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07/02/08 9:24 PM ET
Mota might be tipping pitches
Manager, pitching coach investigating reliever's struggles
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux and manager Ned Yost hovered around a video screen at Chase Field on Wednesday morning trying to determine what happened to reliever Guillermo Mota the previous night. Mota surrendered a run on two hits in the eighth inning of Tuesday's win, but his night could have been much worse. The D-backs scalded every ball they hit, including a hot grounder to second baseman Joe Dillon and a liner hit right at first baseman Mike Rivera. Dillon made a slick play to get a forceout on Chris Young's grounder, and Rivera made a spectacular diving catch to rob Miguel Montero, then tapped first base to complete an inning-ending and potentially game-saving double play, preserving the Brewers' two-run lead. "We looked on the video," Yost said. "[Maddux] was here at 11:30 a.m. when I got here going over videotape on [Mota]. He's got velocity, he's got stuff. We don't know if he's tipping pitches. They hit some pretty good pitches." Tipping has been an issue for Mota in the past, including this spring. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story in Spring Training, Brewers outfielder Mike Cameron told Mota he was showing his grip before hiding his right hand behind his glove. Something like that could explain why Arizona hitters were on everything Mota threw at them on Tuesday, Yost said. "You're throwing 95-96 [mph], you're throwing changeups, you're throwing two-seamers and four-seamers, you're throwing sliders," Yost said. "They were seeing something really, really good." Small samples can be misleading, especially for relief pitchers, but in five outings since Mota threw a scoreless inning against the Orioles on June 15, opponents are hitting .412 against him. Mota has allowed seven hits, three walks and three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings over that span. For the season, Mota has been a solid addition to Milwaukee's bullpen, posting a 4.22 ERA in 30 games. With the return of David Riske and Eric Gagne from the disabled list in recent weeks, Yost has plenty of options to work the eighth inning, though he was looking for a low-pressure situation to work Gagne back into the mix.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.