Games » Minnesota TwinsJun4
It ain't bad baseball, but it ain't winning
That’s what Ned Yost said after this ballgame. I’ve got to agree with him. There were times in the past I thought I was seeing horrible baseball. This is not one of them … but the Royals aren’t winning, either.
One of the stats I keep is when a pitcher gives up more than four earned runs. That’s a game in which the rest of team is going to have a hard time keeping up with what the pitcher is doing on the mound. That has happened to the Royals 17 times already this season. So by the time the starter leaves, the game is pretty much over … or at least the offense has a sizeable hill to climb.
If you want to look on the bright side — and why wouldn’t you? — Joakim Soria had another good outing, Chris Getz turned a beauty of a double play with the Twins’ Alexi Casilla all over him and let’s see … nobody got hurt.
If you want to look on the dark side, become a political cartoonist … or add two mental mistakes to the Royals’ one error. Eric Hosmer left the bag too early on a bunt. (He needed to wait to see whether the pitcher would be able to field the ball. By leaving too early, he left first base open and, even though he broke right away, Getz couldn’t get there in time). And Jeff Francoeur threw behind a runner, allowing the runner to advance to the next base.
By the way, here’s part of why Frenchy is so likeable. The team just lost, the mood was down and I had to walk up to Jeff and ask, “What did you see on that play?”
“Me being stupid,” Jeff said. No excuses. No justification, Jeff said he got deked by the runner (who acted as if he was going back to first), tried to do too much by picking him off the base and as soon as Jeff threw, the runner headed for second. There are a lot of politicians who could take a lesson from Jeff Francoeur.
Just say you screwed up and move on.
An unusual play that worked
In the sixth inning, the Twins had runners on first and second, nobody out and batter Michael Cuddyer was in a 3-2 count. Manager Ron Gardenhire put the runners in motion. That’s not unusual. If you think the batter is a good bet to make contact, putting a runner in motion with a 3-2 count is pretty standard … but with two runners on and nobody out you’re risking a triple play. A lot of managers won’t do it. The Twins got away with it, and as The Star’s Bob Dutton pointed out in the postgame news conference, it was a big play in the game.
If the runners aren’t in motion, the 6-3 Cuddyer hit is a double play. Danny Valencia grounded out to first immediately afterward, and Royals starter Luke Hochevar would have been out of the inning with a lead. Of course, if he was still planning on blowing up in the seventh inning, it would not have changed the outcome. The outcome would have just looked better.
Duffy’s right knee
I’ve mentioned that the higher a pitcher picks up his front knee, the longer it takes to get the ball home. On Friday night, Danny Duffy picked off a runner at first, but he took so long to get his foot down and throw the ball to first baseman Eric Hosmer, Eric had no chance to nail the runner at second base. If you can’t pick off runners even when you pick them off, they don’t have much incentive to stay where they are.
Watch for this in future starts and you’ll see whether Duffy can make the necessary adjustment without affecting the quality of what he throws to home plate.
More information than you require
The press box in Kauffman Stadium is on the sixth floor, along with the dining room. (Hmmm, they put the journalists near the food … how did they know?) If you’re in the stadium, look up. It’s the top row of windows behind home plate. Inside the press box is a counter with the press handouts. People covering the team are given an amazing amount of information to work with.
One of the handouts I always pick up is “Major League Standings and Upcoming Probables.” Thursday’s handout was 15 pages thick. To stay awake on our way to Columbia (I was moving my son home for the summer), I made my son read it to me.
Here’s some of the interesting stuff the report contained (all these numbers were current as of Friday morning):
*The Royals are 25-31/19-15 at home/6-16 on the road (hmmm, need to play all the games at home … do you think Bud Selig would mind?)/4-5 vs. the East/9-13 in the Central/11-11 vs. the West and 1-2 in interleague play.
*The relievers’ ERAs: Collins 2.61/Crow 1.33/Holland 0.00/Teaford 2.84/Wood 2.78/Adcock 3.77/ Coleman 3.12 and Soria 6.00 so it’s pretty easy to see the pattern: with the exception of Paulino (small sample size) the starting pitching has been suspect (as predicted). With the exception of Soria (not as predicted) the bullpen has been nails.
*Ideally, walks to innings pitched should be less than three walks every nine innings (or as Jeff Francis put it, “a little to a lot” … these guys can get pretty scientific). Not surprisingly, the guys who keep this ratio low limit the damage. Tim Collins, on the other hand, has 24 walks in 31 innings. With a low ERA, you know he’s mostly getting away with it, but you also know he’s had a lot of high-stress innings, and the habit could come back to bite him. Jeff pointed out that Tim strikes out a lot of batters, which helps him limit the damage.
*Looking at the hitter breakdowns can help you understand some of the lineups you see. For instance: Chris Getz hits righties at a .252 pace and lefties at .257. If he hits both equally well, why not have him in there all the time? Because Mike Aviles hits righties at a .198 clip, but lefties at .333. You don’t take Chris out against lefties because of his performance, but because of Mike’s. (Although Aviles’s recent defensive problems might change that thinking.)
*Here’s one: The best three hitters with a runner in scoring position? Getz .382, Betemit .381, and Maier at .361. Which of course means they’re clutch players, right? Maybe, maybe not. How big is the sample size? Whom did they face? If you come through with a runner in scoring position when you’re down by 10 runs, it’s a little different than coming through down by one run in extra innings.
OK, enough. I wrote this to make two points: The Royals have a lot of information at their fingertips (and this doesn’t include the stuff they don’t share with everybody), so if you think you know something they don’t, it’s not likely. The second thing is this: I can find a number that makes any player look like a champ … and I can find a number that makes the same player look like a chump. So don’t get overly excited about any one statistic. There are a lot of statistics. For instance, did you know that 100 percent of all cartoonists with baseball websites have the ability to state the obvious?
You could look it up.