Games » Chicago White SoxJul5
Plays of the game that won't show up in the box score
Unfortunately for me, Ryan Lefebvre and Jeff Montgomery did a great job of pointing this stuff out during the telecast of Tuesday night’s game (geez, I thought that was my schtick), but let’s go over a few of the plays of the game that won’t make the box score.
Like Jeff Francoeur saving a run in the fourth inning. With one down and Gordon Beckham on first, Juan Pierre singled to right field and Gordon Beckham did not advance to third. Francoeur’s arm kept Beckham at second. Brent Morel then grounded out to Mike Moustakas, and Beckham only advanced to third instead of scoring. (He might not have scored on that grounder, but it was a dribbler, and if the contact play had been on, Moose probably still would have thrown to first.)
Time out for incredulity: Billy Butler was quoted in the paper this morning as saying he didn’t understand why he wasn’t playing first base for the Royals during interleague play. Someone needs to show him the replay of the pick Eric Hosmer made on this play. The ball was in the dirt and had a nasty hop. If the ball was not caught, there would be no out, and if the ball was not at least blocked, a run and maybe two runs would have scored. Hosmer has committed a few errors, which mainly have come on throws he tried to force, but his glove has been outstanding.
OK. Second inning. The Royals scored three runs, but only because Francoeur hustled on a broken-bat fielder’s choice. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Frenchy busted down the line and avoided the double play. Once again, don’t overlook Eric Hosmer. He busted down to second base, and while he didn’t get a piece of the pivot man, Eric made him move laterally instead of forward. That meant there wasn’t much on the throw and Jeff beat it out.
Moustakas also did a bit of professional hitting in this inning. With one out (because of Francoeur and Hosmer) and Butler on third, Moose was backed into a corner with two strikes. One of the theories of pitching is to give a guy what he wants, but a little too much of it. In this case, Mike needed a ball up in the zone that he could drive to the outfield, scoring Butler.
White Sox pitcher Jake Peavey tried to get Mike to chase a pitch that was too high, but Moose stayed on top of it (kept the barrel of the bat above the ball until contact) and was able to hit a sacrifice fly to center field. The next batter, Matt Treanor, got hit by a pitch, then Alcides Escobar tripled to right and two more runs scored, but it was all because of efforts of Hosmer and Francoeur.
Why he’s good
After hitting a home run, the cameras caught Chicago’s Paul Konerko talking with teammate Brent Lillibridge. Konerko was showing Lillibridge a key that he had picked up while watching Royals starter Felipe Paulino. Konerko demonstrated two arm angles, one higher than the other, and he probably was telling Lillibridge that when Paulino’s arm is higher, you’re getting this particular pitch. Konerko picked up another hit off Paulino in his next at-bat, but Lillibridge didn’t seem to make use of the information, striking out four times.
On a throw home, Paulino was nowhere near the right spot. When the play might be at home plate or third base, the pitcher heads to foul territory halfway between and then backs up whichever base the throw goes to. Felipe got caught loitering in the infield. (You’ve got to go right away. If you wait until you see that you’re needed, you’re way behind.) Not only did he not back up the base, he may have contributed to the error that Matt Treanor committed by blocking Treanor’s view of the throw.
Pitchers often have the tendency to become spectators after giving up a hit, watching the ball and mouth-breathing while everyone else is working to contain the damage. It’s so common that catchers are instructed to yell, “GET OVER!” any time the ball is hit to the right side so the pitcher won’t forget to cover first.
Taking what they give you
Home-plate umpire Brian O’Nora was giving a wide strike zone on the outside corner whenever a left-handed hitter was at the plate. (Chicago’s Mark Teahen got hosed.) That sometimes happens when an umpire sets up on the inside corner and the catcher’s head blocks his view of the outside part of the plate. True to form, once Royals catcher Matt Treanor got the outside pitch, he moved even farther outside. If you will give me a pitch this far outside, will you give me a pitch this far outside?
The catcher will keep moving out until the umpire starts to call balls, indicating that the catcher has gone as far as he can go. And that brings me to …
Caught between shin guards
While we were making videos with him, Matt Treanor told me something interesting. (OK. He told me lots of things that were interesting, but were concentrating on this one for now.) The catcher’s shin guards are a handy reference point for the umpire. If Matt can keep the ball between the shin guards, the pitch is more likely to be called a strike.
If the pitch is close, but not exactly where a catcher wants it, he might subtly sway that direction in order to keep the pitch between the shin guards. (Matt said some catchers might do this, but he didn’t say he did. Sure, Matt, we believe you.) So the umpire, who should be locked on to the pitch, looks down and it’s in the catcher’s mitt, between the shin guards.
Man, there are a million little points to this game that you don’t know until you talk to the best players and coaches in the world … lucky for me. I sure hope everyone who reads this website takes the opportunity to play genius when they are watching the game with their friends. Of course, knowing the role that the catcher’s shin guards play in calling balls and strikes will not impress the opposite sex … probably just the reverse. “Sorry, I don’t date guys who know that kind of thing.” So maybe you should save this knowledge for your male buddies.
On the other hand, if you’re a female reader and you know this kind of thing, guys will want to marry you.
Speaking of videos
This website has been put together in a completely random manner. It started out as me watching the games and scoring them using Ron Polk’s system. Then I decided I needed to talk to the players to make sure the scoring decisions I was making made some sort of sense. Then we decided I needed game notes to explain those scoring decisions. Then, coming into this season, I was asked whether we could add a video element to the site.
I thought about it and said I would give it a whack. I mainly thought of using the videos as instructional devices and let the best players in the world show us their skills. Then, because I’m curious and immature, I began to wonder what it would be like to attempt some of the things that the players make look so easy.
And that leads us to the video of me throwing with Jeff Francoeur and Mitch Maier. Just watching it is embarrassing, but that’s the point. if I could throw like they do, why not give me millions of dollars to play? The players enjoyed it immensely. Mitch warned me that home plate was going to seem farther away than I thought. He was right. The night after we shot this video, Frenchy went down into the corner, picked up a ball by the foul pole, spun and threw a one-hop strike to home plate.
You might have thought that was a great play. After being out there with them and attempting some of the same stuff, I thought it was a really great play. They might make this stuff look easy, but it ain’t.
Lee Judge tries to make the throw with Royals Jeff Francoeur
Kansas City Royals right field Jeff Francoeur shows The Stars Lee Judge how to make a throw in from right, and then Judge gives it a try. June 27, 2011 (Video by John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)