Games » Detroit TigersSep21
Full-time pitcher and part-time magician Bruce Chen has now won 11 games. How, I don’t know. Bruce threw two pitches at 88 miles an hour and every other pitch slower. There are currently motorists on I-35 going faster. It proves that good pitching isn’t just velocity. It’s also movement, location, smarts and guts. The two home run pitches Chen threw weren’t that bad, and since Bruce only walked one in six innings, he limited the damage.
Bruce did hit Ryan Rayburn, but I don’t think that should count. C’mon, if you get hit by a Bruce Chen pitch, how hard did you try to get out of the way?
Both sides of the ball…
Obsessing about offensive numbers may be fine in a fantasy league, but in the real world, defense matters. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this out loud, but the Royals aren’t a good defensive team. Last time I checked, the Royals led the league in errors and had the worst fielding percentage. If winning teams are built on pitching and defense, the Royals have a problem.
In the ninth inning of this game, leading 9-3, Ned Yost brought in Greg Holland to mop up. Holland got the first out, but then gave up four straight hits. One was a grounder just to Wilson Betemit’s left, another was a grounder just to Billy Butler’s right.
I’m not saying those balls should have been caught — I don’t know that. But considering Butler and Betemit’s range, I’m saying those balls probably could have been caught by better fielders. Later in the ninth inning, Tigers catcher Gerald Laird once again took advantage of Betemit’s lack of range by pushing a base-hit bunt toward third. One out later, Betemit made an error. That’s four extra chances for the Tigers in the ninth inning alone.
This summer I’ve heard a lot of people talk about players who are good on only one side of the ball: they can field, but can’t hit or hit, but can’t field. If the Royals are going to improve their winning percentage next season, they have to improve their defense. This team hits. Improve the pitching and defense and they can shove some of those one-run losses into the win column.
Detroit’s second baseman, Will Rhymes, has a twin brother. According to Frank White (or maybe it was Ryan Lefebvre), the brother played ball at William & Mary and is in town, visiting Will. It’s the end of the season, the games don’t matter…do you think there’s ANY chance they’ve talked about the brother showing up as Will and getting a major-league at-bat? If we see a funky Rhymes swing, we may know why.
Some days the three-run home run stays home, but speed comes to the park every day. That’s why I like players who can run (and maybe it’s because I can’t). Jarrod Dyson is busy showing fans how speed changes the game. He turned a bloop over short into a double, a sacrifice bunt into a two-base error when the pitcher rushed the throw, stole a base and scored easily from second on a Mike Aviles single.
I’m pretty sure Dyson’s not a career .444 hitter and it doesn’t pay to get too worked up about a player until he’s shown the ability to be consistent, but the Royals could use more of this speed next season. Ten singles a game will look like plenty.
Another quality start…
Chen put up another quality start in this game. The quality start statistic (three earned runs or less in six or more innings) is often ridiculed: After all, that’s a 4.50 ERA (nothing to write home about unless mom doesn’t know much about baseball). Pitching coach Bob McClure talked about the stat and while he thought it was less than perfect, pointed out that, as long as your defense hadn’t let you down, you should be going into the seventh inning down 3-0, 3-1, 3-2, tied or ahead.
In other words, the starting pitcher gave his team a chance to win. I think the problem with the stat is the title: if it were called the “Fair-to-middlin’ Start,” nobody would complain.
Yuniesky Betancourt’s mental mistake was trying to stretch a single into a double with nobody out. With none down, the runner is supposed to be cautious, only advancing when the odds of success are high. And Yuni was thrown out by so much you could’ve timed it with a sundial.
Stuff you can watch…
*When you’re watching a game, pay less attention to the score (say 5-2) than the spread (three runs). There are two runs you should track at all times: the tying run and the winning run. In a two-run game, the tying run is on deck. The guy at the plate can’t hurt the pitcher. The batter can hit a ball to hell and gone and the pitcher is still up by one.
Walking a batter to bring the tying or winning run to the plate is a cardinal sin. When that happens, you’ll see coaches and managers considering whether to just chew the pitcher out or go to the mound and strangle him.
That’s why tack-on runs are so important: They push the tying and winning runs away from the plate, off the on-deck circle and back into the dugout. The Royals had a two-run lead after six innings, but the four runs they added in the eighth and ninth provided the margin of victory.
*Alex Gordon caught a fly ball at shoulder level. This is a bad habit that can burn a fielder. If you catch the ball with the glove higher, both ball and glove are in your range of vision. Field the ball low and you only see the ball and your head will have to move to do that. There are so many things you can’t control in the game, but this is one you can control and ought to.
*When a ball goes up, watch the fielder, not the ball. The fielder’s reaction will tell you whether you’re about to see a great play or it’s a good time to order another beer…(OK, who am I kidding? It’s ALWAYS a good time to order another beer.)
Odd that I’ve been told I’m a bad influence, isn’t it?
If you’re following this Web site daily (and you should, my kids need to eat), be aware that the game may be posted a little late tomorrow. I’ve got a doubleheader of my own tonight (if it doesn’t get rained out), so I’ll have to record the game and watch it in the morning.
Unfortunately for me, I’m far too shrewd a manager to actually let myself play.