Games » Tampa Bay RaysJul22
The play that probably changed the game
Top of the first, two doubles, two walks, one run already in, bases loaded, one out and Luke Hochevar has a mess on his hands. One more hit and he’s likely down by three before the Royals even come to the plate. Hoch gets B.J. Upton to hit a fly ball to right which, most of the time, would score another run and the inning would still not be over.
Jeff Francoeur moves into right center and holds his hand up to let Melky Cabrera know he’s got this one. Frenchy lines up slightly behind where the ball is going to land, that way he’ll be moving forward when he catches the ball. The ball is caught over the throwing shoulder because that closes you up and gets you closer to the correct throwing position.
Frenchy one hops home plate (the Royals want their outfielders to one hop their throws which keeps the throws low), Matt Treanor moves up the line and makes the catch and the tag before Ben Zobrist crosses home plate.
It’s always dangerous to say this is the play that changed the game —, too many things happen to say one play made the difference — but Francoeur’s throw and Treanor’s tag sent the Royals into the dugout on a high, happy that they’d only given up one run and avoided disaster. (The Royals outfielders have now thrown 19 runners out at the plate and Jeff Francoeur leads all active outfielders with 92 assists. The guy in 2nd place has 69. You’d think the word would get around and people would quit challenging the Royals outfield.)
The 6th inning
After the first inning near-meltdown, Hochevar cruised for four innings. Going into the 6th he had a 5-1 lead, but then struggled to throw strikes. He threw Ben Zobrist three balls before working the count full and getting a fly ball out, walked Casey Kotchman on four pitches and then threw two straight balls to Evan Longoria. Matt Treanor then visited the mound. I asked Matt what was said during the visit and Treanor said he was just trying to get Luke back in the zone.
Well, it worked. On the next pitch Longoria hit a bomb. Hochevar then went 2-0 on Matt Joyce and gave up another home run. After the game Luke said he made two bad pitches while behind in the count. A pitch that you can get away with 0-0 will get smoked 2-0 because the hitter has a good idea of what’s coming.
A couple other cool plays
Jeff Francoeur hits what appears to be a sure out to left. It’s a very routine looking fly ball to left fielder Sam Fuld, who has no idea where the ball is. Neither does center fielder B.J. Upton. (After the game Alex Gordon told me that at a certain time of night, it’s easy to lose the ball and the outfielders can’t look away for a second.) What’s cool about the play is Francoeur never stopped running hard. You hit hundreds of fly balls and pop flies and run them out in the hopes that one day someone will drop one.
Frenchy’s diligence was rewarded when Mike Moustakas hit a deep fly ball to right center and Upton and right fielder Matt Joyce miscommunicated and another ball fell in. If Frenchy doesn’t run hard, he doesn’t get a double, he doesn’t score on Mike’s dropped ball and the Rays tie the game up in the 6th.
The other cool play is just one of those little things that are so easy to miss if you’re not paying very close attention. Matt Treanor is on second and Chris Getz is on first in the 7th inning. Alex Gordon hits a fly ball to center field. Treanor, not the fastest guy on the team, tags up and so does Getz. When Treanor breaks for third, Getz breaks for second. This puts B.J. Upton in a bind. If he goes for Treanor at third (not a sure thing), Getz moves into second and two runs are in scoring position. Getz’s move forces the ball to be cut and ensures Matt making it safely to third. Chris scrambled back to first once he forced the cutoff.
There was wide-spread speculation in the media (OK, I heard Robert Ford talk about it on the radio) that Rays left fielder, Sam Fuld, was hit by Luke Hochevar for injuring Alcides Escobar with a takeout slide at second. Chris Getz said he watched the replay and thought the play was clean. He said Fuld did not come in with his spikes high and went directly to the bag. Esky’s foot just got caught in a bad position.
The idea for the pivot man is to have no weight on the leg that gets taken out. They let the leg get knocked back and hop over the runner. Getz gave Esky a backhand feed on a double play ball and there wasn’t much steam on the throw. That made Esky hang at the bag to field it and meant he wasn’t ready to deal with the runner when Fuld arrived.
News on Moose
Mike Moustakas had a solid RBI single to break an zero-for-20-something slump. He also hit two more balls hard enough to be hits, but hit them right at people. After the game Moose told me he felt better and thought he was getting closer to breaking out.
A reader asked about Mike sometimes double-pumping at third before letting the ball go. Moose had a very logical explanation: if the ball is smoked, he’s waiting for Eric Hosmer to get to first, thus the double pumping. If the ball is hit weakly, Hos has time to get over and Moose lets it go right away.
Why Moose didn’t tag the base runner
In the 10th inning of Wednesday’s game with the White Sox there were two outs and a runner on second. The ball was hit to Mike Moustakas at third. The runner took off for third, Moose caught the ball and threw to first.
He’s right there, why not tag the runner?
Tagging the runner is an amateur’s move. We would want to tag the runner because it seems easier than throwing the ball to first. Pros don’t want to tag the runner because some goofy things can happen: the runner stops and gets in a rundown, knocks the ball out of your glove or somehow eludes the tag.
The sure bet is throwing the ball to first. At the major league level, that should be a routine play. Of course sometimes it doesn’t turn out to be a routine play, but it’s still a better bet than tagging the runner.
Especially with Eric Hosmer at first.
Climbing the walls
If you saw yesterday’s pregame show with Joel Goldberg and Jeff Montgomery, you know I went out to left field with Alex Gordon to talk about climbing the wall. We took a brief tour of the left field corner and then went to the bull pen fence to see if I could get my glove high enough to rob a home run from someone. Alex went up the fence like cheetah, I had all the grace of three-toed sloth…and an elderly three-toed sloth at that. (If I’m going to keep doing this stuff I really need to get in shape and have my left knee rebuilt.)
I do these videos for several reasons:
I won’t lie, they’re fun. It’s a blast to be out there with the players, trying to do what they do.
The videos are informative. I can’t do what they can do and seeing a somewhat normal human being next to these athletes gives the viewer some contrast. When I told Mitch Maier the plan to see if I could get my glove above the fence, he said I wouldn’t be able to do it. I said, “Mitch, if I could do it, why would they pay you guys so much?” Mitch conceded I had a point, and I did get my glove above the fence, but so briefly. I could never have caught a ball at the same time.
We’ll post the video as soon as we edit it to make me look better than I actually was.