Games » Seattle MarinersApr15
Too cold for a complete meltdown
“Control what you can, let the rest go.” That’s from Joe Torres’ book. There’s so much you can’t control in baseball (results) that you better concentrate your efforts on what you can control (effort). That’s why managers have been raving about walks and errors since they played the first game. You should be able to control those and, in the 9th inning of this game, the Royals didn’t control walks.
Leading 6-2, Tim Collins walked the leadoff batter, always a bad idea, a worse one with a four-run lead. Tim walked the next guy also and that put the tying run on deck. Ned Yost brought in Joakim Soria. The Royals closer struck out Miguel Olivo, but not before throwing a wild pitch and moving both runners into scoring position. (By the way, Matt Treanor blocked a pitch with a runner on third four times in this game, that’s why he killed the outstanding play category.)
Then Michael Saunders singled to left. A runner scored and the runner on second moved up to third. Mitch Maier made a mistake by throwing to third instead of second (Mitch needed to keep the double play in order), but Saunders made his own mistake by not advancing to second on the throw. Timeout: A word here about being miserable: when the weather sucks (and it was cold and wet all night) your mind can focus on how lousy you feel instead of doing the pitch-to-pitch calculation of what you should be doing next. (More on the weather in a moment.)
OK, Joakim then walked Luis Rodriguez, tying run on first, then Justin Smoak, another run in, tying run on second, winning run on first, which gets us to Ichiro Suzuki. What could go wrong there?
Fortunately, Ichiro hit a bouncer to Chris Getz who made a heads-up play by getting the tougher out at second because, even though a double play was no longer an issue, going to second kept the winning run at first. Finally Chone Figgins ended everyone’s misery by hitting a bullet to Mike Aviles for the third out.
The point is not that the Mariners rallied and were one hit away from tying a game that seemed in hand at the top of the 9th, it’s that the Royals did it to themselves through walks. They didn’t control what they could control.
But as Ned Yost pointed out, it was one lousy night at the park and nobody should get too worked about pitchers who struggled to find the zone after sitting for eight innings.
That wascally wabbit
Everybody was talking about how miserable it was. Chris Getz continued to wear the compression sleeves (kind of like a tube sock with ends cut off) because when he started doing that in spring training, he got hot - but he sure didn’t stay hot. After the game he admitted the sleeves weren’t enough and he was freezing. In fact the only thing that saved him was a Royals cap with earflaps. I told him he looked like Elmer Fudd on a hunting trip (how often do you get to give a ballplayer a hard time for looking dorky?)
Now that I think about it, wouldn’t wearing the compression sleeves under a turtleneck satisfy the Baseball Gods? I’ll have to ask before the next game.
Either side of the ball, but one of them for sure
Offense is easier to measure and as a result, fans tend to focus on that part of the game. Ask a professional and he’ll tell you it doesn’t matter if a player puts runs on the board or keeps them off, either one helps you win.
If they had to choose, some professional coaches prefer defense. (Don’t get me wrong, they actually prefer both, but defense is steadier.) A good defender is a good defender every day, a good hitter still takes 0-fers. The rule of thumb is defense up the middle (catcher, short, second, center because they handle so many balls) and offense in the corners (first, third, left and right because they don’t).
OK, so if keeping runs off the board is as important as putting runs on the board, is stealing hits from the other team as important as getting hits for your own? I’d argue that it is (feel free to disagree) especially up the middle, which leads us to Alcides Escobar. He’s 13 for 55 at this point which is a .236 average.
But what if you throw in the hits he’s robbed from the other team? I’ve counted eight outstanding defensive plays so far, including one in this game. (I look for balls where you wouldn’t expect to get an out or hits where outstanding fielding keeps the runner from taking extra bases). So what if he were just an average defender but was 21 for 55? That’s a .382 average. This gives you a rough idea of what defense is worth and why baseball professionals feel the way they do. After this game Chris Getz said, “We all know why he’s out there, but casual fans may not.”
So when you look up at the scoreboard and say “Why the heck is a guy with that average in the game?” there’s a reason.
Aviles freak-out - ours, not his
I asked Mike if it was a relief to break out against Minnesota the other day and he said no, he always knew he was going to hit. It was everybody else that was worried. Then I asked him if that was because it was the beginning of the season and hot and cold streaks get magnified. He definitely agreed with that. He pointed out that he had slumps last season and nobody noticed because it was buried among all the other statistics.
The truth is players and teams are constantly in hot and cold streaks. Just because a guy hits .300 it doesn’t mean he gets three hits for every ten at-bats. He might have a week where nobody can get him out or one where he can’t buy a hit.
That’s why professionals tend to focus on effort, not results. As long as they’re having good plate appearances; hits, hard-hit outs, walks, 8+ pitch at-bats and so on, they feel like they’re doing OK.
That’s why Kevin Seitzer keeps a Quality Plate Appearance stat. It helps the Royals know who is hitting well, but not getting hits.
(Kevin shared those stats with me last season and I’ll ask for them again at the end of the month.)
It’s 1 a.m. and I’ve just discovered we haven’t added Blake Wood to the roster. He had an inning without a walk which I’ll get in as soon as possible.
I asked Jeff Francoeur before the game how often he changed gloves. Some outfielders hold on to the same one forever and they can get pretty floppy. Jeff had a couple of balls come out of his glove and I wondered if that was an issue. Frenchy said no, he changes gloves about halfway through each season. Most pros have a gamer, one they’re breaking in and their old gamer available in case of emergency. Jeff said one ball came out because he hit the wall and the other one was a shoestring catch that he didn’t get cleanly in the pocket. Both were scored hits.
OK, time to hit the rack, got to get up early and do another game. I love baseball, but sometimes it’s like trying to take a sip of water out of a fire hose: too much, too soon.