering what the hell was going on.
Finally, 70 seconds later, Matt Albers threw a pitch.
It was a slider for a ball. One minute, ten seconds between two pitches.
It took him 30 seconds to get ahead of the hitter and 30 seconds for him to lose all confidence in his command and his sequencing. Pablo Sandoval got in his head because Pablo Sandoval adjusted to his fastball and changeup and based on the fact that he only thew it once, he never had command of his slider. Once Pablo failed to chase that, it became a guessing game, and Albers opted to ride the horse that brung him here and try to get Sandoval out with the changeup again.
It did not work.
That was Pablo Sandoval’s first triple since 2015.
The world is chaos, but every pitcher believes himself to be God. He’s the only one who knows what pitch is coming. He has all the answers. But sometimes, nature doesn’t bend to your whims and you become the chaos.
P.S. Mr. Commissioner, you can solve your pace of play issues. I gave you all the clues.