Too many pitchers have a tendency to get off track when they have runners on base. They try to have perfect control. They overthrow the ball instead of just throwing it in a natural manner. Basically what they are doing is they are getting away from what made them successful in the first place and are no longer themselves on the mound. If you start to press too much, the odds increase that the other team will have a big inning and a good part of the reason is you may have brought it on yourself because you stopped being yourself and tried to do too much.
It’s not a major issue if the other team scores a couple of runs. This is simply the way the game is. The only certainties when pitching are that sometimes things are not going to go your way, no matter how good you are. It’s not always going to be a 1-2-3 inning.
Your best chance at damage control is by staying within yourself. Some excellent pitchers actually pretend that there are NO base runners on. Of course they are aware of the base runners and have to pitch from the stretch, etc. But their primary focus is on making their regular good quality pitches and let the chips fall where they may. It’s almost an I don’t care attitude. Quality pitches are quality pitches whether nobody is on base or if the bases are loaded so don’t let the base runners stop you from making those quality pitches. Relax and focus only on the next pitch and not the tough situation you may be in.
In a very important playoff game, here is what a fabulous pitcher once did. The opposing team had the tying run on third base with two outs in the last inning and a very good hitter at the plate. The pitcher visualized one of the worst possible scenarios that could take place. He visualized that the hitter got the game tying hit off him and then the team scored an additional run to win the game.
The pitcher reminded himself that even if that happened, the following day he would be vacationing at one of his favorite spots. This totally relaxed the pitcher and he retired the very good hitter on an infield pop up to end the game and win this pivotal playoff game.
Even if a couple of runners are on base, relax and be yourself on the mound!