Games » Chicago White SoxJul19
The inside story
On the third pitch of the game, Royals starter Danny Duffy drilled White Sox batter Juan Pierre with a 97 mph fastball between the shoulder blades. Pierre came around to score, so that wasn’t so hot, but letting the other guys know you will come inside isn’t such a bad thing.
Ever since the All-Star break, I’ve been hearing a lot about the need to pitch inside. The Royals are doing this, and, despite the won-loss record, we’ve been seeing some pretty good outings from the starters.
Duffy also did a great job keeping his pitch count down in five of his seven innings. By my scorebook, he threw 27 pitches in the first inning, eight in the second, 29 in the third and then never threw more than 10 pitches in an inning the rest of the way.
Duffy seems to make some kind of improvement with almost every start. That’s a very good sign.
Not waiting around
Royals catcher Matt Treanor doubled on the first pitch he saw from Chicago starter Jake Peavy. It was a fastball, and Matt said he didn’t want to fall behind Peavy and have to deal with his off-speed stuff.
Treanor’s double led to the Royals first run. Eric Hosmer had singled, went to third on the double and scored on Alcides Escobar’s groundout. In the sixth inning, the White Sox walked Hosmer to load the bases and bring Treanor to the plate again. Matt teed off on the first pitch again and drove in the winning run.
Look for hitters to be aggressive when they don’t want to fall behind a guy with nasty stuff or when there are runners in scoring position. A hitter might take pitches when he’s trying to work a walk or get the right pitch while moving a runner, but once that run is in scoring position, there’s nothing left to wait for. Turn on the fan.
The cost of doing business
The Royals lead the league in steals. On Tuesday night, the Royals lost a couple of runners on the base paths. Those two facts are related. If you’re going push the envelope on the bases, once in a while something bad will happen. And last night, it did … twice.
With Alex Gordon on second and Melky Cabrera on first, the Royals put on a double steal. Alex broke for third, but then thought Peavy was using an “inside move” (a right-handed pitcher picks up his left foot as if he’s going to throw the ball to home plate and then wheels toward second). Gordon hit the brakes, but Melky — who took off for second base when he saw Alex take off for third — was running with his head down.
The Royals ended up with two runners trying to share one base, and that usually doesn’t work so good. All of this, while regrettable, falls under the “stuff happens” category … but Melky made a mistake when he scrambled back to first.
Alex was in a rundown between second and third that Harry Houdini could not have escaped and Cabrera should have stayed at second. That would have given the Royals an at-bat with a runner in scoring position. Then in the seventh inning, Chris Getz got picked off first base after a bunt single. Chris was convinced the pitcher was to throwing to home plate, and Chris was wrong.
Before the game I spent some time with Royals first-base coach Doug Sisson, and he said an interesting thing. (OK. Doug always says interesting things, but this was more interesting than usual.) I asked him about opponents that work on stopping the running game, and Doug said more and more teams pay attention to just that.
When steroids were in the game, pitchers wanted to focus their attention on the plate. That was the guy that would hurt you. Now that guys are fueled by no more than Gatorade and Skoal, the running game is more important.
Pitchers can stop the running game, but they have to slide-step, vary their sets and throw more fastballs. That’s why the Royals are running. Even when they don’t steal successfully, the running game still helps the guy at the plate. If you never run, the pitcher can take all the time he wants to get the ball home, pitch in rhythm and throw whichever pitch he wants.
There are all these weird connections in the game. Hitters quit taking steroids, and pitchers slide-step more. Everything affects everything.
A good call
Home-plate umpire Dale Scott said Melky Cabrera struck out. Melky said he fouled the pitch off. Cabrera asked Scott to get some help, and, to his credit, Scott did. Third-base ump C.B. Bucknor agreed with Melky, and because an umpire put his ego to one side, the right call was made.
Why Getz is in the 9 hole … maybe
Nobody has told me this is why Chris Getz is back batting ninth in the Royals lineup after hitting leadoff for a while, but here is his batting average and on-base percentage when batting first, eighth and ninth:
(Those were the numbers before Monday’s game and were given to me by Jeff Montgomery. As many times as Monty struck me out in the Men’s Senior League, he owes me one.)
The difference in results is dramatic, but it raises a few questions. Is the difference due to Chris, the pitchers or the people hitting around him? Whatever it is, I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Eyes and feet
A reader was thrilled to learn that catchers check the hitter’s eyes when giving signs. The catcher wants to make sure the hitter isn’t peeking back. I asked Matt Treanor is there was anything else a catcher looks at, and he said “feet.” Hitters will take one stance and then try to creep up or change positions while the pitcher is in the windup.
There’s so much to do behind the plate, I’ve got no clue how these guys get it all done. If I have three things to do in the basement, I’ll write myself a checklist before I start … and then lose the list.