Games » Cleveland IndiansSep18
This game had more delays than my last Amtrak trip. Somewhere around the sixth inning, the grounds crew began constructing an ark. Animals were walking two by two. Jacques Cousteau pinch hit in the fifth. The outfielders were wearing life preservers and flippers. I think Eddie Rodriguez was wearing a snorkel. It came down in sheets. Then it came down in quilts. In other words, it rained…A LOT.
Someone in the press box said the four delays added up to three hours and 40 minutes. To be honest, it didn’t seem that long &mdahs; it seemed longer. This game would’ve aged Benjamin Button.
They did play some baseball
Sean O’Sullivan gave up five runs in the fifth inning, four of them on a grand slam by Matt LaPorta. One of the things that hit you when you watch every game (besides the fact that you should’ve asked for more money) is how often the statistics can be misleading.
O’Sullivan’s five earned runs in four innings looks awful, but the statistics don’t reflect the two groundballs that got past Billy Butler and Josh Fields. Both looked playable and if either of them gets caught, Sean’s out of the inning with minimal or no damage. On most nights, the Royals corner infielders have the same approximate range as the Empire State Building on a windy day.
When you look at Mike Aviles’ RBI totals, remember who he was trying to drive in and their lack of foot speed. When you look at the number of stolen bases Jason Kendall gave up, remember how often a Royals pitcher did a bad job of holding the runner. And when you look at the team ERA (worst in the league), remember the team fielding percentage and number of errors (worst in the league). This stuff is all connected. Remember: no one number tells the whole story.
Another gangster hack
In the fifth inning, the Royals got right back into it with two two-run home runs: Jai Miller’s first big league bomb and Mike Aviles’ sixth of the season. Recently Mike said he decided to quit babying his elbow and swing harder (he called it a “gangster hack”). Like about every other contrarian thing he does (most people who try to swing harder go in the tank), Aviles is making this work. Not much about Mike’s game is textbook (unless the textbook is on abnormal behavior), but it’s fun to watch.
Jarrod Dyson can motor, and that was on display last night. Dyson stole a base easily and covered more ground in this game than the tarp crew. In the seventh inning he hit a broken bat roller toward second and took off like a cheetah that spotted a gazelle with a limp. Maybe it’s because I could never go that fast unless someone ejected me from a moving vehicle (and I suspect several people have considered it), but I love watching guys who can run.
A work in progress
Lucas May had a passed ball in this game that was caused by the position of his mitt. The ball was down and to his glove side, and he never got the mitt turned over (palm up, although there is some disagreement as to whether turning the mitt is the right way to play this). This was May’s fourth passed ball in four games. By contrast, Jason Kendall had six passed balls in 118 games.
When a catcher is great at blocking pitches it isn’t always appreciated — until you see one that isn’t.
Lucas also got hit on the hand when he tried to lean back on an inside pitch. A hitter that does this instead of rotating the front shoulder back toward the catcher (which protects the hands, the wrists, the face, the huevos rancheros — shoot, ALL the fun stuff) risks injury.
Yuniesky Betancourt got sloppy on a routine throw, once again getting slightly under the ball and sailing it up and away to Bill Butler’s left. Billy made a nice play, leaping to catch the ball (must’ve been three, four inches) and making the tag while spinning counter-clockwise. The spin protects the first baseman’s wrist from getting bent back and allows the mitt to give with the runner’s momentum. Then the umpire missed the call. The best laid plans of mice and first basemen oft go astray. (The baseball version of the quote.)
Bruce Chen’s magic act
Bruce Chen agreed with me: we’d BOTH like to go back six months in time and bet a thousand dollars on him getting 10 wins. How about this: he’s got a chance to lead the team in wins AND batting average. Bruce is one for one this season and he pointed out that he’d done the same thing last year. He figures hitting 1.000 for two straight years can’t be a fluke.
How do they keep this guy out of the lineup?
We also talked about his last start. He threw a cutter, a fastball, a changeup, a slider, a curveball and a sinker — in the first inning. Mix in three different arm angles (over the top, three quarters and sidearm) and that’s 18 different pitches. Bruce agreed there’s no way a young guy who’s struggling to establish even three pitches could get away with this approach. He felt he wouldn’t have been able to do it himself even a few years ago. What we’re watching is a veteran pitcher pulling every rabbit out of a very large hat. It’s pretty entertaining.