Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright befuddles LA Dodgers with his knuckleball

first_imgLOS ANGELES >> The comedian Steven Wright is credited with saying “when I die, I’m leaving my body to science fiction.”Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright might want to do the same with his knuckleball.These Dodgers have seen a knuckleball before, when R.A. Dickey ran afoul of Clayton Kershaw back in May. But that game was played indoors in Toronto. Dickey’s knuckler did not meet the same gusts of wind and twists of fate that Wright enjoyed Friday, when his knuckleball danced its way to victory, and the Dodgers were shut out 9-0.Three different Boston players hit home runs: Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw, and Sandy Leon. The Dodgers made two errors behind starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (9-5) and four relievers. A portion of the announced crowd of 52,728 at Dodger Stadium could be heard cheering the Red Sox, which is good, because the other portion didn’t have much to celebrate. Manager Dave Roberts’ lineup was a bit of a gamble, then. He started five lefties — Chase Utley, Corey Seager, Josh Reddick, Adrian Gonzalez and Joc Pederson — along with Grandal, a switch hitter, and Kazmir, who also bats left-handed.But the Dodgers’ right-handed hitters were no more successful than their lefties. Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick had only one hit and three strikeouts between them. “Regardless of who we throw out there, every guy out there — right-handers and left-handers — were saying the ball was moving and changing speeds, eye levels, everything (Wright) could to be effective,” Roberts said.Even when the Dodgers could catch a break, they did not. Pederson was hit on his right knee in the eighth inning, the only batter Wright hit in the game. But home plate umpire Jim Wolf ruled that Pederson didn’t attempt to get out of the way of the pitch, and ordered him to remain in the batter’s box and finish the at-bat.The Dodgers arrived from Denver late Thursday. Their usual pregame batting practice on the field was optional. Roberts said that third base coach Chris Woodward, who reputedly threw a knuckleball in a mop-up relief appearance as a player, offered to throw knuckleballs indoors to any hitter who wanted them.Apparently Woodward did not, or could not, throw enough. Grandal said he’d never faced a knuckleballer before Friday. He collected one of the Dodgers’ three hits, a single in the eighth inning, but wasn’t aware that Woodward was floating practice knucklers prior to the game.“I don’t like to think about guys like (Wright) too much,” Grandal said. “He’s going to give you one pitch and one pitch only, and that’s the pitch you’ve got to hit. It’s like (Chicago Cubs pitcher) Aroldis Chapman. You know he’s going to throw 100 so you’ve got to be ready for it.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img For that, blame Wright.The Moreno Valley native has emerged from virtual anonymity to become a major league ace at age 31. He made his first All-Star Game in July and kept his earned-run average under 3.00 until only a couple weeks ago. Wright’s three-hit complete game Friday was his first career shutout. He walked one batter and struck out nine.“The knuckleball is not a pitch you get to see every day,” Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal said. “When you make it move and you throw strikes and you make guys swing the bat, you’re going to get a lot of soft contact, a lot of swings and misses. It seemed like right at the point of contact the ball just dropped.”Wright, unlike most right-handed pitchers, has been tougher on left-handed batters this season. (They were hitting .208 against him prior to Friday, with a .295 slugging percentage. Righties were hitting .251 against him with a .344 slugging percentage.) last_img

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