Games » Cleveland IndiansAug18
Bruce Chen is now tied for the team lead with eight wins, and Yuniesky Betancourt has the team lead in home runs. Up is now down, black is now white, and dogs are now free to marry cats. Weird year, huh?
Speaking of weird…
Betancourt goes to his right and makes a nice play on a grounder, comes up like he’s going to second, sees there’s no play there and then just stops…looking for all the world like a man who’s trying very hard to remember where he left his car keys. Oh, right, on the dining room table…and MAYBE I could throw out the runner at first. Which he does with a great physical play that was only required because of his bout of temporary amnesia. Points for an outstanding defensive play and loss of points for a mental mistake. Breaking even on this one seemed about right to me.
Billy Butler gets points for heads-up baserunning by advancing to second on a throw home. The catcher has no tag play and decides to fire down to second to get Billy. The ball skips into center field and Billy (who had to slide) just sits there, like he’s on a union break. Points for advancing to second, loss of points for not advancing to third.
(Can anyone get some points without immediately giving them back?)
Gregor Blanco advances from second to third on a softly hit grounder that forces the third baseman to charge in. Normally a runner on second can’t advance on a ball hit in front of him, but the exception is the ball that makes the third baseman abandon the bag. Gregor made a quick read and gained some points.
Chris Getz made a couple of outstanding plays: handling a short hop from Betancourt and STILL turning a double play, and a leaping stab of a line drive. See? White men CAN jump…OK, some of us…a few…or maybe it’s just Chris Getz.
Bruce Chen told me when he picks his front foot up, he can decide whether to go to the plate or over to first. Great skill to have in your pocket: If the runner runs on first movement, Bruce goes over and has a pickoff. Chen also said he CAN’T do the same thing if he uses the slide step. (So runners actually have a better chance of stealing a base off Bruce if he uses the move designed to stop runners from stealing a base.) You don’t suppose the Indians read this, do you?
Kanekoa Texeira had a good first inning and got banged around in the second one. I asked what the difference was and he said his stuff was still there and they hit some good pitches. He then pointed out Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo got to see him twice. Fair enough: Starters have at least three pitches, relievers often have two and sometimes one (better be a good one). Hitters who see a reliever multiple times don’t have to do as much adjusting.
The better the pitcher, the more aggressive you have to be. A bad one might make several mistakes: if you’re lucky, a good pitcher might make one and you better hit it. Watch when Joakim Soria comes in the game. The guys who tee off early have better luck than the ones who wait around.
There are universal signs that all teams use to communicate. Men, if you pay attention, you can spot them and use this knowledge to impress your date. (Let’s face it: 90 percent of all male activity is an attempt to impress women…you didn’t think we REALLY needed to go to the moon, did you?) Women, if YOU pay attention and spot these signs, you can also impress your date. They’ll never go out with you again because men are insecure wimps and can’t stand the idea that you know more about baseball than they do, but they WILL be impressed.
I asked bench coach John Gibbons about the universal signs, and he gave me a few:
PLAYING BEHIND THE RUNNER: The first baseman will cross his wrists to let the pitcher know the runner at first is not being held. You might also see the first baseman do this while looking at the dugout. In this case, he’s asking if he should hold the runner or play behind him.
NO DOUBLES: Usually with the tying or winning run at the plate. A coach on the dugout steps will wave a hand behind his head. This means don’t let anything get behind you, no crazy dives or risky shoestring catches. Keep the ball in front and keep the batter on first, still two hits away from scoring. The behind-the-head wave is for the outfielders. Waving a hand down by the hip is the sign for the infielders. It’s telling them to guard the lines and don’t let anything past on that side.
THROW TO SECOND: A pat on the top of the head tells the outfielders to throw the ball to second base, keep the batter out of scoring position and forget trying to throw out a meaningless run at the plate.
ZONE DOWN: Fist out in front of the third-base coach’s belt or a box shape formed with the hands. This means have a small zone, get your pitch.
MAKE A GROUNDBALL GET THROUGH: Right hand under left arm. The third-base coach is reminding the runner on second to not advance on a grounder in front of him until it gets to the outfield.
FREEZE ON A LINE DRIVE: A motion with both hands like you’re flicking water off your fingertips. (I think there’s a chance Gibby was putting me on with this one.)
LOOK AROUND: Pointing to the eyes followed by a swirl of the finger. Check the position of the defenders. Also used by a runner on second to a runner on first. In this case, it means pay attention: if I steal third, you steal second.
BAD SKY: A point up and then a swirl. Usually seen at twilight, this means I’m having a hard time picking up the ball, make sure you help me out.
YOU/ME: With a runner on first, the middle infielders will hide their mouths with their gloves and signal who will cover second if the runner breaks. Open mouth means you, closed mouth means me, and it’s based on whether the pitch is a fastball or off-speed and whether it’s likely to be pulled or hit the other way.
And if a Royal extends his middle finger, that means the Yankees are in town.