Games » Cleveland IndiansApr19
How Bruce Chen does it
“Not everything that’s important can be measured, not everything that can be measured is important.” Either Albert Einstein said that or Albert Einstein should have said that. One way or another, it brings us to Bruce Chen. I’ve had fun talking about Bruce winning ball games when he’s out there with nuthin’, but I’ve decided that’s both unfair and incorrect.
Bruce brings a lot to the mound, but high velocity isn’t on the list. And baseball fans do obsess about velocity, mainly because we can measure it and understand it…sort of. Pitchers can give the ball three qualities: location, movement and velocity. Chen has location and movement, but how about velocity?
Well, velocity doesn’t just mean throwing hard, it can also mean throwing soft. Changing speeds, adding and subtracting, make timing a pitch difficult. Hitters have a comfort zone that depends on their bat speed and fans tend to think of velocity as getting above that comfort zone. But pitchers can also get below that comfort zone and that’s part of what Bruce does. He makes the hitter slow down and slow down and slow down and then blows a mid-eighties fastball past them. A pitch that would’ve gotten crushed if he’d thrown it before slowing down a hitter’s bat speed.
I watched part of the game with Jeff Montgomery and he noted that Chen rarely throws the same pitch twice in a row, changing arm angles, location and velocity. It might be impressive to see someone throw 100-mph straight as a string, but that’s throwing.
And Bruce Chen is a pitcher.
May I assist you?
Alex Gordon threw another runner out trying to score (great play by Brayan Pena to hold onto the ball at the plate). So if the Royals outfielders throw that well, how come people keep running on them? I recently wrote that someone with 0 assists might throw better than someone with 10 because nobody runs on the first guy’s arm. So when I found out that Jeff Francoeur leads all active players in outfield assists I asked him why.
“Hey, if your arm’s so good, what’s up with all the assists?”
Fortunately, Frenchy thought that was funny and said there were times people were going to run on you no matter who you are, like with two outs and a chance to score a run, and he’d been able to take advantage of the situation. (Just like Alex did in this game.)
Side note: Brayan Pena blocked a pitch in the dirt with a runner on third. The Royals won by one run. No block, no win, at least not in nine. I try to pay attention to the little stuff that wins games.
Blocked pitches with a runner on third so far this season: Matt Treanor 14, Brayan Pena 7. That’s a bunch of runs.
A tale of two double plays
Chris Getz was the pivot man on a big double play in this game. Second basemen have to be gutty on the DP. Unlike the shortstop, second basemen can’t see the runner coming at them. They know he’s coming, but aren’t sure where he is. This runner was Michael Brantley and Chris said he knew Brantley was fast and had a good chance of dumping him. (Frank White once told me he also kept track of who wore spikes and who wore rubber cleats…Frank doesn’t try to catch foul balls and keeps the window closed on cold nights…Frank’s pretty smart.)
Anyway, Getz stepped into the runner and got taken out while successfully making the throw. Getzie was walking around after the game with an ice pack from knee to ankle on his left leg. Mike Aviles tried to turn a double play the night before without stepping into the runner and couldn’t get enough on the throw.
Getz getting knocked for a loop while hanging in on a tough play, then getting up and banging out a triple in his next at-bat sends a message, to the other team and his teammates.
Speaking of tough guys
Jason Kendall leads all active players in getting hit by pitches (well, he will once he gets active). We talked about why: All hitters handle the middle third of the plate pretty well, Jason dives to cover the outside third and that leaves the pitcher the inner third. If they want to come in off the plate to move Kendall off the outside corner, he refuses to budge and uses the rolling the shoulder move we talked about yesterday to protect himself … that and an elbow pad.
I said yesterday that losing a poorly played game on Monday night wasn’t as important as how the Royals reacted in the next game and they reacted great. It got a little rough at the end, but the team didn’t fold and battled through the final three innings.
Here’s a saying suitable for a tattoo, “Being a winner means getting up one more time than you were knocked down.”
And Kendall, if you decide have that tattooed somewhere, you owe me royalties.