Games » Texas RangersAug31
During this game, a glacier melted, two species went extinct, haircuts went out of style and the earth’s climate changed…or maybe it just seemed that long. I looked at the scoreboard, saw 18 runs, 25 hits and the game was still in the sixth inning.
Give the Royals credit (which I’ve been trying to do). In another losing season, they keep battling.
In the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied 9-9 (I’d write a description of how that happened, but War & Peace would be shorter), Wilson Betemit led off with a double. Willie Bloomquist pinch-ran, and Kila Ka’aihue tried to move him over but struck out instead.
Brayan Pena walked. Bloomquist then stole third with left-handed Alex Gordon at the plate. Tricky, because a left-handed hitter gives the catcher a clear shot at third base. Willie said he got a breaking pitch to run on (they take longer to get to the catcher and the movement makes them more difficult to handle), and just made it.
The Rangers then brought in right-handed pitcher Alexi Ogando, who throws approximately a billion miles an hour, to face Yuniesky Betancourt. Nothing Ogando threw was even close to the zone and yet somehow, Yuni didn’t swing.
The first pitch was actually 100 miles an hour, and the second pitch was in the dirt. Catcher Matt Treanor didn’t get in front of it, but reached out to backhand the ball successfully. The second time Ogando bounced a pitch, Treanor tried the same backhand move, didn’t get as lucky, and the ball went to the screen. Game over.
Paul Splittorff, who knows more than I ever will, said there was no time for Treanor to block, but I’d still like to see a catcher attempt to move his body with the game on the line. Just one more reason to appreciate Jason Kendall and all those times he got in front of pitches to save runs.
Bob McClure, pitching coach, told me the Royals’ philosophy is to throw strikes from the mid-thigh down. If the pitchers go up, it should be by design: up out of the zone as a chase pitch, up and in to open up low and away, etc. (you can watch for this on TV: concentrate on the catcher’s glove and see how much it moves to receive the ball).
After this game, Ned Yost said the Royals’ pitchers had spent too much time pitching from mid-thigh up and paid the price.
Before the game, I spent some time with future Irish bar owner Sean O’Sullivan, and he talked about the need to challenge hitters. Give him credit: He was as good as his word. He continued to throw strikes even after Vladimir Guerrero hit a ball into the fountains. (Whoever got this souvenir must’ve worn a snorkel.)
Sean got knocked around but didn’t make things worse by walking people. So much of pitching is learning to limit the damage, and Sean did that. His line in the box score looks lousy, but by having the guts to continue going after hitters, he kept it from looking worse.
I also got a chance to talk to bench coach John Gibbons. Gibby has become a go-to guy for me: He tells me when he thinks I’m right and when he thinks I’m wrong…and he thinks I’m wrong about Gregor Blanco’s arm.
I’ve said I thought Gregor’s arm was sub-par. Gibby says it’s not a great arm for right (the right fielder has the longest throws), but it’s a good arm for center field. If I were you, I’d trust Gibbons’ opinion more than mine.
On the other hand, when I asked him what part of town he was living in, Gibby couldn’t remember. So maybe you shouldn’t trust either one of us.
You think THAT’s unusual?
Everyone was talking about the Royals’ walk-off wild pitch win. I can top that. Lots of players have won games with walk-off hits, walk-off walks or walk-off hit by pitches, but how many players have a walk-off catcher’s interference?
That’s right: bases loaded, tie game, I swing and hit the catcher’s glove. I can’t tell you what a wild celebration that set off…mainly because it didn’t. We all looked at each other and said, “So, the game’s, like…over?” Everyone on both teams walked off shaking their heads.
It’s not much to brag about, but a win’s a win. As Clint Hurdle once said to me, “It’s not how, it’s how many.”
And this morning, I’m sure the Royals would agree.