Games » Tampa Bay RaysAug8
Two key moments
In the 7th inning, Luke Hochevar issued his first walk of the game to Ben Zobrist. Then, with Casey Kotchman batting, Hoch threw a pitch in the dirt. Manny Pina reached for the ball instead of blocking the pitch, it got to the backstop and Zobrist was on second. Kotchman then hit a single and Zobrist scored the tying run.
If Pina makes a better effort, Hochevar has runners at first and third and maybe he gets out of the inning and it’s Soria in the 9th instead of Blake Wood. In one-run games *everything * is important, including blocking pitches with a runner on first.
The other key moment from this game was Eddie Rodriguez’ 8th-inning decision to hold Chris Getz at third on an error at first. Jeff Francoeur had lined out to third with runners on first and second and Evan Longoria tried to double off Eric Hosmer at first. The ball got away and, even though Getz had to go back to second to tag up, it looked like he had a chance if he’d tried for home.
The Rays first baseman, Casey Kotchman, is left-handed, throws from lefties tend to tail to the left (which would draw the catcher away from the plate, and did) and there were two outs, time to push it. (You could see Frenchy waving Chris home, so I guess he agreed.) A perfect throw nails Getz, but when runs and hits are hard to come by, you need to push it on the base paths. The Royals didn’t and paid the price when Johnny Giavotella popped out to end the inning.
Once again, if they score that run, Joakim Soria is in for the 9th inning and the save. Winning the first game of the series is a big deal. Teams want to play at least .500 on the road and win at home. In a four-game series, win the first game and you’re thinking, hey, we just need to go one out of three to have a good series against the Rays. Now, because of a couple small things that didn’t happen, the Royals are looking at winning two out of three just to break even.
The low tag
If you watched Sunday’s pregame show or read the earlier posting, you know we discussed Brayan Pena missing two outs at the plate this season when the throw beat the runner to the plate, but Brayan made a high tag.
I asked Matt Treanor about this play and he said the umpires used to give you that one. If the throw beat the runner and the runner snuck his foot in, they’d still give you the out. Now the umps want to clearly see you make the tag before the foot hits the bag.
No way of knowing, but it seems like, once again, instant replay may have changed the game.
OK, you know the baseball superstition where you don’t change anything as long as you’re going good? Well, it’s causing a problem in the Royals clubhouse. Alex Gordon is having the year of his life right now so he’s worn the same hat all season.
The same dirty, stinky, filthy, disgusting, smelly hat all season.
It smells so bad Jeff Francoeur is threatening to move his locker if Gordon doesn’t go something about it. Alex has offered a compromise: he’ll wear a different hat during batting practice so the gamer doesn’t absorb any more sweat than it has to, but I don’t know if Frenchy’s buying.
Stay tuned and I’ll let you know of any breaking news on the smelly hat negotiations.
Last Saturday night Alcides Escobar did it again, turned what looked like a sure hit, into an out. The play had everyone talking about Esky’s glove so I decided to do some investigative journalism and here it is, Esky’s Glove:
Alcides Escobar uses an 11½-inch glove, which is surprisingly big for a middle infielder. (Gloves are measured from the first finger top — not the thumb — to the bottom edge. Outfielders will use 12½- to 13-inch gloves, third baseman and pitchers use a lot of 12-inch gloves and middle infielders often go with something around 11 inches.
When I commented on the size of the glove, Esky pointed out the webbing between the fingers and how he had really cinched it down so the glove played smaller. Now this is really useless information unless you’re in a sports bar and Escobar makes a great play and you say (with a knowing air), “He uses and 11½-inch glove, but he cinches it down and it plays like an 11.”
Tomorrow, we’ll work on pick-up lines.
Tearing it up
If you stuck round long enough after Sunday’s game you saw the grounds crew tearing up the infield. Apparently we see three different infields during a season. They start with blue grass (which likes colder weather), go the rye for the heat and then switch back to blue grass. (Or maybe it’s the exact opposite, I made notes, but left them at work.)
In any case, when the Royals get back the infield grass, the sidelines and 15 feet of the outfield that’s behind the infield will be new.
So the grass really is greener on the other side of a road trip.
(Man, that was a lot of work for a bad joke.)
Royals Mitch Maier relives being a pitcher for a day with Lee Judge
Kansas City Royals outfielder Mitch Maier was recently called on to be a relief pitcher, and the Star's Lee Judge finds out what Maier was thinking about when he took the mound. August 6, 2011 (Video by John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)