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An In-Depth Look at Didi’s Grand Slam

On Saturday, the Yankees took Game Two of the ALDS against the Twins behind the bat of Didi Gregorius. With bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Didi sent one high and deep down the right field line and into the upper deck. The grand slam felt like it ended the game right then, even though there were 6 innings left to play.

Let’s take an in depth look into his at bat to see how it happened…

After allowing the first three batters of the inning to reach base, Twins starter Randy Dobnak was pulled in favor of right hander Tyler Duffey. Duffey faced the heart of the Yankee order in Stanton, Torres, and Sanchez, all right handed hitters making it a favorable match-up for the Twins pitcher. Gregorius, a left handed hitter, actually has a slightly lower batting average against righties, but his slugging percentage is nearly 100 points higher.

Against his first three hitters, Duffey showcased only a 93 mph fastball and slider. He threw four fastballs to Giancarlo Stanton that were all in the top half of the zone. Gleyber Torres similarly saw fastballs up and singled to left field. Gary Sanchez did get two good sliders before getting hit by a fastball. As Didi was watching these at bats unfold, he most likely was keying on which pitch he would want to hit from Duffey.

Given that Duffey was leaving his fastball up in the zone consistently, that is most likely what he was keying on as that would give him the best opportunity to hit the ball hard and potentially out of the ballpark. The very first pitch he saw was indeed a fastball up in the zone, but Gregorius missed it by fouling it off. After back to back sliders down in the zone, the count moved to 1-2. Duffey then threw another fastball up in the zone which Didi again fouled off. Now here, given how well Duffy was throwing the slider, he probably should have returned to it after the foul off as it was evident Gregorius was keying on the fastball. A slider would have again changed the eye level of Gregorius making it more difficult on him. Instead Duffey went back to the well for another fastball up, in almost the same location as the previous pitch. Didi’s eyes were already in that plane from the pitch before and he knew the fastball up was Duffey’s “go to” pitch that night. Then he did what great players do, he got the pitch he was looking for and turned on it.

Fastballs up are always ill advised unless you are throwing 97+ mph and Duffey was living dangerously all inning. It was Didi who finally made him pay and all but sealed the game for the Yankees. He will look to continue slugging as the team heads to the Twin Cities tonight.


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