Fidgety Bob Welch likes to work quickly.
The Boston Red Sox knew that. So they devised a little plan to maybe shake the 27-game-winner's rhythm, and play with his mind in Game Two of the American League Championship Series last night at Fenway Park.So the Boston hitters did a little two-step of sorts.
The first step called for asking plate umpire John Hirschbeck for time, and then the Sox hitter would step out of the batter's box, just before, or as, Welch was beginning his pitching motion.
Several of the Sox performed the two-step, most notably veteran Dwight Evans, who stepped out a few times during one at-bat, prompting Hirschbeck to give him a little lecture at one point.
The maneuver irritated Oakland manager Tony LaRussa just as much, if not more, than Welch.
And LaRussa's main concern seemed to be that once a pitcher starts his motion, and then sees that time has been called, there is the tendency to bring the motion to a screeching halt, causing the possibility of injury.
So he spoke to Hirschbeck in the second inning about what he considered to be a Red Sox ploy.
"A batter gets in and gets ready, but when gamesmanship becomes ----, that's going too far," said LaRussa. "He said he wouldn't let it be abused."
"I had my hand up a lot (calling time), and much longer than ever before," said Hirschbeck.
Welch couldn't help but notice. A few times, it seemed as if he would fall off the mound as he tried to stop his pitching delivery.
But the right-hander permitted only six hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings, and the Athletics are up, two games to none.
So he didn't seem too concerned about the Boston two-step after the game.
"It's a situation I have no control over," he said. "You can't pitch until a guy is ready. It's something you have to deal with."