Games » Chicago White SoxSep12
If you think watching paint dry is boring, try listening to it dry. This game was only on the radio (I watch the significant plays later on the internet) so I had to listen to 349 pitches thrown (that count may be off, my heart stopped from boredom and the paramedics had to come to the house and jump-start me), 28 hits, 10 walks and 18 runs scored. The game took … let me check my watch … a year off my life.
The Royals started by scoring six runs in the first. They should’ve left the dugout, taken their showers and headed for the airport, because they were done scoring for the day and managed to lose 12-6.
Weirdly enough, a big inning early is scary for anyone who’s done much managing. Teams often go dead when they jump out to a big lead. It’s like everyone figures their work is done and begin to go through the motions. It’s unfair for me to say that’s what happened … I don’t know … the Royals probably don’t know … but it’s why you see pitcher get two quick outs and then get clobbered. You can’t change your approach just because you jumped out to a big lead.
Changing your approach…
OK, we’ve established that you don’t want to change your approach when you’re doing well … how about when you’re getting your butt kicked? Depends on the effort, not the results. If you’re hitting the ball well, but not getting hits, don’t change. If you’re throwing good pitches and the opposition is blooping flares in, don’t change … but if they’re hitting rockets, maybe it’s time to reassess … and the White Sox starting pitcher, Lucas Harrell, did.
He began to work quicker after the first inning. This is one of the simplest things a pitcher can do, it’s entirely within his control, it makes a change of speed more effective (there’s a long, involved semi-scientific reason why: the short version is hitters are still reacting to the memory of the previous pitch) and yet a lot of pitchers don’t work quickly.
Harrell did and it helped.
Mike Aviles made a nice play when he semi-cheated on a ball hit by A.J. Pierzynski (couldn’t happen to a nicer guy). Middle infielders can see the signs and adjust their first step (but not their positioning before the pitch, the hitter would see that) based on the pitch.
Mike could see they were going to pitch A.J. inside, cheated to the pull side of the field and made a nice play to get the lead runner, Manny Ramirez. This probably saved a run later in the inning…so it could’ve been 13-6. Thank God for small favors.
The tying run…
The tying run was scored on a passed ball by Brayan Pena. The old-school theory of baseball (before they started growing 6-6 shortstops) was that the four players up the middle (catcher, short, second and center field) were primarily defensive players. The four players in the corners were primarily offensive players.
I’m as old-school as someone who survived the disco era can be (and, yes, I owned a three-piece white suit, but thankfully never permed my hair). The guys in the middle handle the ball so much they just can’t make up for bad defense with four plate appearances. I’m not saying Brayan’s bad, he’s throwing well and hitting better, but it sounds like his defense is still a work in progress.
Butler and the hit and run…
Billy Butler killed a rally in the second by grounding into another double play. That’s the 4 billionth of the season (that’s a guesstimate). I’ve wondered why they don’t use the hit and run with Butler at the plate more often than they do, which is approximately never. I asked John Gibbons that question and he thought with so little extra-base power in the lineup, it made sense to let Butler and Wilson Betemit swing at their pitches, not the ones they happened to get in a hit and run.
Apparently, Ned Yost wants them to drive the ball, not slap a grounder the other way in a hit and run. Of course Billy’s slapping a lot of grounders anyway so I’m not sure I agree, but Ned knows a lot more baseball than I ever will, so I’d tend to trust his judgment … and Butler hit a three-run shot in this game, so I guess the let-him-swing-at-his-pitch strategy pays off on occasion.
Only the shadow knows…
This game lasted so long that the shadows came into play in the last couple innings. After slapping the Royals pitchers around for six innings (Jesse Chavez did well in the seventh) Greg Holland struck out the side in the eighth. I’m not saying Greg’s not an awesome pitcher (work your way through THAT double negative, pilgrim), but if the hitters can’t see the ball, it helps.
I’ve had some personal experience with this and it’s a scary situation for any hitter. The background is till in sunshine so the pitcher is a silhouette. You can see the ball come out of his hand (it’s also a silhouette), but when the ball passes in front of the pitcher, it’s gone until it come out the other side … if it ever does.
I did this facing guys throwing about 72 mph with a tailwind and THAT was scary. At the end of the game, Chris Sale, left-handed (and those pitchers are a bit nuts already…look closely, they can rarely get their caps on straight) was throwing sidearm in the high nineties. One pitch to Alex Gordon hit 100 miles per hour. Lefty, lots of movement, hitting three digits on the gun and you can’t see the pitch. I think it’s one of the few times ballplayers aren’t getting paid enough.