Charlie Morton Salt Cupping Pine Tar — Sept 25, 2019: Tampa 4 NY 0

Charlie Morton was a mediocre pitcher for years until he went to Houston and became unhittable. It is rumored he was given the secret sauce of the Houston pitching coach. Just like Dallas Keuchel before him who had been a mediocre pitcher for several years until he went to Houston and became unhittable. In Keuchel’s case, the magic wore off and he became a medicre pitcher again and Houston dumped him.

Last winter, Houston did not resign Morton despite a 15-3 3.13 record. Tampa signed him and the thought was Houston ‘knew something’ — aka that the magic was about to wear off and Morton would become a mediocre pitcher again.

That hasn’t happened. Morton has had a terrific year in Tampa, leading them to the verge of the wildcard. He is now 16-6 3.05 after being unhittable in this game. The magic has not worn off.

The Magic on Morton’s Neck

Neither has the thing on his neck which was very obvious during this game and caused debate on twitter as to whether it was pine tar — perhaps the magical kind that the Houston pitching coach has been dispensing to the ire of Cleveland’s ace Trevor Bauer — or it was the remnant of “cupping” therapy advanced by Gwenyth Paltrow a few years ago. Some on twitter suggested it was a big hicky.

Cupping is a medical therapy technique where a message therapist puts suction cups on your body to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage. It leaves big cup marks on a person’s body. Morton’s mark was not circular but rather hicky-like rectangular.

In any case, nobody complained — if it was pine tar, the theory is that the hitters ‘prefer’ the pitchers to use it so that they can control the ball better and not hit them. The ball is super lively this year especially, which not only has resulted in lots of homers but also lots of strikeouts, as the ball MOVES so much when pitched. It is like they are playing stickball with a brand new Spaulding.

I was at an Outback restaurant just outside of Washington DC and they had the game on when Giancarlo Stanton went fishing for a Morton pitch shown in the middle of the video below for strike 3. Someone switched the channel right afterwards to a football game so there must have been another Yankee fan in the place.

The odd thing about the pine-tar-is-ok notion is that sometimes hitters don’t prefer it and complain and the pitcher is thrown out of the game, like Michael Pineda was for the Yankees several years ago against the Red Sox.

Morton pitched a no hitter into the 6th when DJ LeMahieu broke it up with a single. Morton finished with 6 shutout innings then the Tampa bullpen came in to shut out the Yankees for 3 more innings in the 4-0 loss. The Yankees dropped hopelessly behind Houston for best record in baseball and the American League, and are now a half game behind the Dodgers for home field in case they meet them in the World Series.

Jonathan Loaisiga started for the Yanks and took the loss, allowing 2 runs in 1 inning. J.A. Happ pitched 5 excellent innings of relief, allowing 1 run.

Aaron Judge made a great play in this game due to his hustle — coming in all the way from right field to make a tag play on a run down.

Etcetera

LeMahieu ended up 1 for 3 and is at .328; Tim Anderson is now at .338 and has pretty much salted away the batting title.

The Boxscore

https://www.espn.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=401077099

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