Tek, in the 2nd inning of Monday night's 6-3 Sox victory over Baltimore, pulled a 94 mph fastball for a homer to right field, just his third in 64 games. And then in the 7th, he pulled a grounder down the first base line on a 92 mph fastball.
How does such a slow bat get around so early on fastballs? What's the ace up his sleeve? Simple. A 2-0 count in both cases. A hitter's count. A fastball count. A count where Varitek can cheat.
I've noticed this for a few weeks now; Varitek is cheating in fastball counts, looking fastball, and starting his swing early, so he can get around on the predictable pitch. This is a last ditch effort to survive, using brains over that other quality, the one that fades earlier than brains.
Of course, cheating risks getting pinched; it's the price for living dangerously. And if Tek gets an offspeed or breaking pitch in a fastball count, he's apt to get caught redhanded. In the 8th, against stupidly named Rocky Cherry, Tek was ahead in the count 2-1. A count where one is to be selective, waiting for that perfect pitch, and only then making a move. But Tek tipped his hand; gearing up for a fastball, Tek starting his swing early, and had no choice but to chase a slider down and out of the zone. And then guessing fastball again on 2-2, he chased another slider down and out of the zone, for the whiff. In the 9th, Tek had another 2-1 count, and this time was well ahead of a changeup, fouling it off, only to then take a belt high fastball for a called third strike.
Tek was caught cheating on the basepaths last week, too. On Thursday, he tried to get an early start on a stolen base, and left before the pitcher delivered. The pitcher stepped off the rubber, and caught Tek in a rundown, the result of which was not in doubt.
Of course, I can't help concluding that all this cheating business relates to mortality; wishing to stave off infirmity, Tek is looking to cheat death any way he can, to get whatever edge he can muster before old age catches him in a run down. But of course death catches everyone in a pickle of inevitability; it's just a question of staying in it long enough for the other runners to advance.
Anywho, in cheerier news, Bay slammed two dongs, and Lester continued to be the my-subjective-ace, defined as the guy who prompts me to say to myself 'phew, he's pitching tonight.'
Yeah, I say 'phew'. Even to myself. And in private moments, no less.