Games » Cleveland IndiansSep17
I don’t know who threw the ceremonial first pitch in this game, but I’m pretty sure Shin-Soo Choo homered off him. It seems likely, he homered off everybody else. After the game Brayan Pena shook his head, saying they’d thrown soft, hard, in, out and it didn’t make any difference. Choo crushed everything.
Why it didn’t make any difference
Before the game, Jeff Montgomery talked about a pitcher’s stuff (velocity and movement). Monty said when your stuff isn’t overpowering, just a little drop off (say 3 miles per hour or an inch or two of movement) makes you very hittable. Zack Greinke has overpowering stuff, so on a bad night, he’s still very good. Most of the other pitchers have less margin for error. That’s why Bryan Bullington can dominate the Yankees in one outing and get up lit up like Broadway in the next.
The bottom of the order
The Royals had 10 hits, six of them for extra bases. Seems like plenty, right? Unfortunately for the team, seven of the hits came from two guys, Billy Butler and Mike (Gangster Hack) Aviles. If the 10 hits had been spread up and down the lineup the result would’ve been more runs.
Russ Morman once pointed out that anytime a team scores a lot of runs, you should look at the bottom of the order. They need to have a big night to keep rallies going. In this game the five through nine spots had one hit, one walk and nine strikeouts.
I don’t like to second guess, but
I’ve tried to make it clear that third-base coaches don’t get any credit for good decisions but do get blamed for bad ones. A guy’s out on a bang-bang play at the plate and the coach is an idiot. A guy’s safe on a bang-bang play and it was a great slide.
So I don’t like to second guess, but first guessing should be OK. Watching the play unfold, I was wincing BEFORE Mike Aviles got thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the fourth.
The Royals gave up four runs in the top of the fourth. Aviles led off the bottom half of the inning with a double. Billy Butler then smoked a line drive into left. Mike was coming into third and Eddie Rodriguez waved him home despite a shopping bag full of reasons not to:
- There was nobody out, and the four, five and six hitters were coming to the plate.
- The Royals were down by four. This was a chance to put up a crooked number.
- Billy hit a shot, and it got to left fielder Trevor Crowe in a hurry.
- The ball was in front of Crowe, he was coming pretty much straight in with no lateral movement and that meant a strong throw.
Aviles was out by a good margin. On the other hand, if Rodriguez had thrown up the stop sign, the crowd would’ve been happy to boo his timidity. Fans have the luxury of waiting until the play is over before reacting. That’s why this stuff has to be thought about before the ball is put in play. I’m sure Eddie thought it out, and I’ll guarantee you there was some other factor in his mind that hasn’t occurred to me. I still think he needed to play it safe in this situation.
After Aviles was thrown out
Billy Butler didn’t get to second even though there was a collision at the plate between Aviles and Lou Marson. The cutoff man (the guy in the middle of the infield) made a nice deke, pretending to reach up and grab the throw headed to the plate.
If the cutoff man can convince the runner, even for a second, that the ball is going to be redirected, the runner may not be able to advance. That’s why a throw that comes in too high (and the Royals have done this more than once) allows the trailing runner to move up: the decoy isn’t believable.
Billy stayed at first (he runs like a powerful locomotive — station to station) and only made it to second on the Wilson Betemit single that came next. Two fielder’s choices later and the Indians were out of the inning without giving up a run.
Maier’s fifth inning strikeout
When Mitch Maier struck out in the fifth, Alex Gordon and Yuniesky Betancourt helped. Together they made two outs on four pitches. Mitch did the team thing by taking until he had two strikes to make sure the opposing pitcher, Carlos Carrasco, didn’t get out of the inning too quickly.
Whenever the inning’s leadoff man has a short at-bat, pay attention to what the following hitters do. Yuni swung at the first pitch, Mitch worked the count.
There’s a saying in baseball, “The further you get away from dirt, the easier the game gets.” I’ve had the privilege of watching major league baseball all summer and it IS a privilege. There are only 30 major league teams in the country. I’ve done extensive sabermetric research on this and I’m almost positive that means there can only be 15 major league games in the entire nation on any given night. Even a battle between two teams fighting to stay out of the cellar features fabulous players and great performances.
It’s easy for me to say Eddie Rodriguez should’ve done this or Yuniesky Betancourt should’ve done that. I’m so far from dirt I need a telescopic lens to see it, and you are, too.