The Orioles were not getting much going Sunday against left-hander CC Sabathia of the Yankees. They didn’t get a run off of him. But they did get him out of the game one batter into the sixth inning.
One reason for that was a pitch count that reached 111. And one of the reasons that count reached that number is that Joey Rickard saw 29 Sabathia pitches over three at-bats on Sunday.
He was called out on strikes in the first inning, but not until the 12th pitch of the sequence. He singled in the third, also on the 12th pitch and then grounded out in the fifth on the fifth pitch. Rickard saw 26 percent of the pitches Sabathia threw in that game.
Did he go up there looking to do that?
“It was just the way it unfolded,” he said this afternoon. “His ball was moving a lot yesterday and I just could not square one up and it kind of worked out that way.
“But the longer the at-bat for me the more comfortable I get. The more different pitches I get to see and really get in a relaxed mode. You let the ball come to you more. Usually my plan is to try and see some pitches the first or second time up.”
And yesterday, a few other O’s batters worked some deep pitch counts and Sabathia was out of a game in which he had given up six walks, but just two hits.
“Yeah we try to work the count,” Rickard said. “Some guys, if you have a long at-bat, maybe the next guy is extra aggressive on that first pitch. Kind of work it throughout the lineup. Yesterday our job was to grind it out. He’s been throwing the ball well, but yesterday it worked out for us.”
With Hyun Soo Kim playing more now, Rickard has played less. He has just four hits his last 28 at-bats, dropping his average to .249. He has gotten into some games as a late-inning defensive replacement. He is always trying to find ways to stay fresh and ready when called on.
“I did this a lot in spring training. I just kind of follow the veteran guys around. They have routines they have done for a long time. I kind of just get in the weight room, stay stretched and keep my legs loose and I’m usually ready to go,” he said.
Rickard hit .280 in April. He has hit .216 since over 88 at-bats. Has Rickard noticed if AL pitchers changed how they have pitched him and tried to get him out over the course of this season?
“I haven’t,” he said. “They are still not trying to mess around too much with me I’ve noticed. Their stuff is sharp up here. They locate well and I have to match their intensity and aggressiveness and look to put good swings on the ball.”