KANSAS CITY -- Survival for hitters on the Major League level often boils down to being able to counter as pitchers adjust to tendencies. That, Allen Craig said, is what has largely consumed his time over the past few weeks.
Craig's recent slide at the plate coincided with pitchers attacking him with an overabundance of sliders. Those fastballs that Craig had been able to tee off on earlier this season were suddenly coming with less regularity. And Craig's numbers showed the effects of a player working to adjust.
"They're not going to give me fastballs," Craig said. "I would say for the past three weeks it's been a lot more sliders, especially with runners in scoring position. I'm still learning. I'm making adjustments on the fly, seeing what works and what doesn't work, and just battling."
That approach paid off on Saturday, when Craig battled in an eight-pitch at-bat in the seventh inning until he got a slider that he was able to drive into the left-field stands. Five of the pitches Royals reliever Greg Holland threw to Craig during that at-bat were sliders.
Craig laid off two of them that were outside the strike zone. He then fouled off two more. Craig let a fastball go that was off the plate before creaming the next slider.
"You learn which sliders you can hit and which you can't, when to be aggressive and when to back off a little bit," said Craig, who was 2-for-22 before that home run. "It's a learning process. It's more about just making adjustments and trying to figure out what they're doing to me."
While the percentages are more skewed over the past few weeks, even the season numbers reflect the change of approach pitchers are taking against Craig. Of the pitches Craig saw last season, 18.4 percent were sliders. That number in 2012 is 22.3 percent. The percentage of fastballs thrown to Craig has decreased from 56 to 52.9 in the same span.