Games » Cleveland IndiansSep24
HEY, BOYS AND GIRLS, IT’S THE WEEKEND…LET’S DO SOME MATH! (Excited now, aren’t you?) OK, as I’ve mentioned more than once (it was in my wedding vows) 15 pitches an inning is considered average. When you’re watching baseball, keep that in mind and you’ll have a good idea of when the starter’s coming out of the game.
Ideally, the starting pitcher stays on track, throws 15 pitches an inning and gives his team at least seven innings (15 pitches x 7 innings = 105 pitches). Later, I’ll ask if a train leaves Baltimore going north at 82 miles an hour and another train leaves New York going south at 76 miles an hour, how long it will take for you to get bored. But back to our national pastime.
In the first inning of this game, Luke Hochevar threw 28 pitches. At that point, the Royals were already in trouble and here’s why: assuming Luke can straighten himself out and throw 15 pitches per inning the rest of the way, he’s now going to be just over 100 pitches after six innings, not seven.
That can mean the Royals going to the bullpen one inning earlier than planned. Assuming each reliever is going to give one inning (not always true, but generally the way Ned Yost likes to manage) the Royals now need three relievers to finish the game instead of two.
I’m guessing you spotted how quickly the numbers got scary. That’s why needing three relievers instead of two can mean a loss. That’s why Zack Greinke is throwing fewer strikeouts and trying to go deeper in the game.
They played nine innings last night, but the Royals were in trouble after one.
On the flip side
The Royals tried to ambush (swing early in the count when the pitcher is throwing fastballs to get ahead) Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin. When it works, it looks great: batter after batter ripping line drives all over the park. But when it doesn’t work, it looks awful: batter after batter making quick outs.
Because they were swinging early in the count and not getting hits, Tomlin had a lot of easy innings. Six times he got out of an inning by throwing fewer than 15 pitches. Four times he threw fewer than 10. That’s why Tomlin threw a complete game Friday night. And to make things worse, that complete game means the Indians bullpen is rested and every pitcher is available for the rest of the weekend.
When you lose a game, you at least want to force the other team to use their best relievers. If you make them work hard enough, maybe they won’t be available for the next game. That didn’t happen, and tonight and tomorrow the Royals might pay the price.
The good, the bad and the ugly
Two mental mistakes: on a play at the plate, Luke Hochevar was off to the first base side instead of behind Bryan Pena. The ball got away from Bryan and the guy who hit the ball, Travis Hafner, was able to advance to second. Pena got an error, but Luke’s job is to back up the play to prevent runners from advancing and he didn’t do it.
Gregor Blanco made another mental mistake when he caught a fly ball flat-footed. Shin-Soo Choo was on second, tagged up and advanced to third. Gregor is supposed to get behind the ball and make the catch moving forward which gives more momentum to the throw. Choo spotted Blanco’s more relaxed approach and took advantage.
On the other hand, Blanco made an outstanding catch on a dead sprint deep into centerfield, a ball I thought would drop. Brayan Pena made another outstanding play by blocking a pitch in the dirt with a runner on third.
One final thought
Billy Butler finished 0 for 3 last night, right? Well, kinda. But you shouldn’t think of it like that and neither should he. Billy actually finished 178 for 560 and a .318 average. Getting caught up in single game results can distort the true picture. A player going to the plate shouldn’t be thinking he’s got to get a hit to avoid an 0-fer. That can lead to over-anxious swings at bad pitches.
The baseball player (and fan) needs to keep the whole picture in mind. That way, the highs don’t get too high or the lows too low.
And that’s pretty good advice for anybody.