Games » Texas RangersMay27
How Melky Cabrera won the game in the 4th
OK, I may have exaggerated just a bit to get your attention (live with it, I’m a cartoonist), but Melky Cabrera did something pretty cool in the 4th inning that may have gone unnoticed: he ran the right direction.
With one down, the Rangers Michael Young came to the plate and hit a rope into right center that looked like a sure double - until Melky ran a great route. So what’s that mean? You hear someone say ‘he ran a great route’ all the time. What are they talking about?
OK, pretend you’re Melky Cabrera standing in center field and you’re at point A. The ball is hit to your left, so now imagine its line of travel off to the left of point A. If you run the shortest route to the ball it would be a straight line from point A to the line of travel, intersecting the line at the earliest possible point. We’re going to call that point B. The problem with this is you’re going to arrive at the line of travel moving laterally. You will be in a bad position to make the catch and a worse position to make the throw. The runner will be able to take the extra base, once he sees you moving away from second base.
So if running straight to the ball is the wrong thing to do, what is the right thing to do? You run laterally to the line of travel at an angle that has you arriving at a point behind point B. Once you get in line with the ball, you turn and start running towards it and the infield. Since humans don’t make turns at perfect right angles your route will look curved and that’s why it’s called a “banana route.”
I don’t know if you’re getting the mental picture, but the basic idea is you run to a point deeper than you have to, turn and catch the ball coming towards the infield. This allows you to react to any bad hop, (because you’re squared up) and means you’ll get off a stronger throw.
It also means Michael Young got one base instead of two. So when Beltre hit a fly ball to deep right center, Young went halfway and then retreated to first instead of being on second and tagging up. That meant when Nate Adcock threw his wild pitch Young advanced to second instead of coming home to score. And that meant the game was still tied after 9 innings.
What I just did here is a little unfair. (Remember the “get used to it, I’m a cartoonist” line?) Assuming everything would’ve played out the same if Melky had run a worse route and Young had got a double is a big assumption. And picking one play out of everything that happened in a game like this and saying that saved the game is a bit myopic. But appreciating a small thing, done well, that helps a team win seems like a worthwhile exercise.
The problem with baseball is they don’t tell you what plays will matter until the game is over. If they would just announce over the P.A. system that “THIS NEXT PLAY WILL DECIDE THE BALLGAME” everyone would focus up and be at their best. Until then, players will just have to try to play right all the time.
In the 4th inning, Melky Cabrera did, and it might have saved the game.
Small things done poorly
Well, now that I’ve built him up and made you appreciate his attention to detail: Cabrera got docked points for failing to slide into second on a close play in extra innings. The replay showed he was probably out, but got the call.
Matt Treanor probably left the plate too early on a ball hit to Wilson Betemit. Betemit had a runner going home and Matt assumed Wilson was going to try to turn the double play (which is probably the right play; this is one of those times when I wish they were at home so I could find out what was going on). Betemit looked home, but Treanor had left the plate to back up first, so Wilson took the out there. Betemit didn’t cut down the run and he didn’t have time to turn two after starting for home, so the Royals got stuck with the worst of the three options. It could be the mental mistake was Wilson’s, but until I hear something else, I’m assuming Matt had to stay home until he saw what play Betemit was going for.
Brayan Pena hung Eric Hosmer out to dry on a pop fly. The ball went up and appeared to be well within Eric’s area of responsibility (they’ve got a chart). Brayan put his head down and didn’t keep watching the ball. The wind caught it and pushed it back towards the plate and Hosmer ended up diving for it near Pena and didn’t make the catch. The batter (I think it was Nelson Cruz) then smoked the next pitch and it looked like he had just won the game with a walk-off homer, but the wind that gave him another chance also took away the home run.
By the way, both Brayan and Melky seemed to spend a little too much time at the plate admiring their extra-inning home runs. Maybe the wind was howling enough that they knew they were gone, but I’d hate to see them be wrong and lose an extra base in extra innings.
Escobar’s ridiculous defense
Last night I counted four above-average plays Alcides Escobar turned in at shortstop. It’s getting ridiculous. He went out on the grass to his backhand side, made the stop and threw a bullet for the out. I almost didn’t score it an outstanding play. He already had three and I thought “Oh, he makes that play all the time,” but then thought why downgrade a play that would be difficult for anyone else just because Esky makes it easily? We really need to appreciate what he’s doing on defense and remember it when he doesn’t get it done on offense.
Who the hell is Felipe Paulino?
Yesterday I said that losing Tejeda and getting Paulino didn’t seem like much of an upgrade. Looks like the Royals knew something I didn’t. Apparently, they needed someone who could throw long relief (I think Adcock was that guy until he went into the rotation) and Paulino pitched great.
Maybe his ERA was inflated by Coors Field. Whatever it was that had his numbers so high, didn’t show up last night.
And speaking of Coors Field: after watching a few games there, I thought the infield was fast, so you didn’t want the ball hit on the ground, and the ball flew, so you didn’t want the ball hit in the air. I asked Clint Hurdle how the hell a pitcher was supposed to pitch under those circumstances. His response was revealing.
“We know you’re going to give up home runs, don’t walk two people first.”
This gets us to the “limit the damage” concept so important to pitchers and that gets us to Nate Adcock. He struck out Beltre in the first, but threw a wild pitch while doing so (which doesn’t say much for Beltre’s pitch selection). Beltre reached first and came around to score. Then Nate walked Kinsler to lead off the second and Kinsler came around to score.
This game is hard enough without helping the other team.
Getting our money’s worth
That’s 12 extra-inning games so far this season. I’m torn between being a fan and a journalist. A fan wants his favorite team to win and a journalist wants to see anything but a tie game. It might be overtime to fans, but our bosses don’t see it that way. You get paid the same whether it’s 9 or 19 innings and most of us would rather see 9. Yet that was still pretty cool last night, wasn’t it?
The game ended so late last night I thought I would make fewer mistakes if I waited until morning to enter the numbers. So if you catch one (and I already have) just think how bad it could have been.