Games » Tampa Bay RaysSep30
The Royals have an advantage (now THERE’S a sentence you don’t often hear). His name is Joakim Soria. A great closer (and last night Joakim nailed down his 43rd save) means they have nine innings to score runs (unless the other team has a great closer) and their opponents have eight. If Soria is looming, you’ll often see other teams pull out the stops to score in the seventh and eighth knowing if they’re not ahead (or at least tied) by the ninth, they never will be. So the real action in a Royals game (as I’ve said before) is often before Soria runs in from the bullpen.
Knowing that, Robinson Tejeda’s appearance between two of the best pitchers in the American League took on special interest. Zack Greinke had done his job: seven innings, two runs and a one-run lead handed to Robbie.
Tejeda got the first guy, John Jaso, then gave up a double to Ben Zobrist, then gave up a line drive to Carl Crawford which was caught, but allowed Jaso to advance to third, and the game down to Dan Johnson’s at-bat.
With a runner on third Tejeda couldn’t afford to throw one in the dirt and he didn’t want to walk Johnson and put the winning run on base. Tejeda threw two fastballs up and fell behind 2-0. That put Johnson in a fastball count, except Brayan Pena and Robinson Tejeda threw him a change-up, which looked pretty much right down the middle. The change in velocity locked up Johnson and the count went to 2-1. Three more fastballs, one fouled back, and the count was 3-2.
The next pitch might decide the ballgame.
Another change (gutsy call), Johnson flailed at it and missed. Cue “Welcome to the Jungle” and shake hands, because with Soria coming out for the 9th, the game was pretty much over.
Going for the K…
After the game Zack Greinke told me he’s gone back to trying to strike people out. That plan worked nine times in this game. That’s three innings with no pressure on the defense and this defense could use no pressure.
Zack said most of the season he’d been trying to get ground balls. Pitching to contact (letting the other guy hit it) put less stress on him physically and allowed him to go deeper into games. On the other hand, someone’s got to catch those groundballs and the Royals defense has made the most errors in the league. (I said that, he wouldn’t … the guy’s trying to be a good teammate.) As I’ve said before: this is a dilemma.
Does Greinke strike people out and turn the ball over to the bullpen sooner? Or pitch to contact and turn the ball over to his defense?
He’s finished in 2010 and couldn’t say what approach he’d use in 2011. It might depend on who his teammates are. I’ll say this: The guy isn’t just up there chucking it. He’s smart, articulate (which he doesn’t always show on camera) and he’s given this some thought.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.
Think like a pro…
Jarrod Dyson made two long running catches that most outfielders wouldn’t. In his postgame press conference, Ned Yost said those catches saved two runs and that was the same as driving in two runs.
Fans get caught up in offense (I believe that’s been a running theme on this website), but in the real world, defense counts. I’ve come to think fantasy leagues play a part in this: Unless there’s a league based on blocked pitches and double plays turned, the people in those leagues will obsess about offensive numbers.
I was listening to a radio talk show after the game and a fan called in to say Dyson couldn’t be a major league starter because he doesn’t hit enough home runs. One more time: SO WHAT? He can put the runs on the board or keep them off the board, both methods work.
It’s true that someone on his team will have to hit (hence the old formula of offense in the corners and defense up the middle), but as long as he can cover an area the size of Montana in center field and consistently keep runs off the board with his glove, he’s doing his job.
Just ask Ned Yost.
P.S. Dyson also forgot how many outs there were and got dinged for a mental mistake. He was headed in the wrong direction, but at least he was going there fast.
The perils of perfection…
Mitch Maier said his low stolen base total (dude, two steals means you’re tied with Brayan Pena) is due to him, not Ned Yost. Apparently he’s had the “green light” (you can steal if you like your lead and jump) and hasn’t gone because he’s second-guessing himself.
“Perfect is the enemy of good.”
That’s an old baseball saying that we all ought to have tattooed somewhere (along with our wedding anniversary and kid’s birthdays…when you’ve got to memorize George Brett’s lifetime batting average, who can remember all that other stuff?)
Anyway, what it means is, if you try to be perfect you won’t be good. Mitch doesn’t want to get thrown out ever (perfect), which means he isn’t the base stealer he could be (good).
The first time I began to get my mind around managing baseball (that trip’s not complete and never will be) was when Clint Hurdle explained that I was trying to be perfect. Every move had to work and since they often don’t, I would freeze, afraid to make a move that failed. After the proper amount of ridicule (all baseball instruction seems to come with some) he pointed out my job was not being perfect, it was looking at the options and selecting the one with the highest chance of success. That was a much easier job.
Mitch needs to steal bases, not because he’ll be safe every time, but because there are times it’s the best option with the highest chance of success available…and if he doesn’t, Brayan Pena’s going to pass him.
Imagine the ridicule he’ll get for that.