He takes off his cap and wipes again
as he looks around at the man on first
the man on second

The scoreboard reminds him there are
two outs
and the count is two and two

He thinks about wasting a pitch
teasing the batter
making him nibble at a bad one

Then he sets himself on the mound
the heel of one foot
on the rubber

He stares down at the catcher
two fingers, one, three, one
off to the left

He reads the signal sets to pitch
looks at the man on second
the man on first

He tightens the grip on the ball
the feel of two seams gives him
confidence and strength

He hears the cheering, the
rhythmic clapping of fans
wanting a hit, an RBI

His foot kicks the air, his arm drops
then the arm comes over the top
He releases the ball with a slight twist

He finishes with his arm across his body
the glove up ready for action
both feet firmly planted

He can almost hear the ball cut
air as if it were a knife slicing an apple
he thinks Good pitch

The ball slams into the catcher’s mitt
a loud thud, No, he thinks, an explosion
The irresistible meeting the immovable

The batter is still standing there looking
down as the umpire pumps a fist in the air
yells, Stee-rike!

The batter shakes his head, slaps his hand
against the bat, walks away as the pitcher
bangs a fist into his glove, walks back to the dugout