Monday, May 9, 2011

Juan Rivera Outspoken on Justin Verlander's No-Hitter


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images
A few weeks ago, like most people I had completely written off Juan Rivera as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays roster.

Back on April 17th he was hitting a paltry .103 and was at the centre of a maelstrom of scrutiny after he just flat out did not appear to be interested in playing for the Blue Jays.

It all came to a head after he refused to slide into a double play and just tiptoed into second base, making no effort to even break up the double play whatsoever. It was an inexcusable baserunning gaffe to say the least.

My how things can change in just a mere few weeks, because Juan Rivera might just be my new favourite Blue Jay.

Aside from how he's turned his season around on the field, Juan Rivera was also at the centre of some controversy surrounding Justin Verlander's no-hitter. Shi Davidi reported that Rivera said to Verlander's face that he got "lucky".

I believe think there's a little bit of truth to that statement. Whenever a pitcher tosses a no-hitter and only strikes out three batters like Verlander did or just two like Francisco Liriano, it seems more about the defense than it does the pitcher.

Pitching to contact is an excellent strategy and is a great way to keep the pitch count down. It just so happened that all those pop-ups and grounders were hit to the right people at the right time, so there was some luck involved there.

Although it may have been a controversial thing to say, at least Juan Rivera had the decency to say that to Justin Verlander's face rather than in the clubhouse during the post-game media scrum.

One can't say whether Rivera was just trying to get into Verlander's head or if he truly believed Verlander got lucky, but that may have been a situation where it's better to just keep those thoughts as internal dialogue.

Luck plays such a huge part in the game of baseball: there are lucky bounces, lucky calls, and lucky guesses. Just take a look at the statistic batting average on balls in play (BABIP).

Justin Verlander just so happened to be on the right side of the luck scale on Saturday, but it was his skill that helped tip the scale in his favour.

6 comments:

  1. I agree that luck has to play a part in any no-hitter, however I think Rivera should have let Verlander enjoy the moment. What he said kind of makes him sound like a sore loser.

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  2. I think Juan was referring to the fact that Verlander was lucky that Juan was hitting 3rd. Any lineup with Rivera hitting 3rd is a high possibility that a no-hitter will occur.

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  3. Peter, yeah I'm not sure what inclined Rivera to say that in the first place. He must've been very frustrated at the loss. Either that, or he was trying to get into Verlander's head.

    Wes, true - the Blue Jays didn't have their best lineup on Saturday by any means. But a no-hitter is a no-hitter, it doesn't matter of Bautista is in the lineup or not.

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  4. King_Cats (Noisyflowers)May 9, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Verlander was very luck with balls on play but the whole reason he was lucky was that he was facing a lineup that couldn't do anything with the balls Verlander gave them to hit. Let's not forget that unlike pitchers, hitters do exercise influence over their own BABIP. Facing a Punch and Judy lineup, Verlander did the smart thing and pitched to contact. The onus was on Rivera and company to make Verlander regret the strategy.

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  5. Rivera isn't smart enough to try to "get in Verlander's head"; he'd be lost in there. Like a troglodyte inside a particle accelerator. The fact is, it's Rivera who's lucky: lucky to be getting paid for waving a baseball bat around.

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  6. King_Cats, pitching to contact was a terrific strategy by Verlander. And I imagine once you start trying to strike everyone out, it not only tires your arm out more but probably induces a lot more balls than strikes.

    Knagol, I'd say Rivera has been earning his keep these past few weeks with the Blue Jays. No one's expecting him to clobber 30 home runs or anything, but as of late he's been performing fairly well.

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