The Cardinals orchestrated not one but two ninth-inning comebacks this weekend against Kenley Jansen and the Red Sox. Boston’s closer allowed three runs without recording an out on Friday night then allowed three more runs (two earned) on Saturday.
One of the turning points in Saturday’s meltdown was Jansen walking Willson Contreras on three pitches – two balls, one strike, and two clock violations. The veteran closer was one of the slowest pitchers in the league last season and the pitch clock isn’t treating him too kindly.
Contreras joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” and explained his approach with the pitch clock, saying that he’s just playing within the new rules.
“I do that regularly, on a daily basis. I do that a lot,” Contreras said. “A lot of pitchers don’t like it but it’s not my fault, it’s just the rules. I’m not trying to disrespect anybody, I’m just taking advantage of what I’ve been given.”
Contreras readied himself with a foot outside the batter's box, goading Jansen into coming set before the hitter was in the box. That turned a 0-1 count into a 1-1 count, and after two more balls were thrown, Contreras walked on the second violation.
The Cardinals batter saw Jansen struggle with the pitch clock the night before and used that to his advantage.
“I knew that he wanted to pitch to find his rhythm because he lost his rhythm the night before,” Contreras continued. “He was trying to find his rhythm (on Saturday). It’s playing smart baseball, let him come down and if he walks me, he walks me.”
Both pitchers and batters are having to deal with these new rules and they’re trying to figure out what they may be able to take advantage of. Whether it’s quick pitching or a batter waiting out the clock, there’s going to be some gamesmanship as these new rules continue to develop.
“With the pitch clock, if you’re a hitter and you want to slow the game down you have to take advantage of it and also know when to use your timeout because you only have one.”