Overanalysis: Patience at the plate pays off for Tigers

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Dirks and Alex Avila extended the third inning for the Tigers today, forcing starter Brandon Morrow to throw a lot more pitches than intended.

One of the biggest innings of today's win over the Toronto Blue Jays may have been one in which the Tigers didn't score any runs at all. In the top of the third, the Tigers were able to extend the inning with a pair of two-out walks, elevating starter Brandon Morrow's pitch count before he was pulled in the fourth inning.

Situation: Top of the third inning, runner on first base, two outs. Andy Dirks steps into the batter's box with Brandon Morrow sitting on 46 pitches through 2 2/3 innings. On a 1-0 count, Dirks takes a fastball just off the outside corner of the plate for a ball.

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Bonus! Today's GIFs have PitchFX data because I can't seem to find enough toys to keep myself busy. And because it looks sweet. Hover your cursor over the images to make them dance.

On the next pitch, Dirks fouls off a tough slider breaking down-and-in.

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He then takes a pair of pitches high to draw the first two-out walk of the inning, moving Miguel Cabrera over to second base.

Alex Avila started his plate appearance by fouling off a first-pitch fastball. The next pitch is a splitter on the edge of the strike zone that Avila takes for a called strike.

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While the pitch is called a strike, PitchFX shows that it was just off the corner of the plate. Regardless, Avila battles back from the 0-2 count to force a 3-2 pitch. Morrow's splitter is just outside the strike zone, putting Avila on first.

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After a visit to the mound, Morrow is able to retire Peralta on a grounder to second, but not until Peralta sees another three pitches from Morrow, bumping his pitch count up to 61 through three innings.

The end result: 15 pitches and two walks, which essentially takes an inning off the end of Morrow's start on a normal day.

While this may seem fairly insignificant given how the next inning went, keep this in mind: last season, our #5 hitter facing a tough right-hander would have likely resulted in a one-pitch out. This year -- and caveats about Victor Martinez being the real #5 hitter apply -- it results in 15 more pitches before getting the final out of the inning. On another day, it may have resulted in an RBI single, if not more.

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