What an epic confrontation between Chris Resop and Ryan Howard in the fifth inning today. With the bases loaded and one out, Howard battled through 13 pitches — fouling off five after the count went full — and launched a sacrifice fly that Andrew McCutchen caught a couple of steps in front of the North Side Notch.
It wasn’t the first time Resop had to work overtime to get an out. On April 26, Resop had an 11-pitch battle with Mike Fontenot of the Giants. Fontenot fouled off four balls with a 3-2 count, then struck out swinging at a 94-mph fastball.
A while ago, I asked Resop if he — or any pitcher, for that mater — gets edgy during one of those long at-bats. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “And it doesn’t even have to be a strikeout (that you want). It’s, ‘Just put the ball in play. Do something.’ ”
For a reliever, a single long at-bat usually means a short outing. “I don’t like throwing more than 15 pitches in any inning,” Resop said. “You’re trying to keep your pitch count down. If you’re hoping to get through two innings that day, having a 12- or 14-pitch at-bat can kill your chances of staying in the game. If you throw eight or nine pitches to two other guys, say you give up a base hit, now you’re at 30 pitches.”
Against Howard, Resop threw one curve (which Howard took for ball two) and 12 four-seam fastballs. It’s Resop’s policy, as it is with most relievers, to stay with his best pitch.
“It’s different with starters. They’ve got more pitches to choose from,” Resop said. “Coming in later in the game, if you’re going right at guys you’re not going to pick at (the corners). If there are guys on base, you definitely didn’t want to put (the hitter) on. If you’ve got an open base and he’s fouling stuff off, you might want to just throw a breaking ball up there and if it’s a ball, OK, get the next guy.”