Games » Chicago White SoxJul18
No margin for errors
A double play was not turned, a walk scored and a base stealer that was thrown out was not called out. That’s all it took for the Royals to lose.
After the game Ned Yost said the team wasn’t good enough to cover mistakes. Everybody (including me) says they’re a play away from winning, but that also means, that on most nights, they can’t afford to make a mistake.
Monday night, they made several.
In the 6th inning Alcides Escobar threw away what looked like a double play ball. It wasn’t his only bad toss. It won’t show in the box score, but Brayan Pena saved Esky from another error on a throw home and Eric Hosmer did the same on a throw to first. Esky was all over the place and could have had three errors.
The good news is that Kyle Davies threw a lot better than Alcides Escobar. Kyle had nine strikeouts, a personal high, but might’ve had a little help from home plate umpire, C.B. Bucknor. Bucknor had a strike zone for every occasion, calling Jeff Francoeur out on a pitch that Frenchy thought was low, Alex Rios out on a pitch that looked well outside and Melky Cabrera out on a high pitch that A.J. Pierzynski jerked back into the zone. (Here’s a clue: if the catcher thinks the ball is a strike, he doesn’t jerk the glove around.)
Before the game I talked with pitching coach Bob McClure and he emphasized the need for the Royals to pitch inside. That’s what they had Hochevar doing the other day and that’s what they wanted Kyle to do Monday night.
Mac said a pitcher who doesn’t go up and in allows the hitter to lean out and foul off quality low and away pitches. The hitter can keep fouling off the good pitches and wait for a mistake. A pitcher that does go up and in prevents the hitter from leaning out and fouling off quality pitches and going up and in might allow the pitcher to get away with that mistake. Suddenly that becomes the pitch they foul off and they don’t touch the quality pitch.
In the 4th inning, Kyle hit A.J. Pierzynski, so I guess the message sunk in. Keep watching for Royals pitchers to attack this quadrant of the zone.
Know thy enemy
Mac also said a pitcher has to know which hitters adjust (you have to change patterns) and which hitters don’t (you can keep throwing the same stuff to him).
I asked Bruce Chen about this, and Bruce said he thought everybody adjusts. The real question is how fast. Chen studies tape to figure out if a hitter can be jammed once, and if he can be jammed once, can he be jammed twice? Or does the hitter immediately adjust to the inside pitch?
That would mean that after Bruce goes inside, the next pitch should be away. If the hitter waits until he has two strikes to adjust, Bruce can go in there again. When you get to talk to these guys, it’s always impressive to hear how meticulous their preparation can be. It might be satisfying to assume that an athlete that fails is a dope, but in my experience, that’s rarely been the case. Now if you want to assume that writers can be dopes, you’ve got a better chance of being right.
But I’m trying to adjust.
Liking the life
So I come out of the dugout, it’s about a billion degrees in the sun and the only player on the field is Eric Hosmer. He’s down the right field line, lounging on top of the tarp, a favorite hangout for players waiting for 4:30 stretching to start before 4:50 BP.
Hos has got his pants pulled up over his thighs (you’ve got to get here early to see this, but players walk around with their pants pulled up so they can stretch out the elastic in the ankles and get the nice, floppy, comfortable look that’s in vogue).
I walked up and said, “Hos, how you enjoying the life?” The “life” is the life of a major leaguer and it can be pretty sweet. We spent the next 20 minutes talking about how bad the minors can be. In the lowest levels of professional baseball, the spread (the post-game meal) can be a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. Eric said they used to each give the pitching coach a buck and he’d go buy lunch meat so they could have a treat. Hosmer said every level gets a little better: the accommodations, the spread, the travel. I asked if he ever slept in the luggage rack on a bus and he said he’s seen it, but he was too big to make it work.
Having spent some time in the big leagues, he really doesn’t want to ever go back to the minors. Now he knows that’s up here and what he’d be missing. I asked how his buddy Mike Moustakas was handling things. Moose has been struggling, but Hosmer said Moose has struggled at every level and then figured things out.
I sure hope so, a guy can only eat so much peanut butter.
And then there’s Frenchy
Hos and I are still talking when Jeff Francoeur strolls up. So I turn on him, “Frenchy, what’s up? You can hit the ball the other way!” (On Sunday, Jeff hit a double to right and pulled a home run.) Frenchy gets a huge smile, “Now why would I want to hit a double to right when I can hit a bomb to left?” At this point, Jeff has the same expression as a miner who has just heard the word gold. (I think the word I’m looking for is greedy.)
About 90 percent of Frenchy is kidding, but he admits, “It’s a really good sign that I can hit a ball that hard to right, but all power hitters get pull-happy. It depends on the guy. Like Buehrle tonight, I can’t get pull-happy with him.”
“But I will.”
I don’t know if Frenchy will lead the team in RBIs, but he’s way out in front in laughs.