The Closer: hump-day edition

Wednesday featured plenty of great pitching performances. We'll delve into why some pitchers dominated and why the starters in the Phillies-Nationals game did everything BUT dominate.

Why Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez dominated:

- Finished off Pirates hitters: of 17 batters to reach two-strike counts he struck out 11 and just two reached base (both on walks).

- 6 of 8 innings pitched were 1-2-3 innings.

- 9 of 11 strikeouts were on off-speed pitches. Hitters chased 38 percent of pitches out of the strike zone (MLB avg. is 31 percent).

Why Cardinals starter Brad Penny won:

- Great command of pitches: 73 percent of fastballs and 70 percent of off-speed pitches were thrown for strikes. (MLB avg. is 64 percent and 61 percent respectively).

- Batters chased the off-speed stuff: hitters chased 50 percent of off-speed pitches (MLB avg. is 31 percent).

- He started strong: after allowing a leadoff single in the first inning, he got the first batter out of the next 6 innings he pitched. (86 percent compared to MLB average 68 percent).

Why White Sox starter John Danks won:

- Hitters went 2-14 (4 K) against offspeed pitches and chased 44 percent of pitches out of the zone (MLB avg. is 31 percent).

- Generated 13 swinging strikes against offspeed pitches, his most in a start since May 9, 2009; hitters missed 46 percent of swings on his offspeed pitches.

- Finished off 10 of 11 hitters that reached 2 strikes.

Why Angels starter Joel Pineiro won:

- Good command of fastball (71 percent strikes; MLB avg is 64); generated 9 swinging strikes and 6 of 7 strikeouts with fastball.

- Stayed ahead of hitters: reached 2-0 count just twice and 3-ball count just 4 times against 26 hitters.

Why Nationals starter Craig Stammen and Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick were awful (combined numbers):

- Hitters missed on just 4 of 42 swings (9.5 percent; MLB avg.: 18.8 percent).

- Fooled no one with offspeed stuff: hitters went 5-for-6, missed 1 of 11 swings, chased 15 percent of pitches out of the strike zone (MLB avg: 31 percent).

- Retired just 4 of 10 batters that reached 2 strikes (MLB avg.: 72 percent).

- Reached 3-ball count on 8 of 26 hitters faced (31 percent; MLB avg.: 19 percent).

Hitter of the Night:

Wednesday night Chase Utley had his 18th career multi–HR game. So far in 2010 he’s batting .400 with a 1.491 OPS and hit all four of his HR against fastballs. Perhaps even more impressive is that Utley only has 1 strikeout on the year, which gives him a 4:1 HR to K ratio. Though it’s still far too early to assume Utley can keep up this kind of pace, the last time a player finished the season with more than 20 HR and had more HR than K was Barry Bonds in 2004 (45 HR, 41 K). In fact, it’s only happened one other time since 1956 (George Brett in 1980 when he hit 24 HR and struck out 22 K).