Games » Detroit TigersSep4
Once again the Royals had a pitch mishandled with a runner on third. In this case, the catcher, Lucas May, had a passed ball allowing Will Rhymes to score. That’s two nights in a row a crucial run has come in when a catcher failed to block a pitch.
A Jason Kendall fan might be tempted to say, “SEE? THAT’S WHAT HE WAS GETTING PAID FOR!”…but that’s a bit unfair to Lucas May.
Let me explain why.
A couple of nights ago I was walking up the steps to the clubhouse when Lucas came up behind me. He was lost and wanted to know where the clubhouse was. So he asked me. Now THAT’S lost.
He seemed about two breaths shy of hyperventilating and looked like a cat testing contact lenses (I may have stolen that line from George Carlin. I was high both times I saw him in concert, so I really don’t remember.)
After pointing him in the direction of the clubhouse, I asked Lucas how long until this just became baseball again. He said, “I don’t know, ask me in a couple years.” (Not that he was predicting he’d stay that long, more that it would take him years to calm down.)
May’s nerves might have been showing in this game. I think it was the second pitch of the game that he failed to glove, allowing a fastball to nail home plate umpire Dan Iassogna in the mask.
Appearing in your first big league game is nerve-wracking enough, now mix in catching guys you’re unfamiliar with. The passed balls came with Blake Wood on the mound, and he’s got nasty movement.
So even though it wasn’t a great outing for Lucas May, we should all probably cut him some slack. But Jason Kendall probably would’ve blocked that pitch.
In the third inning, with a runner on third, Alex Gordon caught what turned out to be a sacrifice fly. Johnny Damon (who’s got a bit of a reputation for running fast) was the guy headed home and it seemed unlikely that Alex would be able to get him at the plate. Gordon gave it the good old college try (whatever the hell that cliché means) and launched an artillery lob that overshot the cutoff man.
On this play, the throw should be hard and low. That gives you options: if it’s a good throw and has a chance, the catcher will yell “Let it go.” The cutoff man will reach up and fake catching the ball in an effort to freeze any other runners. If the ball has no chance, the catcher will yell “Cut two” or “Cut three”. In other words, catch the ball and throw it to that base.
A high throw — and Gordon’s throw couldn’t have been any higher unless it was at that George Carlin concert with me — not only allows the runner to score, but lets the other runners move up, since they can see the ball can’t be cut off.
Alex’s throw allowed that svelte whippet, Miguel Cabrera, to move from first to second and made Bruce Chen get the final out with a runner in scoring position. A mental mistake for sure and perhaps a moral one.
Baseball can be cruel
In the sixth inning, Tigers catcher Max St. Pierre fouled a ball off his right knee. Imagine taking a fastball off the kneecap. It hurts a lot. The Tigers trainers, a few coaches, a paramedic, two witch doctors and they might’ve had a priest for last rites mixed in there, came out of the dugout to check his condition.
Meanwhile, as a courtesy, catcher Lucas May made an unnecessary visit to the mound. He and Phil Humber held a conference to give Max time to recover. Then the umpire, the aforementioned Dan Iassogna, got into the act, stalling the game by cleaning off home plate. (Dumb, but interesting sidelight: did you know home plate umpires never clean off the plate while facing the mound? It’s considered impolite to show their posterior — and you know that’s not the word I want to use — to the crowd.)
All this, so Max St. Pierre had time to recover. It’s a baseball tradition. Two pitches later, Phil Humber followed another baseball tradition: throwing another pitch in the same spot as the pitch that St. Pierre had fouled off. When you’re at the plate and this happens, alarm bells go off in your mind, “IT HURTS TO SWING AT THIS PITCH!” St. Pierre told him not to swing, so Max followed a third baseball tradition: striking out looking.
Next time a hitter fouls a pitch off a body part, watch where the next pitch is. Like I said, baseball can be cruel.
Speaking of pitch sequence
One of the most interesting things you can see when watching a game on TV is pitch sequence. In the second inning Alex Gordon took a fastball low and away for a called strike. That will make a hitter lean out a bit to cover that spot. Now that Rick Porcello had Alex leaning out, the next pitch was a fastball up and in. Gordon fouled it off, but now they had him leaning back. Porcello took one shot at getting Alex to swing at a pitch up out of the zone (he didn’t) and then went right back to the low and away zone the second pitch had opened up.
Called strike three.
This is what baseball is all about and, if you’re not watching this stuff, you’re missing the game. Once you begin watching this stuff, you’ll realize there’s always something happening, too much for one person to take in. Anytime someone calls baseball boring, my response is that there’s so much going on out there, I don’t know where to look.
Nice problem to have.