Games » St. Louis CardinalsMay20
A turning point
When you’re around the people who have been around the game, you hear one message a lot: not so fast. Don’t be too quick to build someone up ( a radio guy called Eric Hosmer a superstar after two games, which is crazy; we all know it takes at least three) and don’t be too quick to tear someone down (Alex Gordon took a couple years to figure things out).
Star reporter Bob Dutton warned me that the 2011 Royals might not be as bad as everyone was thinking and then warned me that assuming they’re a playoff team might be premature. Having said all that, I realized the other night that the Royals have turned at least some kind of corner. I no longer wonder how they’re going to lose a game, I now wonder how they’re going to win it.
And the way you win a game like this is good pitching. Ned Yost said an interesting thing after this win: the way you beat good pitching is with good pitching. If a guy’s dealing, there might not be that much you can do about it offensively. You need your own pitcher to throw well to keep you in the game while you wait for the other guy to make a mistake or tire.
And that’s what Jeff Francis did. He gave up no runs in 7 2/3, he walked two, one intentionally and he threw four innings using 11 pitches or less. When Chris Carpenter finally faltered, Francis made sure the Royals were close enough to make it count.
Joakim Soria has had a few hiccups lately and when he came in the 9th for the save and went 2-0, the crowd got restless. If it soothes your mind, according to the MLB.com strike zone, he was getting squeezed.
Alex Gordon almost made a great catch in the same inning, climbing the wall in left for a foul ball. Alex told me he’d been waiting to do that all year and then, as Alex said, he got “Bartmaned.” A kid actually stuck his glove into Gordon’s glove and stole the ball from Alex. The kid was oblivious to what he did and was promptly congratulated by a Cardinal fan, who yelled at Gordon and told Alex he wasn’t going to make the catch anyway. Soria still got the save, so Alex thought the whole thing was pretty funny.
Eric Hosmer got doubled off first on a flare to right. When a base runner can’t tell if the ball will be caught, it’s better to have the ball drop and be forced than go too far and make two outs, which Eric admitted after the game.
The second base-running mistake didn’t hurt anything, but it was still the wrong move. Butler was on first and Betemit hit a ball in the left center gap. Billy stopped halfway and waited to see if the catch would be made. On a ball like that, the runner can go all the way to, or past, the bag. If the ball is caught by a fielder going deep and sideways, the runner has plenty of time to get back to first. If the ball is down a fast runner might score.
The magic word
Jeff Francoeur has only been thrown out of two games in his life and the umpire that did the throwing, Angel Hernandez, was at first base last night. I found out what Jeff said to get run both times: one was a pretty run-of-the-mill profanity, but the other one was incredibly inventive. I literally had never heard those two words used together before. (And no, if you email me I won’t tell you what they were. But give Frenchy credit for being creative.) Anyway, apparently the real “magic word” is “you.” A player can say, “that call was @#$%&*!”, but can’t say, “you are @#$%&!”
Good to know. I wonder if it works that way with editors.
Why Hosmer didn’t steal against the Rangers
Thursday night’s game, first and third, infield in, a hit wins it. The Rangers weren’t holding Hosmer, so why not steal second and eliminate the double play? I asked Eric and he said because the infield was in there was no chance for them to turn two. The contact play was on and any throw was going home. So the Royals did not want to line into a double play. They didn’t want Francoeur taking a pitch to let Eric steal (if he got what he wanted, they wanted Jeff swinging) so Hosmer stayed where he was.
Did Aviles celebrate too soon?
When Mike Aviles tied the game up in the 9th with a base hit in the same game, did he start to celebrate too soon? “Absolutely” was Mike’s answer when asked. He said there are two shortstops in the American League who keep that ball on the infield and they were both in this game. Aviles stopped fist pumping and started motoring when Elvis Andrus surprised him by keeping the ball on the infield. He also said Andrus had no play at first and it was a good decision to eat the ball. With a runner on third a wild throw would’ve ended the game.
Don’t forget Hochevar
A reader pointed out that the in the excitement of Thursday’s night’s finish, how well Luke Hochevar pitched kinda got lost. Couldn’t agree more, hell of an outing.
No first movement
Doug Sisson, who reads this site regularly (hi, Doug!) says I’ve got it wrong: the Royals do not go on first movement with a lefty on the mound. First movement is a roll of the dice when you can’t read a lefthander’s move. You go and hope you guessed right. Sisson says they always have a key when they go. They might read it wrong and get thrown out, but it’s not guesswork. And if they go, even when a pitcher’s got a good record of holding runners, it’s because they have a reason to believe they can beat those odds.
Back to normal
I was informed in the clubhouse that ever since comedian Daniel Tosh took a punch from boxer Manny Pacquiao, my street cred is back to zero. I’m not even going to contemplate what it would take to top that stunt. I believe I’ll live without the street cred, but with whatever brain cells I have left over from the 70s.