In order for a changeup to be effective, it needs to look like a fastball coming out of a pitcher's hand but arrive at the plate several miles per hour slower than the heater.
For Boston Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad, whose fastball often sits in the mid-90s, an upper-80s changeup would be very effective to fool opposing batters.
However, on Wednesday night against the Texas Rangers, Abad used a much different version of the pitch to absolutely baffle Texas slugger Adrian Beltre.
As you can see in the video below, Abad tosses his changeup to the plate at a ridiculously slow 62 mph, causing Beltre to freeze and drop to one knee out of complete confusion and inability to adjust his eyes to the super-slow offering:
Obviously, big-league hitters are used to facing pitches much faster than 62 mph, and Beltre has deposited more than his fair share of 100 mph fastballs into the bleachers for home runs. Therefore, a pitch that slow, when catching a batter by surprise, is incredibly effective.
Beltre lined out to shortstop later in the at-bat to end the inning, but he finished the game 1-for-3 at the plate with a walk and two runs scored. His Rangers also had to last laugh as they went on to win the game 8-2 in Arlington.
The Rangers rallied behind a strong performance from starter Andrew Cashner, who threw seven innings and only gave up two unearned runs, earning heavy praise from his manager, according to MLB.com:
"Big-time performance by Cashner," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He went out there and put his foot down. His sinker was dynamic and they stuck with it. Great focus. When we get a performance like that, it sets up everything for our offense."
Beltre, one of the best hitters (and defensive third basemen, too) of this era, has battled injuries this year and has only appeared in 32 games. However, in that time, he's hitting .282 with five home runs and 22 RBI.
Fortunately for Beltre, the Rangers managed to win easily on Wednesday night, so his embarrassing reaction to Abad's 62 mph pitch will be received with laughter and joking from his Texas teammates, who always love to mess with the well-respected veteran.
The Rangers improved to 41-44 with the victory, but still trail the red-hot Houston Astros by a whopping 17 games in the American League West division. The Red Sox, meanwhile, fell to 49-36 with the loss, but still hold a four-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East.