Games » Chicago White SoxAug12
The hardest inning in baseball
In my never ending quest to get fans to pay attention to the seemingly routine things that win ball games when done well and lose them when done poorly, let us turn our attention to Louis Coleman. So, why Louis Coleman? Well, Jason Kendall recently told me that the hardest inning to get through is the 7th.
Here’s his reasoning: most bullpens have at least two good arms, the set-up man in the 8th and the closer in the 9th. So a starter that throws seven innings with a lead keeps everything in order: he hands the ball to the two best relievers and if they do their job, game over. When a starter fails to go seven, now the ball goes to middle relief. Lots of games are won or lost in the 6th or 7th inning when the starter leaves after five. Fans who only pay attention in the last couple of innings might be missing the most important part of the ball game.
So when Louis Coleman came into the game to start the 7th I was paying attention. Coleman only had a two-run lead, but if he got through the 7th he could turn the ball over to some combination of Crow, Holland and Soria. (On the other hand, right now, Louis might be pitching better than anyone but Holland — and Mitch Maier.) Anyway, Coleman got through the 7th inning, turned a lead over to Greg Holland, Melky hit a three-run bomb (did that make you nervous, too?) and the Royals won.
But I just wanted us to take a moment to appreciate the guy who pitched the hardest inning in baseball.
And now, criticism of Louis Coleman
You walk Juan Pierre? The guy’s hit one home run. It’s bad to walk anybody, but walking a singles hitter is even worse. A home run hitter can take you out of the park, but the worst thing a singles hitter is probably going to do is hit a single and you’re giving him that. And walking a fast singles hitter is even worse: they can turn that walk into a double with a steal. Still, nice job getting the Royals through the 7th.
Oh, and Bruce Chen gave out too many free passes also. It’s what got his pitch count up and made Louis Coleman pitch the 7th.
How defense saved two runs, maybe
Paul Konerko was the runner on both these plays and he’s playing hurt so maybe he doesn’t score anyway, but it’s good to recognize how defense prevents runs in ways that never show up in the box score.
In the 1st inning Konerko’s on second with two outs when A.J. Pierzynski hits a single to right. Two outs means the runner gets a better jump since he doesn’t have to wait to see if the ball is caught. But with Salvadore Perez behind the plate, the gimpy Konerko probably had a shorter lead at second. The White Sox watch ESPN, too, and are probably aware Perez picked off runners in Tampa Bay.
So Konerko probably gets a bad jump from a shortened lead and the ball is hit to Jeff Francoeur. Word of his arm has reached Tibetan monks in the Himalayas, so Konerko is held up at third and never scores. I realize Konerko might not have scored anyway, but having two good throwing arms, which were never used, came into play. And that will never show up in any statistic.
The other run that was prevented by good defense was in the 8th. This time Konerko scorched the ball down the left field line and Alex Gordon went sliding into the corner to cut the ball off. If it got past Gordo it was an easy double, even for Konerko. So the runner was on first instead of second. Greg Holland threw a pitch in the dirt and Salvadore Perez blocked it. Holland threw another one in the dirt and Perez blocked it again.
Do the math and Konerko would’ve been on second without Gordo’s play, on third without Perez’s first block and home without Perez’s second block. Good defense saved two runs and prevented the score from being 2-2 going into the 9th.
How the Royals lost one
I don’t like to be overly critical of third-base coaches. They’ve got one of the hardest jobs in baseball and get criticized far too much for logical decisions. But I still didn’t like Eddie Rodriguez holding up Alcides Escobar in the 7th inning. With one out Esky was on first, Gordon doubled to the left-center gap and Juan Pierre fielded the ball. Pierre does not have a strong arm and was moving laterally as he picked the ball up. He threw flat-footed from deep in the outfield and replays appeared to show Escobar touching third at about the same time.
Rushing to judgment
As I’ve said, and been told, repeatedly, it takes a while to figure out a guy’s game. Johnny Giavotella has made a good first impression with his hitting, he’s very short to the ball. (That means not much backswing, which means not very far to go to get back to the ball, which means waiting longer, which means better pitch selection.)
But we’re starting to get a more complete picture of his defense. He made two errors on a fairly routine play and may have cost Alex Gordon another outfield assist when he went for a high tag to the body of Juan Pierre instead of taking the glove to the bag and letting Pierre tag himself out.
Ned Yost, who doesn’t do that much substituting late in the game, had apparently seen enough to want Chris Getz on the field after Giavotella had his last at-bat.
That quick pitch
Speaking of rushing to judgment, bad call on that “quick pitch” ruling by home plate umpire Mike Everitt. The rule is to prevent a pitcher from delivering the ball before the batter is ready, that’s dangerous. Once the batter is set, he can’t be quick pitched. Otherwise, every slide step is a quick pitch.
Billy Butler had a dry spell in Tampa Bay and hit a bomb in Chicago. If he hits for more power that means hitting the ball out in front and if he does that it means he’ll get fooled more often and he won’t be as consistent. Get used to it, and be careful what you wish for.