Jeremy Guthrie had pretty good command today, walking just one batter over eight innings and throwing 76 of his 116 pitches for strikes. However, he was rather erratic when White Sox leadoff man Juan Pierre was at the plate.
Guthrie knocked Pierre down twice and hit him another time, prompting one reporter to ask Guthrie after the game whether "Something is going on with you and Juan?"
Guthrie chuckled at the question and then said: "Nothing is going on between Juan and I. I am very happily married. There are no rumors. I've never faced Juan Pierre in my life, but he is a great baseball player. When you need to command the inside part of the plate, you have to pitch there. You don't try to hit guys, but you try to command that part of the plate.
Guthrie hit Pierre with one out in the fifth inning, and it is unfathomable to believe he'd intentionally put the major league leader in steals on base while trying to protect a 1-0 lead. When he knocked him down again in the seventh inning, the Orioles were leading 3-1.
Guthrie has hit 11 batters this season, second in the American League behind New York Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett.
"I'm not a very good pinpoint command pitcher, and I've got the numbers to prove that," Guthrie said. "You try to throw a pitch inside, if you miss by six inches sometimes, it hits them. If you miss by six inches the other way, it's right down the middle and it gets hit for a home run. So you can pick your position, but you try to execute pitches. And I knew that one of the places he doesn't like to hit it, from what I've seen, is inside, so you attack it."
Guthrie has already hit two more batters than he did all last season and four more than he did in 2008. It has been obvious since spring training that Guthrie is more committed to pitching inside, and that's a good thing. Guthrie allowed 35 home runs last year in 33 starts. This season, he has surrendered 18 home runs in 23 starts.
His stuff and command are obviously much better this year than they were last season, but it doesn't hurt that the hitters look much less comfortable in the box against him this season. The rest of the Orioles' pitchers should take note and pitch inside more.