With the Rays down by two in the top of the ninth, catcher Mike Zunino came to the plate with a runner on first. Zunino came into Tuesday night’s contest with a wRC+ of -1 while also striking out in 38% of his plate appearances.
With a 1-1 count and a runner on first, the pitcher is going to try to induce a groundball for an easy double play. That means that the hitter is going to be expecting a breaking ball of changeup at the bottom of the zone. As a result, the absolute last thing a pitcher can afford to do is leave said off-speed pitch in the middle of the plate.
Reliever Kirby Snead left a hanging change up in the middle of the plate right at knee height; the exact location he could not afford to leave it.
Zunino absolutely punished that mistake.
That home run had an exit velocity of 103.8 and went 402 feet. Which is exactly what an MLB power hitter should do to a pitch in the middle third of the plate at knee height.
Zunino’s home run was forced extra innings as it erased a two-run lead Oakland was trying to hold onto. The A’s had scored five runs in the first and were kept off the score board until the bottom of the tenth when they were down by five — Oakland only scored two runs in the final frame for a 7-10 loss.
The 31 year old catcher had pinch hit for Kevin Kiermaier and rotated into the DH spot. He recorded a single in his first PA and that home run in his second. As a result of his 2-2 night, Zunino’s wRC+ skyrocketed up to 37 for the season.
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