Games » Los Angeles AngelsJun1
Esky's defense makes Billy a game-winner
“His runs are in his glove.” That’s how Ned Yost described Alcides Escobar’s contribution to the Royals’ offense. Ned said he didn’t care if Escobar hit .100. What he’s doing on defense more than makes up for any offensive shortcomings (and Ned thinks Alcides eventually will hit). Apparently, someone yelled that Ned should get a hitter in there when Alcides went to the plate in the eighth inning and Ned wondered what game the fan was watching.
Ned said that If Escobar saves you four runs on defense (and that’s how many runs Ned thought he saved in this game), it’s the same as driving in four. Fans can go a long ways toward thinking about the game the way professionals do if they adopt this attitude. Get hits or rob hits. Drive in runs or stop runs. It’s all the same. If all you think about is offense, you’re missing half the game.
Billy Butler’s home run was dramatic, but it wouldn’t have mattered without Alcides’ defense.
The 3 in the 6-3
The assistant in Alicides’ magic act is Eric Hosmer. Esky told me he has so much confidence in Hosmer’s glove that he throws from any angle, knowing Eric will help him out. Chris Getz told me Eric’s range changes where he can play, because he can cover a lot of ground. Like I’ve said, a first baseman can make everyone on the infield better or worse, and Eric’s making everyone better.
The Coors effect
Felipe Paulino looked great again. Just remember that the somewhat ugly numbers he had put up came at Coors Field, a ballpark that can make any pitcher look mediocre.
I’m Frenchy’s sponsor
As I mentioned yesterday, Jeff Francoeur thinks he’s been a little pull-happy and wants to lay off the inside pitch. Jeff wants to wait for something out over the plate. After Tuesday’s game, I was giving him a hard time about chasing the inside pitch, even though he didn’t want to. Before Wednesday’s game, I walked up and gave him a business card with my cellphone number on it. I said “You can call me day or night … any time you start thinking about swinging at an inside pitch, call me and I’ll talk you out of it.”
He started laughing and said, “I like it!” Later, we talked about the game on Tuesday and how those pitches from Joel Pineiro actually started in the middle of the plate and then ran in, so Jeff’s not just hacking wildly. He did admit that once the pitch got in on him, he needed to shut down his swing and take it. He predicted a better day against Tyler Chatwood because Chatwood’s stuff was straighter. Then Jeff went out and got two hits.
Why they steal when they steal
A reader wondered whether all the pickoffs have made the Royals a little gun-shy about stealing bases lately. First-base coach Doug Sisson said absolutely not. If the Royals aren’t stealing bases, it’s because the numbers (pitcher’s delivery time and catcher’s time getting the ball to second base) tell them not to. Some teams pay more attention to this than others. When the numbers say they can go, they will.
Doug also made the point that with Jarrod Dyson in Omaha and Chris Getz out of the lineup at times, the Royals become a team of “situational” base stealers. They will steal when the math says yes, but for a lot of these guys, it often says no.
And while we’re talking about Doug
Early Tuesday Doug was hitting fungos to the outfielders, and they were throwing home. I asked what they were working on, and Doug said one-hop throws. So the next logical question was, “Why one-hop throws?”
“Because you’ll never miss the cutoff man.”
If you try to throw the ball all the way in the air to a base, the trajectory can get too high and runners can advance while everyone waits for the ball to come down. If the outfielder one-hops the throw, the ball is low enough to be cut off. Sisson also said they don’t ask outfielders to “hit the cutoff man.” They ask outfielders to hit the bases. It’s the cutoff man’s responsibility to get into position to handle the throw.
Woody and the splitter
I’ve meant to ask him a dozen times, but finally got around to it. What the heck is Blake Wood looking at when he’s staring into his glove before he throws a pitch?
Blake is getting the ball in his split-finger grip. It’s hard for him to jam the ball back between the fingers, so he starts in that grip and goes to the easier ones. If he did it the other way around, everyone would know once he started fooling with the ball that the pitch would be his splitter.
Speaking of tipping pitches
I talked some more with Jeff Montgomery about tipping pitches because people are speculating about that with Joakim Soria. Monty said you can tip a pitch in a number of ways: The way the glove is held, the position of your elbow and, interestingly enough, the forefinger on your glove hand.
That is why they started putting those little leather finger sleeves on the back of baseball gloves. Apparently, some pitchers would curl their fingers and tip off what they were doing with the other hand. And I thought they had the finger sleeves just because they looked cool.