Games » Los Angeles AngelsApr3
OK, how the hell do I sum up that game? Thirteen innings, 14 different pitchers, a wild pitch, two balks, two hit batters, 461 pitches (that’s right, 461), 33 hits, 14 walks, 21 runs, 18 strikeouts, 9 doubles, 8 home runs, 122 batters faced, 6 stolen bases and the whole thing was finished off by a three-run home run hit by a guy who was taking the day off and giving a TV interview during the game. (I told Matt Treanor his timing was bad…if he’d done this a couple of weeks ago, he could’ve been elected mayor.)
I don’t know how long they’ll keep it up, but the Royals are playing fabulously entertaining baseball. Get yourself out to the park.
Random notes because there’s just too much to talk about…
I wrote a piece for Opening Day called “How to watch a baseball game” (which I need to post on this website and will shortly). I talked to some professional players about what they paid attention to and Russ Morman, AAA San Francisco Giant hitting coach, buddy and general pain in the neck, said the first thing he does is check the flags.
I walked out on the field before this game and the flags in left were blowing straight to center and the flags in right were also blowing straight to center. I asked Mitch Maier what the wind pattern was in Kauffman Stadium and he said he’s been trying to figure that out for three years (the new building in the outfield affects the flight of the ball).
The key thing in this game is that the wind was howling and that generally means a high-scoring game. This contest did nothing to disprove that theory. Paul Splittorff said it was an absolutely brutal day to pitch and thought the Royals outfielders should be playing deeper…somewhere in GA, apparently.
The Royals walked 10 times. In the ninth inning, down by two, the Royals worked three walks off Angels pitcher, Fernando Rodney. With one down Wilson Betemit walked to the plate and smoked the first pitch. After the game, Ned Yost was asked what he thought of Wilson hacking at the first pitch after witnessing three walks. His answer was, “What did he do with it?”
Betemit smoked a double and tied the game up. There is certainly a time for patience, but there’s also a time to “turn on the fan” (I hope you guys appreciate all the great baseball slang I drag back to this website). Once the table is set, it’s time to eat (that’s another one). Translation: the tying run is in scoring position, you’ve got a pitcher struggling to throw strikes so he’s likely to toss a hittable fastball up there to get ahead and you’ve got the hitter you want at the plate. At that point you don’t really want Betemit working another walk and leaving tying the game up to on-deck hitter, Alcides Escobar. Let the big dog eat. (I’m getting paid by the cliché.)
Another decision by Betemit wasn’t so hot: with the bases loaded and Wilson on second, Matt Treanor hit a grounder to third and Wilson held up for a moment, watching the play at the plate. Let me reiterate … THE BASES WERE LOADED! Gotta run on a grounder, even in the big leagues. Wilson didn’t right away and was almost thrown out at third. That’s his mental mistake in this game. (And apparently I missed another one in Saturday’s game when he moved to the middle of the infield to be the cutoff man when he should’ve been covering third. Frank White caught that one and I tend to trust Frank on fielding issues. I’ll add the mental mistake as soon as I’m sure goofing around in our admin system won’t accidentally set off any ICBMs.)
Jeff Francoeur also got a mental mistake for missing a “verbal” at third. If you saw Alcides Escobar square to bunt and then pull it back (I think it was the 9th) that’s because the play was supposed to be a suicide squeeze. Escobar looked bad, but it was actually a great play on his part to realize Frenchy wasn’t coming and get the bat out of the way.
On the plus side, Francoeur gets points for an outstanding defensive play for the route he ran in the 7th, holding Torii Hunter to a single and probably saving a run. (When you hear about a great route it means the outfielder ran hard to a spot behind the ball and was able to field it coming forward, cutting down extra bases.)
Before the game, first-base coach Doug Sisson and I spent some together and he talked about the Royals new attitude on running the bases. They’re going to be more aggressive. They know they don’t have a lot of power and they’re going to try to get more out of all those singles they hit.
There were plenty of examples in this game: 6 steals, Chris Getz advanced from second to third on a ball to the third baseman (he waited for the throw and then took off…a play he said they’d been working on in spring training) and Wilson Betemit tried to advance to third on wild pitch, but was thrown out…which is instructive.
Sisson said to get the benefit of all those extra bases from aggressive base running, you have to accept that once in a while you’re going to get someone thrown out. In fact, he agreed that if you’re never getting runners thrown out, you’re probably not being aggressive enough. As he put it, “I’d rather be 100 for 120 going first to third than 15 for 16.”
As fans, we want the team to be perfect. We wait for the results and then boo or cheer accordingly. A stupid move that works will get cheered and an intelligent move that fails will get booed. Unfortunately for the players and coaches, they have to make decisions BEFORE they know the results so they have to make the moves on odds. This move has a 70% chance of working; the alternative has a 45% chance of working…we’ll take the 70% bet.
Betemit’s dash for third came with one out (the right time because if he gets there the Royals can score without a hit), he was the winning run (down by six it’s dumb, tied, his run is worth something) and, according to the replay, he might’ve been safe. I’m guessing Doug was just fine with Wilson’s gamble…but I’ll ask next chance I get.
The Royals are going to live with the guys that get thrown out because of all the guys that will be safe…and so should the fans.
I lose another argument…
Yesterday I gave a hard time to the TV guys for doing the postgame interview with Aaron Crow (who got his first win) instead of Chris Getz (who had a monster day). Before Sunday’s game, announcer Joel Goldberg pointed out he had interviewed both Crow and Matt Treanor and they combined for more points in our system than Chris Getz totaled.
Hoisted on my own petard again (I have no idea what that means, but I know it’s bad). OK, Joel, you win this one, but it’s nice to know you’re looking at the website.