Games » Minnesota TwinsJul15
A very important no-decision
Let’s start with Hosmer’s home run. Eric has been swinging at high fastballs, the word (or the video) has gotten around and now you see pitchers go up in the zone to see if Hosmer will chase. Top of the 9th, down 1-0, runner on second, two outs, Twin’s closer Matt Capps went upstairs to see if Eric would chase and Eric did.
Capps decided to come right back with another high fastball on the 0-1 count, didn’t get it high enough and Hosmer blasted it over the centerfield wall. (That’s a really long way to hit a baseball.) So now pitchers know they can go up there, but if they miss, Hosmer can make them pay. And Hosmer knows he can hit that pitch a long way, but a pitch that he can’t hit at all is only slightly higher. You can expect this scenario to be repeated, so watch for it in the future.
The other big event in this game was Hochevar’s quality start. (The Royals are a winning club when they get one and well under .500 when they don’t). Hochevar avoided the familiar meltdown inning in this game. The Royals said they spotted something that might fix Luke, but wouldn’t say what it was. Whatever adjustment he made (Frank White thought it might’ve been pitching inside more often) it was nice to see Hochevar put up seven innings while giving up only one run. (Nice to see? It was great to see.)
If this is the real deal and Hochevar can repeat this performance, it’s big news. It means the Royals are much closer to having a competitive team (as long as they don’t dismantle it at the trading deadline).
The Twins’ run
Classic small ball: an infield hit, a stolen base, a ground ball to the right side and a wild pitch almost won the game for the Twins. I’ve pointed out all the balls in the dirt that Matt Treanor has blocked with a runner on third (and he saved two more runs by doing that in this game), so it’s only fair that I point out that he didn’t get this fastball blocked. Treanor reached out and tried to backhand the ball and didn’t get his body in front of it. On the other hand, it was a fastball and those are the hardest pitches to block because there’s less time to move. A slider or curve in the dirt you can see coming and adjust. Ninety mph+ in the dirt and things happen in a hurry.
After one game when Treanor had a high fastball go past him untouched, I was giving him a hard time. “Hey, what was that pitch you completely whiffed on? Don’t umpires like it when you at least slow them down?” Matt informed me it was a 95-mph fastball face-high and when a pitcher misses by that much, it’s hard to get the glove there in time .
Another thing you can watch for
Watch the catcher’s eyes when he’s giving signs. You could see Treanor glance up at the hitter. Catchers check to make sure hitters aren’t peeking back at the signs. If they catch someone looking you can expect the next pitch to buzz the tower as a warning.
And while you’re watching
Sunday we’re going to run the first half summary in the print edition and post the unedited version online. In the meantime, here’s some stuff you can watch for during the second half:
Chris Getz: Can he keep the ball out of the air? He’s better when he hits it on the ground and makes use of his speed.
Melky Cabrera: Can he maintain his first-half consistency? I don’t remember him having any kind of prolonged slump. Is he due for one in the second half? Or do I just have a bad memory?
Alex Gordon: Will he continue to hit the ball the other way and not worry about home runs? Will he steal bases more often in the second half?
Billy Butler: Watch him with runners in scoring position. Billy says pitchers work around him and sometimes they do, but in Friday’s game they went after him three times with a runner in scoring position. Billy’s got more than 80 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Will he stay patient and take his walks or expand his zone?
Eric Hosmer: Will he lay off that high fastball and will he continue to go the other way? Will he cut down on his throwing errors by learning which plays can be made and which ones can’t?
Jeff Francoeur: RBIs are his most important offensive statistic. Will he be patient and get a ball out over the plate or pull-happy and chase pitches in?
Mike Moustakas: He says right now when he’s getting his pitch, he’s missing it. When Mike gets a hittable fastball (look for a pitch above 90 mph in the FoxTrax zone) does he hit it hard somewhere?
Matt Treanor: Will he continue to make himself valuable on offense by taking his walks?
Brayan Pena: Will his game-calling be a concern?
Alcides Escobar: Will he continue to maintain his average by hitting the ball the other way?
Luke Hochevar: Can he repeat Friday’s performance?
Kyle Davies: Can he figure things out and string together some quality starts?
Bruce Chen (and every other pitcher): Does he pitch ahead in the count and avoid 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1 and 3-2 counts?
Felipe Paulino: Can he continue to be a horse and go deep in games?
Danny Duffy: Can he continue to improve, keep his pitch count down, work faster and cut down his delivery time to the plate?
Jeff Francis: Can we get the poor guy some runs?
Tim Collins: Can he cut down on his walks?
Greg Holland: Can he continue to dominate which might free up Aaron Crow to go to the starting rotation next season?
We posted a video of Doug Sisson talking about his responsibilities as a first-base coach. Great stuff, lousy sound. We had a bad microphone cord and that’s the static you hear on the video. Persevere, the information’s worth it.