Games » New York YankeesAug17
The bad calls even out
If you’re one of those people who thought that Royals pitchers were getting squeezed by the home-plate umpires in this series, quit complaining. The bad calls evened out. The ball that Billy Butler hit in the third inning on Wednesday night was not a home run, and the umpires blew the call, even with instant replay.
Here’s the deal: There’s a pad on top of the scoreboard in the outfield wall. That pad creates a ledge. Set back a bit is a short fence, which is topped by a padded railing. Behind that railing is another railing, which is designed to keep fans from leaning over the first railing. (And if you think this all sounds confusing, it is. There’s no clear home-run line, and you’re staring into the brightly lit scoreboards while trying to see where the ball hit.)
Confusing design aside, a ball has to clear the first padded railing to be a home run. Billy’s ball hit the pad on top of the scoreboard, bounced up and hit the padded railing and came back on the field. The ball was in play the entire time. An umpire signaled home run, Billy ran the bases. The Yankees went through the motions, tagged Billy between second base and third and then asked for a review.
The umpires went inside to look at the replay. Billy stood on the dugout steps, holding his helmet in case he had to come out and run the bases again. When the umpires came back on the field and signaled a home run, the Royals (at least the guys I talked to) were surprised. They said they thought the original call would be overturned. That’s why on TV you saw pitcher Danny Duffy burst out laughing at the call.
So if you’re going to get squeezed because you’re Danny Duffy and you’re throwing to Mr. Jeter, the least the umpires can do is even things out a bit.
Last night they did.
Details of the game
Alex Gordon hit a three-run bomb on a pitch he later said he was simply trying to get in play. Don’t overlook another big play that Alex made: not throwing home in the ninth inning on Robinson Cano’s sacrifice fly. Derek Jeter was on third base. Jeter tagged up and headed home to make the score 5-4.
Instead of letting his ego get the better of him, Alex made the smart throw and went to third base, which kept the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson from advancing from second. A passed ball later, and Gordo’s decision looks even better. Instead of being on third and scoring on the passed ball, Granderson advanced to third on the passed ball and was stranded there after Jorge Posada struck out to end the game.
After the game, Gordon said he had airmailed a throw home the night before and he didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. That’s a ballplayer getting better.
Which brings up an interesting note: Because the team is so young, I’ve asked around about clubhouse leaders. Who displays leadership? Who keeps the young guys in line and teaches them the game? Without prompting, several different people have named Gordon. Jeff Francoeur is vocal and gets a lot of attention. When Jason Kendall was there, he got lots of respect. But everybody says the same thing about Alex: He leads by example, he plays hard, he works hard and is extremely mentally tough.
People say the young players could not do better than to watch Alex and emulate his approach.
After Royals starter Bruce Chen threw 33 pitches in the first inning, I thought he was a goner. I figured the Yankees were going to work their voodoo, take a zillion pitches and get Bruce out of the game before the fifth inning. Chen then came back with a nine-pitch second inning (if I counted right), stayed in the game for six innings, got a quality start and a win. We walked out of the clubhouse together, and I asked him what changed after the first inning.
Bruce started laughing and said, “I threw more strikes.”
Wow, the secrets you learn when you’re on the inside, huh?
Another inside tip
Second basemen Chris Getz and I shot a video up on the Little K and it was hot as … Well, I can’t tell you the word Chris used to describe the heat, but it was inventive. Anyway, I was wearing a black T-shirt and smoking. I was asked why I wore black and said, “I thought it would look good.”
Getzie said, “You can’t wear gray,” which made me think I should pass this fashion tip along: Do not wear the color of the other team to the stadium. Think about who the Royals are playing and make sure you wear blue or a neutral color. If you show up in the other team’s color, even unintentionally, the players, should you talk to any of them, will give you a hard time about it.
And you might not get that baseball signed.
Moose didn’t miss
Everyone agrees that the key to hitting is not missing mistakes. If you get a hittable fastball or a hung curve, smoke it. The Royals’ Mike Moustakas has been getting those pitches and missing them. Last night, he got them and didn’t. That’s the difference.
The shallowest outfield in baseball
Royals first-base coach Doug Sisson said Robinson Cano’s 12-pitch at-bat Tuesday night might have been the best at-bat he had ever seen, mainly because it ended with a three-run home run. Sisson also agreed that the key moment in that inning was the Brett Gardner bunt that I wrote about yesterday. “All the momentum in this dugout went over to that dugout,” Sisson said.
Then he pointed out something interesting: The Yankees play the shallowest outfield in baseball. That was why Escobar could hit a triple to left-center field. The Yankees’ outfielders had a long run to get there. That’s why Frenchy’s double could hang up so long and still not get caught.
It’s the Yankees’ philosophy: If our pitcher makes a good pitch and jams someone for a flare, we’re getting an out. If the hitter smokes one, tip your cap. Doug told me that the Seattle Mariners take the opposite philosophy. The Mariners play deep. They want to make you beat them with three singles, not extra-base hits.
So right now I’m thinking, “Why didn’t you ask Doug the Royals’ philosophy?” I’m guessing the Royals are somewhere in between the two extremes, but I’ll have to ask Doug tomorrow.
One more thing
Doug told me that the game plan on Jeter was to throw him inside fastballs and have him inside-out the ball to Francoeur. Any mistake with an off-speed pitch and Jeter could pull the ball to where the defense wasn’t. And that was what happened on the slider he hit for a double in the fourth inning.
The other three hits Jeter got because he’s just stinking good. (He had nine hits this series to add to the 3,000-plus he already had. And he’s overrated?)
Red Sox third-base coach and longtime friend Tim Bogar is back in town, so be patient. If the posting from the previous night’s game is not online when you check in the morning, you know Bogie and I went out the night before.
In fact, you probably can measure how good a time I had by how long it takes me to get the game posted. I’ll be shooting for noon.