In the bottom of the fifth inning Monday night, Dustin Pedroia (BOS) battled Jered Weaver (LAA) for 13 pitches, the batter eventually delivering a two-RBI single that resulted in the Red Sox taking the lead. The following chart shows the pitches of the at bat overlayed on Dustin's hot zones since the start of the 2008 season:
From the batter's point of view, this sequence shows Dustin's superb strike zone judgement. He only swung at two pitches out of the strike zone (6 and 12), and they were both probably too close to take with two strikes and Weaver on the mound. Dustin did not swing and miss in the sequence, nor did he take a strike. Each swing resulted in a foul ball or ball in play. In Moneyball terms, Pedroia's process was very good.
From the pitcher's point of view, Weaver mixed his pitches well in every dimension. He used four different pitches during the sequence, four fastballs, three changeups, three sliders, and three cutters. Three times he threw the same pitch on consecutive throws, but on almost every toss he changed location, up, down in and out. Until the last three pitches, there was always something different about the previous pitch.
The last three pitches, however, is what did in Weaver. Pitches 11 and 12 were classified as cutters and pitch 13 as a fastball, but the three had all about the same speed, spin and movement. Pedroia basically saw the same pitch three times in a row for the first time during the at bat. Note, too, that pitch 13 was higher on the corner than the other two, and that's right on the edge of a hot zone for Dustin. Pedroia had the pitch timed, Weaver put it in a good location, and the single on pitch 13 turned the game around. It was a classic battle between a fine pitcher and a fine hitter.