Games » Cleveland IndiansSep19
If you were looking for key moments in this game, try the 86-mph change-up Gil Meche threw to Shin-Soo Choo in the seventh inning. The Indians’ DH had been a one-man wrecking Choo…I’ll just let that sink in for a moment…all weekend. Choo had gone four for five with three home runs in game one, two for three with a hit by pitch and a walk in game two and, in this game, was already two for three with another home run before this at-bat.
Choo had hit so many bombs, mothers were sheltering small children in general admission, pitchers were drawing lots and the short straw had to face Choo, Royals fans were saying the rosary and praying for divine intervention…OK, actually he was just hitting the ball real hard almost every time he came to the plate, but that’s still pretty scary when he represented the tying run and Soria was still five outs away.
At the time of Choo’s last at-bat, the Royals were leading 6-3 and seemed in decent shape once Meche got the first two batters in the seventh. Two base hits later and Choo came to the plate with a chance to tie the game up with one swing.
Meche was staying away from the left-hander’s power and painting the outside portion of the plate. He missed outside with a 94-mph fastball, hit the corner with another 94-mph fastball that Choo fouled off, missed with an 85-mph change, got another 93-mph fastball fouled off, missed with a 77-mph curve and then got him swinging and missing with an 86-mph change-up, right on the outside corner.
Even though the Royals had six outs to go, Bryan Pena said later that at-bat was the ballgame. It made sure neither Choo nor the tying run ever came to the plate again.
Other key moments…
They say if you watch enough ballgames, sooner or later you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. How about a Yuniesky Betancourt bases-loaded walk? Don’t look at me like I’m telling you about the time I ran into Bigfoot on a camping trip…I WAS THERE, DUDE, IT HAPPENED!
It was the second inning. Kila Ka’aihue started the rally with a one-out walk, Pena and Alex Gordon followed with singles, and Yuni walked to the plate with the sacks drunk. Five pitches later, Betancourt had his 18th walk of the season and a run was in. Mitch Maier then followed with a two-run single into right that tied the game. Yuniesky motored over to third, and that’s when things got REALLY weird.
With two down and two strikes on Mike Aviles, the Indians’ pitcher, Josh Tomlin, tried to pick off Maier. He did the old first and third move that never works, and Mitch was a dead duck. Mitch was caught so far off first he would’ve needed two bus transfers to get back.
Tomlin did the right thing and ran at Maier. The idea is to force the runner to commit to a direction before making a throw. Players were running around, alarms were going off, an air raid siren was heard in the distance, a prison guard in a tower turned a spotlight on Mitch, a pack of bloodhounds were set lose…and in the middle of all that, Yuni stole home.
After the game, Ned Yost said it wasn’t a planned play, but it might be next year. So in addition to a hitting coach and a pitching coach, the Royals might be in the market for an acting coach.
A step back…
Upon reflection, which I didn’t have time for yesterday at 6 a.m., I think I was too harsh on Lucas May. I said he had four passed balls in four games (true) and he needed to turn his glove over (palm up) to prevent the latest one (maybe true).
Yesterday, Lucas talked about trying to keep the glove fingers up to get the call from the umpire (catchers are under the impression if they flip the glove over, the pitch is an automatic ball. Just like they feel if they set up over the outside corner, but have to reach back into the heart of the zone, THAT will be a ball because they had to reach). The pitch had a lot of movement down and to his left. In retrospect, Lucas thought, yeah, at some point you’ve gotta forget the call and just catch the damn thing…but all that’s happening incredibly fast.
It’s always good for people who haven’t played at this level to remember how hard the game can be. If we had the guts to try (and I don’t) most of us couldn’t stop a 95-mph fastball with a trash can lid and a butterfly net. May is still learning the position. He deserved the passed ball but doesn’t deserve any scorn…sorry, dude, my bad.
I spent a fascinating 30 minutes with the Royals’ director of groundskeeping, Trevor Vance. I told him my buddy, Tim Bogar, had played at the K when the Houston Astros were visiting and pronounced it the best dirt he’d ever stood on. Tim said he’d looked for divots from passing baserunners for three days and never found one.
Trevor said a groundskeeper’s reputation is made by his dirt, not his grass. “Seventy percent of this game is played on dirt,” and only three guys stand on the grass. Those intricate patterns mowed into the grass playing surface are for the fans, not the players. The ball can make a snaking motion as it moves across the checkerboard pattern, slightly changing direction with each bounce. The players would rather have a plain, but true surface.
OK, so how about all those groundskeeping tricks you hear about? Turns out the hitting coaches want the grass short so the ball shoots through and the pitching coaches want the grass long to keep balls on the infield. I asked Trevor who wins that argument, and he said it’s up to Dayton Moore.
Oh…and he also said to fertilize your lawn now, around Halloween and, if possible, sometime around Christmas and come springtime, you’ll have the greenest lawn in your neighborhood.
I thought that was what spray paint was for.