Games » Tampa Bay RaysApr29
Anatomy of a big inning…
In the majority of all ballgames, the winning team will score more runs in one inning than the losing team does in nine. At least that’s what statisticians say, and I believe them. I also believe it’s hard to put together a big inning without your opponent’s help.
So what did the Royals do to help Tampa Bay score five runs in the second inning?
B.J. Upton grounds out 4-3, and Longoria moves to third. Two down. The Royals are still in decent shape, although, weirdly enough, two down is a danger point for some pitchers. They let up and lose focus.
And just to prove my point: Pat Burrell singles on a 1-1 pitch and Longoria scores. No big deal…yet. Then Hochevar decides to help out some more and walks John Jaso. This IS a big deal. Hochevar has just helped the Rays by pushing another run into scoring position. Now instead of two hits to score a run, the Rays need just one.
Reid Brignac comes to the plate and Hochevar gives up that one hit, a single to right. The run that was pushed into scoring position by the walk scores. Meanwhile, Jose Guillen shows off his arm by throwing the ball over Jason Kendall’s head, which allows Brignac to move to second (what’s it take to get an error in this league?…I scored it a mental mistake). Now there are two runners in scoring position and no force at second. A little more help for the home team.
(The rap I’ve heard on Hochevar is that when he gets in trouble, he overthrows. The ball stays up instead of sinking, and that allows hitters to square it up instead of hitting the top half and putting easy grounders in play.)
Whatever the reason, he now leaves a ball up to Jason Bartlett on a 1-2 count, and Bartlett lines it into the corner. Guillen throws gas on the fire by taking a bad…and slow…route to the ball. The idea is to race to a spot deeper than the ball and adjust from there. Guillen’s racing days are over, and he runs straight across instead, misjudging the ball and allowing it to get into the corner. Two more runs score. I’m not sure he could’ve caught it or kept it in front of him if he’d done everything right, but his route definitely didn’t help.
Next, Hochevar leaves another ball up to Carl Crawford, who hits another triple, drives in the fifth run of the inning and the ballgame was pretty much over.
The Rays are a very good team, but help them out by losing focus, walking people, overthrowing and missing cutting men, and they become unbeatable.
Tejeda’s mental mistake…
The Royals are down 11-1 in the eighth. At this point, everyone’s playing station-to-station-don’t-get-hurt baseball. Brignac’s on first, but he’s not going anywhere. If the first baseman is not going to hold the runner, he signals the pitcher that he won’t be at the bag by crossing his arms at the wrist.
I couldn’t see it on TV, but I assume that’s what Billy Butler did. Robinson Tejeda appears to space out and decides to go over, even though everyone in the park, including several usherettes, know the Rays aren’t stealing up 11-1.
He whirls to throw, no first baseman, has to hold onto the ball, and that’s a balk.
John Parrish’s problem…
He’s on the DL because his shoulder’s bothering him and he’s experiencing discomfort and irritation? Really? I’m still working and I’ve experienced discomfort and irritation every day since I turned 40.
Butler’s mental mistake…
In the fourth inning: Single to right, runner at second. With two outs, the runner can break right away, so he gets a good jump. Guillen once again launches a scud missile toward home plate and misses the cutoff man. On TV it was hard to tell if the throw was high, but Butler appeared to be out of position. He was too close to the outfield and hadn’t gotten back by the mound.
The first baseman’s job on this play is to retreat to the mound area and listen to the catcher. The catcher gets him lined up with the throw and then lets him know whether to cut the ball or let it go. If the catcher wants him to cut the ball, he’ll add the base the ball goes to, as in “cut two.”
This keeps the runner rounding first close to the bag, knowing if he attempts to go to second, the first baseman can cut the ball off and nail him. If the throw is high or the first baseman isn’t there, the runner can safely advance.
This play appeared to have a little of both, but since Butler has been instrumental in causing some errors for other players, I decided to give Guillen the benefit of the doubt.
By the way, these decisions can be appealed…and I’m not above bribery.