Games » Texas Rangers
Lee Judge talks style with Royals Mike Aviles
Kansas City Royals infielder Mike Aviles explains to the Star's Lee Judge how to look good in uniform on the field. May 17, 2011 (Video by John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)
Back-to-back pickoffs (or balks)
OK, let’s get to it… how the heck did two Royals get picked off back to back in the 9th inning? Most likely, because Neftali Feliz was balking. OK, let’s set the scene: Eric Hosmer had just hit a stinking rocket into the seat in right field to tie the game (more on this shortly). Jeff Francoeur walked and Jarrod Dyson came out to pinch run…and got picked off.
I didn’t see the replay, but Ned Yost said it looked like Feliz was balking. Mike Aviles said Feliz was definitely balking. Feliz apparently has a ‘balk move’ and here’s how it works (I know because I managed a pitcher who made it to AA with the Orioles and he had a balk move):
With a right-handed pitcher on the mound base runners focus on the pitcher’s heels. If the front one comes up, the pitcher must go home. If the back heel comes up, the pitcher is stepping off the rubber and preparing to come over to first.
A right-handed balk move consists of slightly breaking the front knee, which slightly lifts the front heel, which gives the runner the wrong signal. The pitcher has to practice this in order to incorporate the move into one smooth motion which allows him to balk and come over to first without stopping.
When two runners got picked back-to-back I didn’t assume they were idiots. I figured something goofy was happening (like they had a read on Feliz that wasn’t turning out to be accurate). If Feliz was balking and getting away with it, the fault doesn’t lie with Jarrod Dyson and Mike Aviles, but first base umpire Mike Muchlinski.
The KC walk-a-thon
The Royals pitchers defeated the Royals hitters 5-4 in 11 innings last night. 13 walks will generally get you beat and this game did nothing to disprove the theory. Four of the walks scored, and there’s your ball game.
Danny Duffy: Great stuff, but walked six and one scored. The walks were the obvious problem, but the less obvious problem was his delivery time to the plate. A good base stealer can motor when the pitcher takes 1.3 seconds to get the ball to the plate. Duffy was taking 1.6 and 1.7 at times. People who don’t steal were stealing (here’s looking at you, Mike Napoli). Heck, people who don’t walk particularly well were stealing, and that played a part in the run Duffy gave up in the 4th. Craig Gentry walked, stole second, then third and scored on a wild pitch. That’s pretty much giving a run away.
Duffy also worked way too hard. Threw too many pitches, couldn’t control his pitch count and had to leave the game after four innings. There’s a lot to like here, but this was far from a polished performance.
- I was once told if you want to know what players come through in the clutch, look for hits off closers.
There are players well-known for hitting three-run home runs when their team is down by four. (I always thought the metrics guys made a mistake when they tied to find ‘clutch players’. A clutch player is a guy who gives you the same at-bat in the World Series that he gave you in spring training. The numbers guys should’ve looked for chokers: players who perform worse under pressure. I know they exist, because I was one.)
Anyway, Eric Hosmer hit an 0-0 shot into the right field bleachers to tie the game up in the 9th. The Rangers had their closer on the mound and Hos’ took him deep in a pressure situation…very impressive.
- Matt Treanor had his first passed ball of the season and he said it was because he got in too big a hurry. The runners were taking off and he tried to be too quick and didn’t glove the ball. He also took some blame for Duffy’s wild pitch.
His block looked textbook to me, but Matt said the mitt had too much angle in it. If the glove is at, let’s say a 45-degree angle and the ball hits it, the ball will come up. If the glove is at 90 degrees, the ball will stay out in front of the catcher. Matt said the ball coming up and getting away from him could’ve been prevented if he’d had more angle in his wrist.
Give some credit to the Rangers defense. They made great plays all over the park. Some of those outs were spectacular glove work by Texas.
I’ll admit it: I’m prejudiced in favor of players like Chris Getz. I managed 500 games with college-level players and I loved having someone versatile on the team. Some guys can only hit…and if they aren’t hitting, they aren’t helping.
Chris does a lot of little things well: you can have him bunt, hit and run, steal, move the runner, hit away and he plays solid defense. In the second inning he had a 10-pitch at-bat, fouling off marginal pitches until he got something to handle and took it the opposite way, driving in the Royals first run. Getz is the kind of player that you need to watch closely in order to appreciate what he’s bringing to the table.
- Despite Kevin Seitzer’s opinion that I should mix in some hitting lessons with all the tokens I buy at his facility (I listed him as a dependent on my income tax form), I went out to Martin City and hit again Wednesday. Once Kevin sees the changes that I’ve made in my swing, I think he’ll be very impressed: I’ll be screwed up in an entirely new way!