The potential for an enthralling pitching duel had me reaching for a blank scorecard for the first time in the 2012 regular season. I took the opportunity to use a new scorecard I have created and the completed result can be downloaded below.
What doesn’t show up on the scanned version is the crease in the middle of the A4 page. The scorecard was in part designed specifically with my Tesco cheapo A5-sized clipboard in mind. Folding the A4 page in half makes for a compact A5 sheet that I then simply flip over every half-inning. All of the usual stat boxes for every player, and for the game itself, are printed on the other side of the piece of paper (not scanned here) so that I can maximize the space for the in-game details on one side, with the post-game stat work being done on the other.
The idea of the scorecard is to track in two separate spaces the plate appearance outcome (top half of the square) and how each batter’s time on the bases ended (bottom half). Additional info can be added, such as any RBIs and stolen bases if desired, but otherwise it is as simple as that.
It’s basically a way to record the key points without tracking every detail as to how a batter made their way around the bases.
It’s an approach to take into account my occasional laziness when it comes to keeping score of MLB games. Scoring at this level still helps me to appreciate the action more and gives me the details I like to look over once a game is complete, either for my own interest or to inform a piece of writing.
It does not provide a complete record of the game and I suspect that not tracking runners all the way could make it more likely for me to miss something at first glance, but with MLB games that doesn’t really bother me. If I miss one of two runners getting home immediately when it happens, the replays and score at the top of the screen will set me right. Additionally, while even with this scorecard you can normally still go over it and work out what happened and when, if I do want to check a minor point that I haven’t specifically recorded then it will only be a few clicks away on MLB.com Gameday.
So it’s not something you would want to use to keep score of a British baseball game, where you get one look at the play and everyone’s relying on you to know if one run scored or if it was two, but it works in the MLB context.
The game itself
One of the benefits of keeping score is that it allows you to pick up on trends during the game and afterwards. In this case, my attention was grabbed by the pattern at the bottom of the Tigers’ batting lineup, and at the very top.
As noted previously here, Austin Jackson has been tagged as an important part of the Tigers’ offence this season, playing a vital role in getting on base in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Jackson is often referred to as the lead-off hitter, I used it myself in that aforementioned story, but in reality that label doesn’t mean much as batting first in the lineup only guarantees you’ll lead off the first inning.
In the case of this game, Jackson didn’t lead off another inning after the first, whereas the eight-spot hitter Gerald Laird led off on three occasions (third, fifth and seventh innings).
The scorecard neatly shows that Laird and the number nine hitter Worth both made outs to start those innings against Matt Moore, bringing Austin Jackson up to the plate with two outs. He kept the inning alive on the first two occasions by working a walk and the third occasion his presence made Moore change his plan of attack.
I was watching the game on ESPN America and they were showing the Fox Sports Detroit presentation, with Mario Impemba and Rod Allen on commentary. The Tigers play more day-games during the working week than most teams (only the Cubs and Rays played more in 2011). Consequently, like many UK-based baseball fans, I listen to Impemba and Allen’s commentary fairly regularly and they are one of my favourite broadcasting duos, mixing knowledge and analysis with a welcome dash of humour and fun.
The pair were really on the spot in this contest.
When Jackson came up to the plate in the seventh inning, Allen was noting how the veteran Jose Molina had been guiding Moore through the game and that the pitcher hadn’t shook off a sign from his catcher throughout. As the words were coming out of Allen’s mouth, Moore was staring in at Molina and shaking off the sign so that he could get back to his fastball. As I was saying to myself ‘Moore just shook him off’, Jackson was driving the pitch into the seats for a home run and Allen picked up on it straight away.
There followed a scary moment at the top of the eighth inning when Miguel Cabrera shook his left hand after taking a swing and continued to grimace a couple of swings later. As Impemba and Allen were expressing their concern, Cabrera struck the ball into right-centre field, narrowly failing to clear the fence and ending up with a double instead. Allen declared that Cabrera’s ability to wait for his pitch and then to drive it with authority the other way was why he’s the best hitter in baseball. It’s hard to disagree with that.
Watching Cabrera hit is always a treat because he’s a master at his craft. Matt Moore lived up to the hype with a strong season debut and Rick Porcello’s performance bodes well for a very good season from him as well (the movement he gets on his 88-92 MPH two-seamer is ridiculous).
Add watching those talents with the pleasure of filling in a scorecard and it made for a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a Tuesday evening.