Games » New York YankeesMay11
A really long game
This game lasted four hours and 31 minutes, which is amazing. It seemed like four hours 30 minutes, tops. There were more than 400 pitches thrown, 12 different pitchers used, 19 walks issued, two batters were hit, and I’m pretty sure a season changed during this game. (Hey, it was summer when it started and appeared to be fall by the time it ended.)
I’m not going to even attempt to sum this one up in some grand statement that probably would be inaccurate, I’ll just give you the notes I took during the game:
*If the Yankees are going to take pitches, you have to make them pay by throwing strikes early. Vin Mazzaro didn’t. He fell behind in counts and let the Yankees get him out of the game after four innings. If you pound the zone, they’ll start swinging the bats, but if you nibble, you’re falling right into their game plan.
*The importance of getting the starting pitcher out of the game was illustrated by A.J. Burnett’s performance: Seven innings, one hit, one run (Eric Hosmer’s first big-league bomb and some idiot threw it back on the field. If Hosmer turns out to be a star, any idea what his first home-run ball would be worth?) Once Burnett was gone, the Royals scored three runs in the next four innings.
*In an earlier post, I said Brayan Pena’s throws to second base tail into the runner. It happened a couple more times in this game. The middle infielder needs to come out in front of the bag and be ready to go to his left, catch the ball and apply the tag.
*Walks and errors are worse with nobody out. They’re never good, but with none out, the offense can use outs to move the runner around the bases. The Yankees scored in the 10th inning when Joakim Soria issued a leadoff walk, and the Royals scored in the 11th inning when Chris Getz worked a leadoff walk. Both teams used two outs to get the runs across the plate (sacrifice bunts, a groundout and a sacrifice fly, to be precise). Issue the same walks with one out, and neither team scores.
*When someone makes an error on a routine ball, watch his head on the replay. Ninety-nine times out of 100, it will move too soon. A.J. Burnett was looking at first base when he failed to pick up Alcides Escobar’s roller, and Chris Getz dropped a double-play ball when he looked to first base too soon.
*I don’t know whether it was intentional, but you saw a lot of pitches thrown at batters’ feet. Jason Kendall told me moving a batter’s feet is much more effective than throwing up and in. Assuming it’s not at his head (as Robinson Cano can testify), the hitter can just lean away from the pitch, and if he knows how to protect himself, do an inward turn if he thinks it’s too close. Having someone throw at your feet is different. It’s hard to protect the bones close to the surface. (Getting hit on the shin hurts a lot more than getting hit in … oh, let’s say the left kidney.) It also affects the hitter’s power base. If you’re thinking you might have to dance out of the way of a 95 mph fastball at your ankle bone, you might not take such a great swing.
*After hitting a shot into the upper deck, Eric Hosmer worked himself into a 3-0 count in his next at-bat. Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White discussed whether Hosmer would have the green light in that situation, but he didn’t appear to be thinking about swinging and took a strike to go 3-1 and eventually walked. Green lights on 3-0 counts are generally used for power hitters who are in scoring position when they stand at the plate and singles hitters when someone else is in scoring position. The hitter needs to be hot and have a good sense of what he can handle.
*Several times pitchers went from a 2-2 count to a 3-2 count with runners on and two outs. This is a mistake. At 2-2, the runners have to hold, and at 3-2, they get a jump. Pitchers need to force the action on the 2-2 count.
*The Royals scored a go-ahead run in the 10th inning. Cabrera walked, Hosmer hit into a fielder’s choice and Maier struck out, but Hosmer moved up to second on a wild pitch and then scored on Francoeur’s double. The play that’s easy to overlook in the inning is Melky getting down to second and forcing the middle infielder to move laterally to avoid a takeout slide. That allowed Hosmer to be safe by a step and eventually score the run.
OK, enough. It’s late, and once again I’m short on sleep. When the team is here, I put in 18 hour days on a regular basis. When they’re on the road, I try to catch up on sleep. The last four times I’ve tried to take a nap, 1.) My son called from college to talk about being overdrawn at the bank 2.) My other son started playing drums because he didn’t realize I had come home and crawled into bed 3.) I had to get up and go to work because the website didn’t want to talk to my laptop and 4.) a phone repairman decided to stop by without calling to fix a problem we complained about weeks ago.
And tonight I was thinking a 6:05 start would allow me a good night’s sleep.
It’s really starting to feel like a plot.
Here’s one last note from a couple days ago.
One more reason to like this team
If you go down the dugout steps in Kauffman Stadium and take two strides forward, you will be at the Royals indoor hitting facility. (You saw it on the hit-by-pitch video.) It’s also the video room. Hitters can take an at-bat, then go into the video room and watch it … if Ned Yost hadn’t ordered that the door be locked during games. Ned didn’t want people obsessing about their performances and thought it was a good idea for them to stay on the bench and root for their teammates.
Most video rooms are open during games, but the Royals want the players to put the team first and themselves second … and frankly, last-second adjustments aren’t that helpful. (Listen up all you parents that like to give advice to their kids in the on-deck circle.) Hitting is like taking a final: You either did the work to prepare, or you didn’t. Studying the book as you walk into class isn’t much of a game plan for success.