Games » Boston Red Sox
Jeff Francoeur signed a contract for two more years and a gazillion dollars (I might be a little hazy on the exact amount, but it wasn’t enough to get him to lend me the money to start an old cartoonist’s home). Frenchy said the Royals had a lot of one-run losses this year (26 if I counted right) and he wanted to be here when this young team figured out how to win those games.
Well, they didn’t figure it out last night.
When you lose by one run you can find turning points all over the place that would’ve made the difference. Try these: twice the Royals pitched to Dustin Pedroia with first open and a runner in scoring position, twice he drove in the run. I know the Royals wanted to pitch to the right-handed Pedroia as opposed to the left-handed Josh Reddick, but Josh Reddick does not have an MVP trophy.
One of the runs that Pedroia knocked in was Jacoby Ellsbury who got on by a walk. There’s a reason “walks scored” loses a pitcher points in our system.
Jeff Francoeur hit a ball into the teeth of the wind (and there’s a cliché that makes no sense) and it might’ve left the park on another night. Tim Bogar, the Red Sox third base coach, told me after the game that the Royals would’ve won the game had it been played in Fenway: Francoeur’s ball would’ve cleared the Green Monster.
So change any of these events and the Royals win. They were that close to beating the Red Sox. If you need encouragement (and who doesn’t, the Royals are in last place) think of this: they’ve lost 26 one-run games. If they could’ve won half those one run games, they’d be 65-60 and battling for first place.
Jeff Francoeur thinks the Royals will learn to win those games, but it didn’t happen last night.
That play at the plate
When the Royals outfielders throw yet another base runner out, people ask, “Doesn’t the other team know how good these guys are?” Well, the guy that sent the runner knows. Before the game Tim Bogar made a couple videos with me and in one of them talks about how good the Royals outfielders are.
So why send the runner?
Because sometimes, that’s still your best bet. Bogie said he told Carl Crawford to tag even though Melky Cabrera did everything but a few jumping jacks to limber up while waiting for the ball to come down. Melky actually stretched, backed up and then got a running start so he caught the ball on the fly. Bogie said the Sox have been struggling to score and decided to risk it. The throw was on line and Crawford was called out, even though Salvador Perez never actually tagged Crawford. Perez caught the ball and turned his shoulder to cushion the impact and neglected to put the tag on Carl. The umpire was shielded from seeing the play and the Royals got the call.
Bogar then pointed out that sending the runner paid off later in the game when Melky had to make another throw to the plate, rushed it and the throw was off-line. Tim said there’s no way of knowing for sure, but having been aggressive about sending runners once, Cabrera would probably be in a hurry on the next throw.
And speaking of throwing
Salvador Perez didn’t throw out any base stealers and there were a lot of them. So what gives?
It might be that when Luke Hochevar went to the slide step, his bottom half got out in front of his top half. The point of the slide step is to get the foot down quickly and if the arm is still on the full windup timing, it’s late. Then the ball goes high, which is what appeared to be happening when Luke sped up his delivery.
So when Hochevar went back to lifting his foot to its normal height in an effort to throw strikes, he was slow to the plate and Perez had no chance to throw out base runners.
That shallow Yankee outfield
Oh, yeah: remember Billy Butler scoring from first on Eric Hosmer’s double when the Yankees were in town? That was another effect of the Yankee outfield playing shallow. Once the ball got past them they had a long way to run. So, sorry, Billy didn’t suddenly get faster.
One of the cool things about baseball
Derek Jeter arrived at third the other night and had a conversation with Mike Moustakas in the middle of the game. Jeter told Moose that he was going to be a great player, but what was done was done, quit worrying about his numbers and Mike should just try to hit .300 the rest of the way.
Moose went out and got three hits. Kevin Seitzer told me that story and said that was why Jeter was such a class act and a great ambassador for the game. Seitz said he could’ve said the same thing, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact. Hearing that from Derek Jeter meant something to Mike Moustakas.
I repeated that story to Tim Bogar, and Bogie said Ozzie Smith did the same thing for him. Tim hit a double in St. Louis, Ozzie walked up, patted him on the butt and said, “Nice hit, kid, keep it up and you’ll be here awhile.” Tim said he knew he was a good player, he was in the big leagues, but hearing it from a boyhood idol meant a lot. It meant he belonged.
The game is so hard and the season so long that other players know what it’s like to struggle, everybody does at some point. To show compassion to an opponent, to encourage a foe is a tradition. And one of the cool things about baseball.
Bogar was also impressed with the early work the Royals were doing. He said with a team this young they still need to be taught baseball and mentioned Jeff Francoeur (the-just-signed-a-multi-million-dollar-contract Jeff Francoeur) running base running drills with everybody else. That’s leadership by example.
There are several themes that have developed on this website and one of them is take everything with a grain of salt.
If you watched Mitch Maier’s video about pitching to the Boston Red Sox (you think they’ll bring him in to face Varitek?) you know that MLB.com got most of his pitches wrong. It wasn’t just that his fastballs registered as changeups, they also said he has a knuckleball and a slider. He doesn’t and he doesn’t.
Like any job (and it’s probably true of yours, too) when you’re on the inside, you see the cracks in the façade: the scorekeeping is open to debate, the radar gun can be inaccurate, the defensive ratings are guesstimates and what I’m doing is no better.
It’s all a little less scientific than we’d like you to believe. It doesn’t mean there isn’t real information in there, but mixed in with some educated guesswork. It’s good for us all to keep that in mind.
Royals first base coach Doug Sisson keeps a card in his back pocket. On the front is the opposing pitcher’s name, how long it takes him to deliver a ball home with a runner on first, how long it takes him to deliver the ball home with a runner on second and the visual keys the runners use to tell if the pitcher is going home when they’re on first and when they’re on second.
When a runner arrives at first Doug will lean in and say something like, “1.3, shoulder” as a reminder to the runner of the pitcher’s deliver time and the body part the runner should key on.
On the back of the card is the outfield positioning for each opposing hitter. It lists positioning against a right handed pitcher, a lefty and how they might reposition themselves once the hitter has two strikes and will be more likely to go the other way.
I sure hope you guys appreciate all the cool information Doug has shared with us this season. I know I do.