Last Saturday, Moyer made his debut with the Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
He dominated. In five innings, Moyer allowed only a single while notching his first minor league win in almost twenty years. One measly hit, no walks, and five strikeouts.
Last night, Jamie Moyer pitched well in his second of three promised starts for Norfolk. Moyer took the loss as he was topped by Toledo’s Jacob Turner in a 3-2 loss. He allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits. Moyer threw 103 pitches, 66 strikes, and went to a three-ball count just four time. He struck out seven, despite pitching between 81 and 73, using an arsenal he himself humorously refers to as “slop.” The Tides’ official Twitter feed posted that Moyer had yet to throw a pitch over 82 mph at the time of his seventh strikeout in the fifth inning.
Don’t be surprised to see Moyer up with the big club soon. Baltimore signed Moyer hoping he could add something to a shaky pitching staff. Couple that with the fact the Orioles reinserted Tommy Hunter into the starting rotation Saturday, and the fact they have moved the struggling Jake Arrieta to the bullpen, it becomes quite possible the next time the O’s need a fifth starter Moyer gets the call.
But that’s not the fun part. How can it not be when we are talking about a 49-year old guy pitching in the minor leagues?
Just look back at all the names on this Norfolk team. We’ve mentioned before the Tides boast former All-Stars Miguel Tejada, and Nate McLouth, not to mention Brian Roberts who just returned to the big club; plus respectable former major-leaguers Joel Pineiro, J.C. Romero, and Bill Hall. There’s even not-so-respectable ex-big leaguers like Oscar Villarreal, Pat Neshek, and Lew Ford. Even the managerail staff includes skipper Ron Johnson, hitting coach Denny Walling, and pitching coach Mike Griffin.
But the gem in all of this: before last night’s game, Moyer took it upon himself to hassle the coach who was pitching batting practice for the opposition.
“Throw strikes,” Moyer shouted toward former teammate Leon “Bull” Durham (from 1986-1988 the two played together for the Chicago Cubs). Moyer went on to follow his own advice as he displayed exceptional command and didn’t walk a batter.
While he has been down on the farm, Moyer has been approached by teammates, coaches, and even opponents all of whom are seeking the secrets to pitching and fending off the ravages of age. Given that, it should come as no surprise that Moyer was asked during a post-game press conference what can he teach the Tides? To paraphrase, Moyer explained the secret to pitching can’t be given away, it must be observed; it lies in a combination of every batter’s swing and every pitcher’s arsenal, none of which are the same. But the beauty came from the fact that Moyer saw the question coming at cut off the questioner mid-sentence with the beginning of his answer.