Sam LeCure turned in the best start of his young career last night, allowing just one run on one hit over six innings. He walked two, struck out eight and left the game with the Reds leading 2-1. However, LeCure would not pick up the win because Nick Masset allowed the Padres to tie it in the eighth.
Cincinnati would come back to win the game thanks to a six-run rally in the 11th, all coming with two outs.
The point that I want to focus on here is the importance of Ryan Hanigan and the obviously strong connection LeCure has with his catcher.
If a pitcher is going to miss the strike zone, he needs to miss down. He needs to trust that the catcher will keep the ball from going to the backstop. This means the catcher has to be prepared to block balls in the dirt, something that Hanigan did repeatedly last night.
Blocking pitches is something that can be seen at the stadium or on television. Even though it is a very under-appreciated part of the game for many fans, it is still a visual occurrence. There is still so much more that goes into a successful pitching performance. Anyone that has been behind the dish knows that there is a lot more to calling a game.
"Hani does such a good job of making me feel like the game is slowing down. He feels like I need to take my time sometimes, so he'll take a little longer giving the sign," LeCure said. "I feel really comfortable with him back there."
The pitcher's mound can be a very lonely place. It is easy to get rattled, especially for a young pitcher like LeCure. Something so easy like taking a few extra seconds to hang the sign allows the pitcher to take a few extra breaths and calm down. Each pitch needs to have a purpose and the pitcher needs to remember that.
Last night, LeCure and Hanigan seemed to remember it just fine.
Are you in Reds Country?