Games » Cleveland IndiansMay17
Well, it was better than the night before
OK, by now you know the Royals lost this one 7-3. I don’t have a lot to add, except staying above .500 is kind of a big deal, which makes this kind of a big week. The starting pitching was the big question mark going into the season and not much has changed.
Now for some of those moments you might’ve missed if you weren’t paying attention:
*In the fourth inning with a runner headed home, Eric Hosmer moved to his correct cutoff position when a throw is coming in from center field: between the mound and second. The first baseman has to stay on the outfield side of the mound to prevent the ball from hitting it and deflecting off at some crazy angle.
Hos reached up and faked cutting the ball which froze Matt LaPorta at second base. This is worth noting because it didn’t always happen in the past. First basemen were sometimes late to their spots which allowed trail runners to move up, knowing the ball couldn’t be cut.
In the very next inning Eric did the same thing and this time did cut the ball and nailed trail runner Travis Buck, who was trying to move into second on the throw home. Hosmer’s defensive diligence didn’t change the outcome of this game, but some day it will change the outcome of some other game.
*I’ve reported that the Royals are trying to be very aggressive on the bases and that someday it would backfire and everyone (fans included) would have to suck it up and realize it’s the cost of doing business. This might’ve been the day: Hosmer got thrown out trying to steal and Matt Treanor got picked off second. Matt’s got catcher’s speed (sorry, Matt, but you do) and was trying to get a good secondary lead so he could score if there were a two-out base hit. He got a little too aggressive and got picked. Ned Yost defended both moves saying the Royals need to play this kind of baseball in Kauffman Stadium because waiting for the long ball is also going to be a long wait in this long park.
*Kevin Seitzer gave me his inside hitting stats at the end of April and his quality-plate-appearance stats indicated Treanor was having good at-bats, but not getting hits. Now the hits are starting to come. That’s one of the reasons you keep those numbers: so you know who to stick with when they’re scuffling.
*After Hosmer got thrown out trying to steal second in the sixth inning, I asked him if he had considered using a ‘swim move’. That’s when the runner goes in head first, reaches in with his left arm and then pulls it back to avoid the tag. Meanwhile he uses his right arm to reach around and tag the back of the base (it kinda looks like you’re swimming). Eric said he uses that move when he’s sure he’s going to be out to avoid a tag, but in this instance, thought he could beat the throw…and replays show he probably did.
*A simple thing to watch that tells you something about a pitcher: what does he do immediately after giving up a home run? Everett Teaford gave up his first bomb and then got a little shy with the zone, missing away consistently and walking the next batter. To his credit, he got back in the zone after that and the Royals got out of the seventh without further damage.
The not-so-great wall
Mitch Maier had to play a ball off the wall Monday night and even though appeared to be in the right position, the ball kicked sideways and he had to chase it. Why? The chain link covering the field level scoreboards. Mitch said he can get a fairly true hop off the pads, but a ball that hits the chain link screen can go any direction.
And those lit-up scoreboards can make it hard for people on the infield to see what’s happening once a player is up against them. A visiting third base coach once told me he lost track of a throw coming in from right and some umpires have complained about the same thing. I was told they turned down the intensity, but up in the press box (maybe it’s the angle…it couldn’t be my age, could it?) it’s hard to rack the ball against what amounts to a Vegas Strip neon sign.
The unseen game
Mitch also told me that from the fifth inning on the bench players are starting to move around, stretch, swing the bat and throw, but it’s all happening inside the indoor batting cage. Never thought about it (duh!), but a substitute can’t exactly stop the game and ask for a few minutes to stretch. I don’t think we’d want to watch Jarrod Dyson do 5 minutes of jumping jacks before he came out to steal a base…but I bet he’d do them fast.
First things first
After the Royals warm-up and stretch the first thing they do is have a meeting at the batting cage and then go through some base running drills. Monday they practiced getting down the line and hitting first, then turning the corner and heading for second.
The team decided to put the base running drills up front in the practice schedule to emphasize how serious they were about this phase of the game. Doug Sisson said most teams do it last and all too often players see it as ‘conditioning’ and go through the motions.
Whatever they’re doing it seems to be working…most of the time.
And he’s funny, too
My 21-year-old son came with me to the ballpark the last couple days to figure out how to run the website if and when I take a day off (it’s going to happen sooner or later). We were talking with Eric Hosmer and I noted that he and my son were the same age.
I pointed out that Eric had already provided for his parents in their old age and my son was still bumming meals off me. Hos modestly said, “I just got lucky.”
“You mean you won the genetic role of the dice?”
At that point Hosmer pointed out that if my son was not a star athlete it was clearly my fault: bad genetics. I’m rarely stunned into silence, even temporarily, but the conversation had taken a sudden turn for the worse.
Hos got a big grin, looked at my son, pounded his chest with his fist and said, “Youth…gotta stick together.”
Dude, you’re going to be talented, rich and funny? You’re killing me.