ARLINGTON -- Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Monday's 7-0 Rays win over the Rangers. While he did allow some baserunners, he managed to get the game's final out to preserve the shutout.
The former Rays closer feels like his mechanics are a little bit off, so he has been working with pitching coach Jim Hickey to find what feels right.
"It's just the mechanics of pitching," Balfour said. "Getting to the point where you can put your body where you can execute pitches. I'm getting closer to feeling where I was, where I used to be. There's a few difference. The front side flies open, the arm angle. Just trying to get that arm slot at the same time.
"I can feel that I'm out of kilter when I'm not hitting that spot. The last five or six years, you go through a couple of little things here or there. But for the most part, I could nail that corner all day long with the fastball, breaking balls, whatever. That's why the numbers are there [in the past]. And I know that when I'm on and hitting my spot, they're tough pitches to hit."
Balfour doesn't feel as if he's far off from where he should be mechanically.
"Not a massive thing," Balfour said. "A couple of small things. Last night I probably over-exaggerated a little bit. But I liked my stuff last night. Way better than Chicago. I think I'm headed the right direction from where I was."
Balfour allowed that confidence is a part of the equation.
"It's a big deal," Balfour said. "Pitching is definitely confidence. Hitting is definitely confidence. And you get results, you get confidence. It's big. Not having it can drag you down. When you start feeling it, things roll."
Manager Joe Maddon feels like Balfour has thrown the ball well this season. Maddon cited the fact that left-handers entered Tuesday night's action hitting .220 and right-handers were just .230.
"The thing is, we believe in him so much more than he probably believes in himself right now," Maddon said. "Walks are killing him, the walks are really high. But when he's actually challenging guys over the plate, there's hasn't been a lot of damage."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less