Games » Toronto Blue JaysJun9
How Mitch Maier helped win the game
Lots of people helped win this game, and you’ve probably already read about them. But what Mitch Maier did in the third inning should not be overlooked.
With Matt Treanor on second, Alcides Escobar on first and the score 0-0, Maier laid down a bunt. At first it looked good, but Toronto’s catcher, J.P. Arencibia, came out from behind the plate and made a good play to gun down Treanor at third. When a player attempts a bunt and fails, he’s mad at himself. He’s giving away a plate appearance for the good of the team, fails and hurts his average at the same time. It does not put you in a good mood.
So Maier is on first, probably disgusted with himself (I know he wasn’t very happy with the bunt), and Melky Cabrera grounds into a tailor-made double play. Except Maier hustled, got down to second and took out the Blue Jays’ pivot man. If Mitch had been moping and feeling sorry for himself, he wouldn’t have given that kind of effort.
So instead of being out of the inning, the Jays had two outs and runners at first and third. The Royals then scored three runs all because Maier did his job and bought them an extra out in the inning.
The little things mean a lot.
Those three hits
After Maier took out the pivot man, Eric Hosmer, Jeff Francoeur and Billy Butler all walked to the plate, swung at the first pitch and dropped the ball into right field. After the game, Francoeur said they’d noticed the Jays starter, Ricky Romero, was getting ahead with first-pitch strikes and then working off the plate with breaking stuff.
So after this pattern was established in their first at-bat, they went to the plate in their second at-bat looking to jump on the first pitch.
Their mini-ambush worked and got the Royals the three runs they needed to win.
And, by the way, it was probably the right call to send Francoeur home to end the third. He was thrown out at the plate, but Wilson Betemit was on deck. Betemit was hitting .237 right-handed coming into the game, and there were two outs in the inning. So if Eddie Rodriguez sends Francoeur home 10 times and he’s safe only three times, that’s still better than holding the runner up and letting Betemit hit.
(A heads up: Eddie Rodriguez came out early and did some terrific videos on what he has to do at third base. We’re cutting them up into a five-part miniseries and will post a new one every few days once they’re ready.)
Hosmer on his own
If you were yelling at your TV…wait, no TV…OK, if you were yelling at your radio when Hosmer led off the eighth with a bunt-for-a-hit attempt, rest assured that didn’t come from management. Hosmer came to the plate, saw the third baseman back and over toward short and figured he could lead off the inning with a hit if he pushed the bunt past the pitcher. He didn’t get it done, but at least he’s thinking like a team player.
Wait, maybe Treanor won the game
Fourth inning, pitch in the dirt with a runner on third, and Matt blocked it. Always worth noting this play, particularly in a one-run win. After the game, Treanor showed me where he got hit on the ankle with a 94-mph fastball. That bruise is right below the old one on his shin. That’s why he’s got that small shin guard on his left leg. He’s got a bump there that he says will go away in about a year. I’d never fight a catcher: where could you hit them that would bother them?
A couple more points of interest
Maier created a double in the fifth inning by going hard out of the box on what looked like a single. The center fielder was moving sideways and slightly away from second when he picked up the ball, and the Royals’ base runners have been taught to advance when they see that.
In the seventh, Escobar was in a bunt situation after Treanor led off the inning with a single. Look for the pitcher to go over to first in a bunt situation, but pay attention to what the hitter does. The defense is not trying to pick off the runner; it’s trying to get the batter to show bunt. Escobar did, the Jays adjusted their defense, but Escobar still got it down despite making the mistake of revealing the Royals’ intentions.
And finally, Mike Aviles
You’ve all heard by now — Mike Aviles was sent down and Mike Moustakas is coming up. Aviles has scuffled defensively and, this season, offensively. Aviles has never had a permanent defensive position, but always kept himself in the lineup with his bat. That hasn’t been happening this year.
Aviles didn’t do himself any favors in this game, getting picked off and failing to turn a double play that could’ve gotten the Royals out of the fourth inning with no damage. Even worse, he didn’t attempt the double play but chose to eat the ball. Apparently, he’s been encouraged to take a shot on those plays and rely on Hosmer’s glove if it’s a bad throw.
When Chris Getz came out to play second in the top of the ninth, I wondered what was up. I haven’t seen Ned Yost make that kind of defensive switch late in a game very often.
After the game, Yost said he would’ve pinch hit for Aviles if the game had gone to the bottom of the ninth. Yost said when you’re pinch-hitting for Aviles or making defensive switches to cover for him, it’s time to make a change.
I hope he gets things figured out in Omaha.