Games » Baltimore OriolesJul29
I’ve heard what Royals manager Ned Yost had to say about this ballgame. I’ve read Star Royals writer Bob Dutton’s thoughts, and I feel like we all saw the same car wreck and noticed something different.
Whenever I break down a ballgame, the first thing I look for are the things my team controls. We control throwing strikes, making the routine play on defense, pitch selection and how we run the bases.
Baseball and its strategies can get complicated. Read “Three Nights in August” (a book about Tony La Russa’s managing process) and you’re surprised he can order lunch without having a nervous breakdown.
And yet, these immensely complicated games (what did he hit last season against left-handers in day games following night games on the road in August when facing a left-hander on natural grass?) are still won and lost on throwing strikes, making the routine play on defense, pitch selection and how you run the bases.
So what did I notice in this car wreck?
Walking people is asking for trouble. Walking people in extra innings is sending trouble an engraved invitation. Walking the leadoff batter in a tie game in extra innings is double-daring trouble to punch you in the face after insulting his (or her) mother.
Blake Wood got punched in the face.
Concentrate on Betancourt…
In the sixth inning with the double play in order, the ball was hit back to Kyle Davies. Pitchers are taught to turn and throw the ball directly over the bag and count on the middle infielder to get there. I thought that’s what Kyle did. Yost said the throw was a bit hurried, but it seemed like a very makeable (my computer is telling me that’s not a word…but it ought to be) catch. Yuniesky Betancourt missed it and the ball went into center field. (The scorekeeper must’ve seen it my way because it was scored an E6.)
Whenever you see a defender not make a routine play, they are almost always mentally getting ahead of themselves: thinking about the throw before they make the catch or in this case, thinking about getting two outs before getting one. There have been lots of questions about Yuniesky’s ability to concentrate on every play…and now there’s one more.
The last-place Orioles…
Just remember, you don’t have to be that bad to be in last place in the A.L. East.
Jose Guillen got a lousy jump from second on an Ankiel single to right, perhaps because he didn’t check where the outfielders were positioned beforehand. Third-base coaches will point to their eyes, a sign to the runner on second to take a look around, which often allows the runner to break right away. There was also one down at the time, which means Jose should’ve been taking a lead anyway. Guillen later scored, but it’s the kind of small detail that can come back to bite you (and it’s one of the things you control).
Kendall did a good job running the bases, stopping at third on Billy Butler’s double (there were no outs and the tying run was at the plate) and getting aggressive at the right time in the ninth, trying to stretch a single into a double with two outs. Even though he got thrown out, it was a good call: He was the winning run and if he stays at first, the Royals probably need two more hits to score him.
(A side note…Here’s how you catch 2,000 games: Jason was telling me about an old thumb injury that made him alter his swing. It still hurts at times, but Jason told me that was OK because, “Pain is whatever you decide it is.” I’ve thought about it, and I’ve decided pain hurts and it hurts every time. Guess I’m not catching 2,000 games anytime soon.)