Games » Colorado RockiesJul1
Different ballpark, different game plan
After the Royals lost a game in San Diego, I said part of the reason was their inability to put pressure on the Padres defense. They hit too many balls in the air and stuck out too many times. Well, in this game they struck out only four times and grounded out about 57 times, so why didn’t that work?
Different ballpark, different game plan.
Teams not only build their roster around the place they play (fly ball hitters in Texas, line drive hitters in KC), but they plan their game plan around the place they play. In San Diego, the Padres pitchers are happy to let you hit fly balls. The “heavy marine air” (I actually have no idea what that means scientifically, but, as Dave Barry used to say, it sounds like a good name for a band) settles in at night and the ball doesn’t carry.
In Colorado’s lighter, non-Marine, drier than a good Martini air, the ball does carry. And it carries especially well in right center. Watch for any ball hit toward that right field bullpen in the air, it’s got a good chance to get out (and two balls were hit into that bullpen in this game).
The Rockies pitcher, Juan Nicasio, did a good job — no, make that a great job — of keeping the ball down. It seemed to have late movement and Royals hitters had a hard time squaring anything up. Royals pitchers were up in the zone and their pitches had movement also, but they were mainly moving toward that right field bullpen and into the gaps.
Keep your eye on the Matt Treanor or Brayan Pena’s glove and whether it’s staying down (good location) or moving up (bad location) and you’ll have a good clue of what’s about to happen.
A conversation with Danny
A week ago I was shagging flies with Danny Duffy (which makes me so sound so much cooler than if I tell you what was really happening: I was standing around and every time a fly ball got close to us I’d say “yours”). Understandably enough, we got to talking about pitching.
He said an interesting thing: when he was pitching in St. Louis he found it really difficult to throw to another pitcher, much harder than he thought it would be. He was thinking how bad it would be to walk a pitcher. I said I didn’t know much about sports psychology, but I knew thinking, “Don’t walk this guy, don’t walk this guy” was not the right approach.
He must’ve gotten over the problem, because he went right after Nicasio and struck him out twice. Right after that conversation he had his best start of the year against the Cubs. He went 7 innings on 91 pitches, so I asked Matt Treanor what was different. He said Danny got more aggressive with the fastball. He went right after hitters and forced the action. Once he got them in swing-mode by throwing fastballs for strikes early, his breaking stuff was that much more effective.
He was trying to do the same thing against the Rockies, for the most part. Every once in a while, mainly to their better hitters, he’d pitch backwards: off-speed early, then the hard stuff. Maybe he was trying to break up his pitch pattern so people weren’t jumping on first pitch fastballs. The main problem seemed to be pitch location, though, not pitch sequence.
Watch for the pitch speeds (above 90 MPH is almost always fastball, below, usually off-speed — adjust accordingly for Bruce Chen) and you’ll be able to see what pattern the Royals pitchers are using.
Not a good sign
Before the team left I told Nat Adcock I hadn’t seen him pitch in a while, how long had it been?
“You don’t want to see me pitch.”
“I’m long relief. If I’m up in the pen, something bad is happening to the starter.” Nate was in the game after five innings and he was right, something bad had happened to the starter.
Getz gets up
Chris Getz got taken out hard on an attempted double play, but bounced right up. As Frank White pointed out, the key to surviving a take-out slide when you’re the pivot man, is making sure when you get hit, you have no weight on that leg. Otherwise, you can get seriously injured. Getting up off the ground means you can get flipped, but won’t wind up with an injured knee or ankle.
An error and a mental mistake?
Jeff Francoeur missed fielding a ball cleanly, allowing Troy Tulowitzski to advance to third, and was charged with an error. Frenchy let go with a throw towards third, trying to get Tulowitzski, Alcides Escobar tried to cut it off, it was too high and allowed the guy that hit the ball, Ty Wigginton, to advance to second.
If Jeff forgot about the runner and intentionally threw high in order to get the ball to third on the fly, that’s a mental mistake. If he was trying to throw low (the Royals want all throws from the outfield to come in on one bounce to ensure the throw stays low), but the ball got away from him, that’s a physical mistake.
After last season, I’ve gotten leery of handing out too many mental mistakes without talking to the players involved (and you’d be surprised at how often they confess that they screwed up). I had to take back a number of mental mistakes after finding out there was some other factor involved that I hadn’t recognized. Either way, it’s bad that Frenchy missed the cutoff man.
(By the way: Matt Treanor was talking about guys who aren’t very physical when taking on a catcher during a play at the plate. But Matt said Ty Wigginton would run you over. Just another thing to watch for this weekend.)
He’s had his chance
Someone down at work said they were listening to sports talk radio and they were saying it was time to trade Mike Moustakas. The kid’s played 17 games in the big leagues and it’s time to give up on him? Some people have the attention span of a hummingbird on crack, but you don’t have to. Ask most seasoned professionals how long it takes to get an accurate idea of what someone is bringing to the table and they’ll say 50 games. And it can take much longer.
Alex Gordon is having a break-out year. How long did it take for that to happen? If you want to watch the game like the professionals do, don’t get overly excited about Eric Hosmer starting out hot or Mike Moustakas starting out cold. It’s a long season