Over at the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog there’s a very interesting post showing “heat maps” for Mariano Rivera’s pitches, which are unique in that they’re rarely thrown over the middle of the plate. That may sound obvious, but as you’ll see if you click the link Rivera is actually an oddity compared to MLB pitchers as a whole and some of the league’s elite closers.
Replacement Level Yankees Weblog: Mariano Rivera’s pitch frequency
Rivera essentially throws one pitch and he commands it so well that he’s perhaps the only pitcher who can truly live on the edges of the strike zone while also walking fewer than two batters per nine innings. Just when you think we’ve run out of ways to show how amazing Rivera is, stuff like the heat maps comes along to shine a new light on his unique greatness.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.