It has been written that April showers bring May flowers! Could we add to that a wet baseball, uncomfortable uniforms and, despite being the namesake of waterfowl, disappointment to the Ducks’ hardball team?
Downpours be damned, they had the lead 1-0 going into the 8th inning and their Gold was setting the standard, 7 innings completed, allowing 0 runs, giving free passes to but 2 hitters, while striking out 5 and permitting a stingy 4 scattered hits to the opposition. The Ducks’ Jeff Gold was polished and shining for his Saturday night start. There is but one definition for his performance and that is — “success!”
We weren’t surprised that Gold, a red-shirt senior right handed pitcher for the Ducks’ and their Saturday starter, has been brilliant throughout the 2014 baseball season, with a record of 9-0 prior to Saturdays’ start, an earned run average of 2.30 in 74 innings of work, 50 strikeouts against 7 walks and a batting-average-against of a lowly .209! That is quality pitching!
How does he do it? Gold is not known for the heat on his fastball, however, no one hits him hard. What does he have in his tool box that produces such consistent success?
His heater gets in the high 80-MPH range, he has excellent control, note at his next outing that he starts nearly every opposing hitter with a first pitch strike, his secondary and out of zone pitches are controlled and perfectly located to say nothing of the effectiveness of his change up or off-speed pitches.
As to his delivery, arm position and consistent control, we don’t like negative stats but we are guessing that he has not thrown more than 2 wild pitches all season.
In our judgement, his strength is in his out-pitch, the breaking ball. He throws an overhand curve that breaks down and in on left hand hitters and to all it appears to have fallen off the edge of a table. You older baseball guys will remember the days when a similar pitch was called a “drop!”
Let’s look at how he throws it. Any curve ball spins with a downward rotation and the direction of the spin is toward the catcher.
In gripping the ball for delivery of a curve ball, the pitcher places the middle finger of his throwing hand on the outside seam of the ball, (the seam away from the pitchers’ body). The index finger is then placed on the ball adjacent to the middle finger. The thumb of the throwing hand is placed on the opposite seam on the underside of the baseball.
Some pitchers position their fingers in the narrow seam area of the ball, while pitchers with larger hands prefer the wide or round seam area of the ball.
Upon delivery of the pitch the thumb is forcedly flipped upward as the the top fingers are directed down, thus the desired downward rotation of the baseball is generated at release, also the throwing arm movement is altered slightly.
In the normal pitching delivery, such as the fastball, the throwing arm follows a circular arcing motion with the throwing elbow targeted at the knee opposite of the throwing arm.
However, the curve ball delivery is slightly shorter with the delivering elbow targeted at the hip opposite of the throwing arm, thus reducing the arc of the arm. This increases the snap of the throwing forearm and increases the rate of rotation on the ball as it progresses toward home plate.
We won’t get into the physics factors that are produced in this process to make the ball change it’s direction of flight as it approaches the plate, that’s for Physics Class 225 at the university to discuss.
We can, however, bear witness to the fact that Jeff Gold has mastered the technique. His maturity as a grad-school student has allowed him to develop the proper arm position for the delivery, which then produces the consistent control he exhibits.
Not coincidentally, the Ducks have enjoyed the benefits associated with his technique and talent.
Until we see you at the Ballpark, Gar says, “Take two and hit deep to Right!”
Photo above from video!
Gar is a businessman, writer, father of 4 very successful children and an enthusiastic life long Duck follower. He remembers being a fair country boy athlete and spent a summer playing baseball in the Dodger organization. Playing is using the term loosely as he remembers primarily being asked to carry the equipment to the bus. He has spent 20 years assisting FEMA in providing Housing for disaster victims.
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