What a relief for Williamson
If I’m going to mention Scott Williamson when he doesn’t pitch well, I figure it’s worth a little more than a mention when he comes back with a solid outing the very next time he takes a mound.
“Baseball’s like that,” Williamson said after his scoreless inning Wednesday. “You get a chance the next day.”
The last time we saw Williamson on the mound against the Yankees, his game looked very much like it was falling apart. He walked four batters, gave up two hits and was pulled before he could get through the inning, having retired just two of the eight batters he faced. He was one of the reasons behind the Tigers’ 10 walks before they could get through five innings.
That was Sunday. On Monday, Williamson was back on a mound, working with pitching coach Rick Knapp in a side session for 10-15 minutes. He was back out there against the Yankees on Wednesday, and not only did he toss a perfect inning this time around, he stayed in and pitched another one.
“Today, I just didn’t go out there thinking about mechanics,” Williamson said.
He was thinking out there on the mound Sunday, and it clearly didn’t help him settle down. He also said he might have been trying to throw hard in that game, and that didn’t help, either. Knapp had him work on taking just a little bit off his pitches and still gettng pretty good momentum.
In Wednesday’s case, each reliever seemed to build momentum for whoever came in after them. After Justin Verlander walked four batters and finished with well over 50 pitches in his two innings, which is about two fewer than expected, Tigers relievers scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings. Casey Fien retired the Yankees in order to continue his eye-opening Spring Training. Juan Rincon preceded Williamson with two innings of his own, giving him six scoreless innings this spring. Alfredo Figaro finished out the Yankees for the save.
Speaking of Fien, he credits Knapp’s work with helping him throw quality strikes rather than leaving too much over the plate. The knee-to-knee drills Knapp brought in to help pitchers aim for the catcher’s mitt has become part of Fien’s routine. He’s doing them three or four times a week.