Chris Rusin had nearly cleaned up another mess in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. All he had left to do in the frame was get by an old nemesis.
To start it, Rusin coaxed Kike Hernandez into a soft grounder up the middle. Rockies shortstop Alexei Amarista attempted to corral it, but his throw to first was way off target. That let Hernandez reach second on the error.
Rusin got the next two outs. Then Justin Turner came up to bat. To throw him off balance, Rusin went to his quick pitch. It’s a trick he’s used often this season — particularly against Turner, who begins his swing with a high leg kick. The idea is to fire a pitch past the batter before he expects it.
On Friday, it worked.
Rusin disrupted Turner’s rhythm and eventually got him looking. He exited the game after pitching two scoreless innings in Colorado’s eventual 5-4 win.
“We had been battling since the last time I was here,” Rusin said. “We had the quick-pitch wind-up deal. It was a fun battle. It’s a game we like to play with each other. He likes to leg kick. I like to keep hitters off balance. He obviously doesn’t like my quick pitch.”
Turner has taken issue with Rusin’s quick-pitch before. Earlier this summer, he lobbied an umpire to disallow it to no avail.
For Rusin, the quick pitch has been an effective weapon in a breakthrough season. This year the 30-year-old lefty has posted a 2.33 ERA across 77 1/3 innings. He’s quietly been on one of the best relievers in baseball this season.
“My goal when I come into the game is to get quick outs, and they did a good job battling,” he said. “I was fortunate to make my pitches when I made my pitches and get those six outs. It was an important inning for us.”
The quick pitch is, of course, only a small part of what’s made him effective. But when executed properly — like it was against Turner on Friday — it can pay big dividends.
“I know he feels comfortable to lift his leg,” Rusin said. “So I don’t want him to be comfortable against me licking his chops and everything.”
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