Games » Cleveland IndiansApr27
Dyson's first-inning dive
I have often said that, if you know what to look for, any baseball game is fascinating. This game tested that theory. What I’ve been doing this season is looking for an interesting moment that teaches us fans something about baseball. So I’m looking … I’m looking … I’m looking.
OK, how about Jarrod Dyson’s diving attempt to catch Orlando Cabrera’s sinking line drive in the first inning? The bases were loaded, there was one down and the score was 1-0. Jeff Francis was not getting rocked, but seeing-eye grounders were bleeding through the infield and flares were dropping in and I imagine Jarrod probably wanted to make a great play to help his pitcher.
Unfortunately, he probably buried him.
To be fair, Dyson may have gotten caught in that in-between, damned if you do, damned if you don’t territory and felt as though he had to go for it. Playing outfield is like combat: long periods of boredom punctuated by brief moments of terror … and there isn’t always time to think the whole thing through. Which is why you have to think about it beforehand.
We’ve got the luxury of time that Jarrod didn’t have, so let’s think things through. Dyson was in center field, so he would get help on either side. (If you’re in the corner, you have to play a ball between you and the line differently than a ball in the gap, knowing that if the ball rolls past you, no one is there to help.) So the ball is hit out to him and Jarrod has to quickly decide whether to run a deep route and play the ball for a single or go straight to the ball and make the catch. He went straight to the ball.
The runner on third is going back to tag, and the other runners take a lead, waiting to see if the ball is caught. If it had been caught, the runner on third is scoring no matter what. Dyson would have been on the ground after making the catch with no chance to throw out a tagging runner. The other runners would have headed back to their bases.
But here’s the key point: whether the ball was caught or not, one run was going to score. The runner on second would not have been able to score, even if Jarrod played the ball for a single, since the runner was waiting to see if there’s was a catch.
So if Dyson played the ball for a single, one run would have scored and the bases would have still been loaded. As fate (and the God’s of baseball) would have it, the next ball was a grounder to Wilson Betemit, and Austin Kearns was running so there was at least a chance for an inning-ending double play. If that had happened (and to be fair, you can’t assume the double play), the Royals would have gotten out of the first inning down two runs instead of five. New ball game.
As I keep pointing out, it’s a little unfair to decide what should have happened with time to think. BUT, the rule of thumb is be conservative on defense early, take risks late. If you can stay out of a big inning early, you have the rest of the game to get the runs back. Late in the game, you’re running out of time and have to take risks. So, Dyson’s decision would have been good if it had happened late in the game, but it was a bad decision in the first.
Jeff Francis gets nibbled to death
One of the things you want to watch for is the quality of outs (a line out is not the same as a pop out) and the quality of hits (a flare behind short is not the same a screaming line drive). By that standard, Jeff Francis didn’t pitch all that badly in the first. Sometimes it’s just not your night. If you need to find a silver lining: Jeff didn’t freak out and start walking people. That’s one of the things you look for when assessing a pitcher’s state of mind. Once they begin to avoid contact, the walks pile up and all those hits hurt even worse.
More random stuff
When I walk around the ballpark, I hear all kinds of interesting things that don’t fit with anything else, and after awhile I just dump them all together for your enjoyment:
*The worst defenders get the biggest glove contracts. Because pitchers often hold their gloves up in front of their faces while taking signs, we see their gloves for hours every time we watch them on TV.
*When a hitter takes a pitch with no intention of swinging, that’s called a ‘porn take’ because all he’s doing is watching. You’ve got to admire baseball slang. Most people try to make profane subjects sound innocent. Ballplayers figure out how to make something innocent sound obscene. (We’ve got a video on what they call getting up in the bullpen without getting in the game. The debate on whether we can use it is still going on.) … And I’ll never be able to tell you what a fastball down the middle is called. Email me if you really want to know.
Jeff Francoeur, who goes through life like a 9-year-old who just found out he’s getting a pony (an attitude I really admire) told me that a fast guy who is hitting .230 is *really struggling because they get “leg hits.” When Billy Butler hits .316, he really hit .316 because isn’t getting any cheap ones.
*A throw from Wilson Betemit pulled Alex Gordon off the bag at first, and Alex had to go to his left to make the catch and tag the runner. When he made the tag, he did it while spinning counterclockwise. First basemen have to do this to avoid wrist injuries. Otherwise the runner can bend the arm the wrong way. (And if I just saved somebody a broken wrist, you’re welcome.)
*One of the skills a great infielder requires is … wait for it … getting up quickly. So you make a diving stop, you still have to pop to your feet to make the throw. Never thought about it before, but it makes sense and also becomes reason #247 on my list of “Why I’ll never be a great Infielder”. Get up quickly? Heck. I’ve got to think about it for a minute and a half to decide whether getting up is really worth my time.
*In Tuesday’s game, Mike Aviles led off the first and went after the second pitch, fouled it off and only saw four pitches. Melky Cabrera only saw three, so when Alex Gordon came to the plate, nobody had really done the leadoff hitter’s job. The first batter of the game is supposed to see a lot of pitches so the rest of the team could get an idea of what the pitcher has that night. Alex saw eight pitches while striking out. It goes as a K in the book, but it gave the team what it needed and kept Justin Masterson from having an easy first inning. Alex did the same thing in the third inning of this game, seeing a lot of pitches after Jarrod Dyson and Melky saw a total of three. Little stuff like this adds up and gets the starter out of the game earlier.
*John Adams is the guy who pounds on the bass drum at Indian’s games, and this game was his 3,000th. When asked how he felt about this accomplishment, Mr. Adams said, “WHAT? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING? SPEAK UP!” (OK, I made that last one up.)