After a rollercoaster of an episode that included both Ginny reveling in the glory of her first major league victory than being caught in the white hot spotlight of being asked to speak out on social issues of the day, this week's "Pitch" opens with Ginny caught in a different kind of crosshairs.
Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that America's pastime is the unofficial home of unwritten rules. One of the originals: If you hit my guy, I will hit yours right back. This term at the heart of this episode, titled "Beanball."
"Beanball" has two major moving parts: Ginny negotiating baseball's version of an eye for an eye rule, and coach Luongo mounting his last best shot to stay on as skipper of the team.
As the high-flying dramatics of "Pitch" are slowing down the finer points of the show's pacing and writing are rising to the surface. Show creators Dan Fogelman and Rick Singer may have caught our attention with the bold plot of charting the journey of the MLB's first female player, but they are peppering us with superb dialogue and subtle shifts in power dynamics every week.
"Beanball" had two particularly profound passages that steered the entire episode. The first: "Half the guys around me are misogynists who don't believe that a woman deserves a shot, and the other half are worse. Because they are good guys who just want to protect orphan Annie and I want them to see me as regular ball player," Ginny said.
The team is facing the St. Louis Cardinals, who were responsible for injuring trouble-making pitcher Tommy Miller. And Miller wants nothing more than to get healthy enough to reclaim his spot in the rotation so he can send Ginny packing. Even with this fact clear to everyone, Ginny is still determined to prove that she is one of the guys, so she hits the pitcher that beaned Miller.
This move, while completely in line with the baseball code, goes squarely against the advising of Ginny's two clubhouse confidants, Lawson and Blip. The hit batter is not the only time in this episode where we see Ginny wave off better guidance only to pay a penalty.
The flashback machine this week is focused on Ginny and a catcher from another minor league team named Trevor. Trevor (played by Shamier Anderson) likes Ginny and Ginny likes Trevor, but as we all know, Ginny has a rule of never dating another ballplayer.
On top of Trevor being a handsome, thoughtful guy, he also has an exist strategy from the game, which creates an opening for Ginny to sidestep her no ballplayer rule. After a few promising dates with Trevor and with his plan firmly in place, Ginny lets her guard down. Then, as life would have it, instead of Trevor leaving the minors for college he gets traded to the Cardinals farm team. With his baseball career off of life support, Trevor and Ginny's budding relationship had to be terminated.
Back in present day, as Ginny is dealing with her choice of hitting the Cards' pitcher, coach Luongo has his own hit-and-run scheme going. After reading all of the signals that his time would be coming to a close, Luongo masterfully gets himself tossed out of the game before it even starts. From there he skillfully corners team executive Maxine Armstrong (played by Wendie Malick) and proceeds to tell her how canning him would torpedo the season and possibly damage Ginny beyond repair.
Armstrong is aware that coach Luongo — like anybody fighting for their job — is willing to pull out all of the stops, but then she listens and takes account of what the coach is really offering.
Back on the field, Ginny is understanding in principle what her plunking another player means, but in actuality settling up the debt has her quite unsettled. As Ginny goes to bat there is a pitching change for a thrower who Elliot points out has hit the most batters. With coach Buck, who is managing his first game, showing his greenness, he leaves Ginny in to take the heat.
Only in this universe could the following happen: The new pitcher has no plans to hit Ginny. Not satisfied with not being treated like any other ballplayer, Ginny rushes the mound, only to be held up by none other than Trevor, her old flame who is now in the majors as well. A bench-clearing brawl ensues.
Ginny is tossed, along with Tommy Miller, and they share a moment of solidarity as they walk back to the clubhouse.
Up in the executive suite, Maxine Armstrong is breaking the bad news to owner Frank Reid that he has two choices: He has fire coach Luongo and soon join him on the unemployment line or they can both keep their jobs; begrudgingly Reid chooses the latter.
While these two major plotlines have been resolved, two smaller ones are touched upon but not really dealt with during this episode. First, it is confirmed that Lawson and Amelia did sleep with each other. Secondly, general manager Arguella is heading toward a divorce.
Per usual, in the closing frames, we get tons of new information. Ginny and Miller are good now. Ginny's ex Trevor dropped a bombshell that some potentially unflattering photos of her could be out in the open. Lastly, it is revealed that on top of being cunning enough to save his job, coach Luongo is fluent is Chinese as he breaks the news to one of his players that they will be sent back to the minors.
Then comes the second gem line of the night to his protégé-turned- supervisor, as he says, "People who underestimate me tend to be surprised." You don't say, coach.