Games » Cleveland IndiansJul30
A note to Matt Treanor
I’m writing you this note because you sure as heck aren’t going to remember how you almost saved this ballgame … and you almost saved it twice.
Let’s start with the first time you saved a run, back in the fifth inning: Royals starter Felipe Paulino was dealing. He had his good stuff, a fastball with movement and a nasty slider. But the slider was so nasty he was burying it in the dirt.
With your team up by one run and the Indians’ Carlos Santana on second base, Cleveland’s Kosuke Fukudome was at the plate. Felipe buried the slider, and you made a great block. Otherwise, Santana would have advanced to third.
Fukudome flied out to left, and if Santana had been on third, maybe he tags and scores (I don’t know how well Carlos runs. After all, “Black Magic Woman” was a long time ago.) Then with the Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall at the plate, Paulino buried another slider and you made another great block to save it. So that time Santana definitely would have scored, had he been on third.
You guys went back into the dugout still up 1-0 because you blocked pitches in the dirt.
Then in the sixth inning, with Cleveland’s Matt LaPorta on third, the Indians’ Michael Brantley hit a fly ball to Alex Gordon in left field. The Indians challenged Alex, and for the 20th time this season, a Royals outfielder threw out a runner at the plate. Unfortunately, you got knocked O-U-T out.
The throw brought you into foul territory. Usually, you try to field the ball in fair territory with your left foot on the line. That way the runner has a place to go, the back half of the plate. This time, you ended up slightly straddling the line with your right foot. This didn’t give LaPorta much to work with, plus, you were up the line too far for him to slide.
LaPorta dropped a shoulder, and you tried to do what you told me you do on these plays: “Get small and roll with it.” Unfortunately, LaPorta’s shoulder struck your head, and you got dropped like a bad habit.
I’ve seen the giant bruise on your shin from a foul tip and the welt on your neck from a bad hop, but the most impressive tough-guy thing I’ve seen you do happened on this play. You held onto the ball.
Lights out, nobody home, and you held onto the ball for the out.
Hat’s off, pal. Get well soon.
And then the other stuff
A quality start was wasted. Paulino threw great, except for allowing two leadoff walks. Felipe had enough stuff to pitch around those mistakes, but the bullpen didn’t. Royals relievers put the leadoff man on twice. One of them scored, and the other might as well have.
With the Royals up 1-0, Royals reliever Tim Collins walked leadoff batter Lonnie Chisenhall to start the eighth inning. Chisenhall did foul off a couple hundred pitches, so Tim threw a lot of strikes, just one too few for the occasion.
Then Aaron Crow came in. There appeared to be some kind of mix-up, and Brayan Pena whiffed on a high pitch for a passed ball. Chisenhall advanced to second. (Weird, though … mix-ups usually happen with a runner on second when the team is using multiple signs. With a runner on first there shouldn’t have been much confusion.)
With two outs (almost out of the jam, but not quite), Brantley singled to right, and Jeff Francoeur made a great throw that beat Chisenhall to the plate by 5 feet. Much like the play in Texas, Brayan never got out in front of the plate, didn’t get a knee down and made a high tag allowing Chisenhall to get a foot in. As I wrote when it happened the first time, you don’t go behind the plate if you can’t handle contact, and I don’t think Pena was avoiding it. This just looks like bad mechanics. Royals manager Ned Yost said Brayan “loses proximity to the plate,” and that can’t happen.
With the score tied at 1 going into the ninth inning, Jeff Francoeur singled and stole second. Mike Moustakas bunted him over. Pena hit a fly ball to left, but it was too shallow to score Frenchy.
Then Chris Getz lofted a single out to right-center field that seemed to hang forever. When it dropped, driving in what looked to be the winning run, I said, “Thank God he didn’t get all of that.” (Chris is much better when he gets jammed, rolls over or hits the ball off the end of the bat, then his speed takes over.)
So to the ninth inning. Joakim Soria is pitching, and everything going according to the game plan, except Joakim couldn’t control his big curve. He hit one of the three people named Cabrera in this game on the foot with one of those curves. Travis Hafner then hit what looked to be a double-play ball to Getz, but Getz had some sort of double clutch.
They had Chris way over to the pull side, so he had a long throw to second anyway and the delay in throwing meant no double play. Hafner was safe on a fielder’s choice, so the inning didn’t end when Fukudome hit a fly ball to left … and you know the rest.
If I was on Twitter, I could have told you
If you’ve been reading this site all season, you probably knew Jeff Francoeur was going to steal second base in the ninth. The last time the Royals played Cleveland, I wrote that Indians pitcher Tony Sipp was slow to the plate. Sipp went over to first to see whether he could get Mike Moustakas to tip his hand at the plate.
Moose showed bunt, which you don’t want to do if you are going to bunt, so maybe it was a decoy. Frenchy stole second, and the Moose bunted him to third, forcing the Indians’ third baseman to field the ball. That’s textbook because there’s nobody left to cover third and the runner comes in unchallenged.
The Royals faced the same situation defensively in the sixth. With a runner on second and nobody out, Moustakas came in on the grass and faced Paulino, which allowed Mike to visually check the runner and the guy at the plate. If the batter bunted toward third, Paulino would have run toward the third-base line. If Felipe could have made the play, Mike would have retreated and covered the bag. Any doubt and Moose would have had to charge and make sure of an out at first. And by the way, none of this happened because the batter ended up hitting a single to centerfield.
Is hitting contagious?
No, bad pitching is. Friday night, the Royals scored 12 runs. Saturday night, they scored two. The hitters don’t all get hot one night and all forget how to hit the next. Cleveland pitcher Carlos Carrasco was bad Friday, and Justin Masterson was good Saturday.
The previous outings
Just a reminder: When pitchers go deep into games, it sets up the bullpen for the next day … and that’s a big deal. Ned could have gone to the pen early in this one (well, early for Paulino: he threw 104 pitches) because of what starters Jeff Francis and Luke Hochevar did in the previous two games. Unfortunately, going to the pen in this one didn’t work out so well in the end.
Mike Aviles was traded to the Red Sox on Saturday. He was unhappy being a utility player here, but it looks as if he’ll be a utility player in Boston. Mike never found a home defensively in Kansas City, and I wonder whether he will find one in Boston. I guess if you’re going to be unhappy, you might as well be unhappy on a first-place team.