Games » Cleveland IndiansAug29
Well, if you need any more proof that we’re in the Last Days, Bruce Chen now leads the Royals in wins. Good for Bruce, but the fact that a reliever-made-starter has more wins than Zack Greinke, and seven different Royals pitchers got their first win in the big leagues this season, tells you what a chocolate-covered mess the pitching staff has been.
Apparently, I have low standards (the key to happiness as far as I’m concerned), but considering their pitching problems, I find it remarkable that the Royals have played so many close games. Now that I think of it, “It could be worse” isn’t a bad idea for a tattoo. I’ll ask Jason Kendall where he gets his work done.
Points of interest…
Wilson Betemit lost points when he picked up a ball that appeared to be rolling foul and turned it into a single. Even worse, he wasn’t even making a play on it, just picked it up and put it in his pocket. Chen restrained himself and didn’t start choking Wilson, probably because Wilson would kill him. (Sorry, Bruce, but in a steel cage match, I’d put my money on Betemit.)
Mike Aviles made a nice play after Kila knocked one sideways, turning the classic 3-4-3 to get an out at first.
Gregor Blanco got picked off by left-hander Tony Sipp and lost points. If a base stealer is going on first movement (which we don’t penalize, it’s a caught stealing), they’ll break hard for second. If they got caught napping, they’ll look like they’re daydreaming while waiting for a bus. Gregor had that waiting-for-a-bus look.
Hitters sometimes look for the same pitch on 3-1 that they got on 3-0. The pitcher’s in the same mode: trying to throw a strike. If a smart hitter gets the same pitch in the same location two times in a row, they’ve got a great chance of squaring it up the second time.
You can also see some interesting stuff by paying attention to fastball counts: 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1 and sometimes (depending on the situation) 3-2. In this game, you got to see Chen throw some change-ups in those counts. If a hitter thinks he’s getting a fastball and instead gets a change-up, he’ll take a very weak hack. Watch the radar gun speeds and you’ll soon figure out when a pitcher’s done this.
The insurance run…
Mitch Maier hit a home run in the eighth inning of this game that gave the Royals a two-run lead. That insurance run is huge. It means your pitcher can be as aggressive as he likes with the hitter at the plate, knowing the guy can hit it 900 feet, but the pitcher’s team will still have the lead.
That’s why you see all the head-shaking and looks of disgust from coaches when a pitcher in this situation nibbles and walks someone. By being timid, the pitcher has now put the tying run back at the plate. As long as you can keep the tying run in the on-deck circle, in the hole or somewhere in the dugout, the guy at the plate can’t hurt you.
###Lies, damn lies and statistics… Jason Kendall leads all American League catchers in errors: he’s awful. Jason Kendall leads all American League catchers in putouts and assists: he’s great.
Jason Kendall has given up more stolen bases than any other American League catcher: he’s awful. Jason Kendall has thrown out more base-stealers than any other American League catcher: he’s great.
Jason Kendall has caught a pitching staff with an ERA worse than last year: he’s awful. Jason Kendall has somehow helped Bruce Chen to nine wins and seven different pitchers to their first big-league win ever: he’s great.
So which is it? Is Jason Kendall awful or great? Me? I like him. Others have come to different conclusions. My point is that anyone who draws a conclusion from just one statistic is making a mistake. Nobody has the complete picture, certainly not me. I can watch every game, but I’m still guesstimating. Every statistic raises more questions, nobody has all the answers, and you should be wary of anyone who acts as though they do.
I’m sure of it.