Games » St. Louis CardinalsJun17
The cost of walking a .231 hitter
Because Felipe Paulino didn’t throw strikes in the 3rd inning to a .231 hitter, Skip Schumaker, he had to face a .313 hitter, Jon Jay, a .274 hitter, but it was Albert Pujols, a .346 hitter, Matt Holliday and a .313 hitter, Lance Berkman. Berkman cleared the bases with a double and that tied the game and cost Paulino a win. There were only two hits in that 3rd inning, but mix in 3 walks and two hit batters, all with two outs and what might’ve been an easy inning, turned into a meltdown for Paulino. Three of the runs that scored were put on by Paulino himself.
Sooner or later, pitchers have to throw strikes and it’s a lot better sooner than later.
Still, Felipe showed something by coming back out for three more shutdown innings. The ability to regroup usually means mental toughness. The ability to regroup during a bad inning would be even better.
Paulino did OK with the bat, too
The bottom of the order had a good night, Getz had two hits, Escobar had two hits and Paulino got down two sac bunts, one for an RBI, aided by some superior base running from Getz. Chris timed a break for the plate and then came up with a great slide to avoid the tag.
Both of Chris’s hits stayed on the infield and we discussed the possibility that maybe he should avoid hitting the ball all the way to the outfielders. Maybe he needs a nine-iron instead of a Louisville Slugger.
Mitch Maier came to the plate in the 7th inning and lined one into right field. We talked about pinch hitting and Mitch said you can’t afford to take a good pitch in that spot. If you’re starting and know you’re coming to the plate four times, it might be worth looking at one, but pinch hitting late, you’ve got to be ready to tee up the first hittable pitch you see. There won’t be a second chance.
Walks come back to bite you
The game ended with the tying run on first and Albert Pujols at the plate. That’s one of the unseen costs (to many fans) of walks: they buy extra at-bats for the top of the order. A walk you’ve forgotten about in the third, might result in another at-bat for Pujols in the 9th. Throwing strikes is, generally speaking, a pretty good policy.
Eddie Rodriguez has a lot on his mind. When I said we were going to make some videos with the Royals third base coach, Star photographer, John Sleezer said, “But Eddie’s so quiet.” Not if you ask him the right question.
As I’ve mentioned more than once (I’m prejudiced, I used to coach third) third base coaches get screwed. They’ve got one of the toughest decision-making jobs in baseball and when they’re wrong, fans let them have it.
On the other hand, when they’re right, fans totally ignore them. Suddenly it becomes a great slide, not a great call by the coach. Knowing that, I asked Eddie what he was thinking when he was standing out there in the coach’s box. Twenty minutes later I asked if he’d say all that on camera. Eddie said sure, we showed up early and began to make a video.
Sure enough, twenty minutes later we’re still talking about what goes into base-coaching decisions. We decided to cut the video into 5 parts and will post a new one over 3 or 4 days. I hope you go to the trouble to follow along, it’s fascinating stuff and that’s rarely explained to the fans. If you go to the trouble to watch the videos, you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll never look at things in the same way.
A true story that explains some things
Here’s a true story that explains what sometimes happens to coaches and managers when they’re taking blame for someone else. I wrote this a while ago, but since we’re talking about Eddie Rodriguez and coaching third, now seemed like a good time to post it.
A third-base coach (it wasn’t Eddie if you’re wondering) had two outs and a slow runner on second. The on-deck hitter was left-handed. A third base coach has to think about the on-deck hitter because if he throws up the stop sign with two outs, that’s the guy who will have to drive the run in.
The coach could see into the visiting bullpen. The opposition was warming up a lefty to face the left-hander on deck. A third base coach also needs to know if this is a situation in which his team might pinch-hit for the on-deck hitter. That means he also needs to know the possible match-ups (if we send up so and so they’ll counter with what’s his name). The left-hander on-deck in this case was not a guy they were going to pinch hit for in this situation.
The third-base coach knew that the left-handed on-deck hitter was batting .181 against the left-handed reliever he would face. So the coach made the decision to be very aggressive about sending the runner. If he held him up, his team had an 18% chance of scoring the run based on past history.
Sure enough, the guy at the plate gets a hit and the coach waves the lumbering runner home. At this point the coach is just hoping for a bad throw or a dropped ball, because if the defense does everything right, the slow runner will be out. Even so, sending the runner was the right move because if you send him 10 times he’ll probably score more than twice. The coach looked at the situation and took the percentage play.
So naturally the throw is a good one, the catcher handles the ball cleanly and the runner is out by six feet. The coach gets showered with boos during the game and roasted in the press for the next few days. And the coach can’t say anything. He, as they say in the game, has to “wear” it. He can’t say, don’t look at me, our lefty can’t hit their lefty. That would be “throwing a player under the bus,” baseball slang for blaming someone else. The coach did the right thing during the game and the right thing after and got hammered for it.
So sometimes the true explanation for not laying down a bunt is, “Bob can’t bunt”, but the manager or coach can’t say that. So be careful who you boo, it’s possible that you’re the one making the mistake.