Games » Boston Red SoxAug21
A bad finish, but a quality start
Maybe someday soon we won’t have to sit around, talk about a loss and look for the silver lining, but today ain’t that day.
At least there actually is a silver lining: Danny Duffy’s quality start on Sunday. Six innings pitched, two earned runs. Before the game — and when I say before the game, I mean the day before the game —(it’s a tradition in baseball that no one talks to the starter on game day unless he talks to you first), I asked Danny what adjustments he was going to make before he took the mound against the Red Sox on Sunday.
Danny said he planned to add and subtract a bit more on his fastball. He wanted to avoid throwing as hard as he could on every pitch and instead run one fastball up at 92 mph and the next one at 96. That was what he did, and you could see the results.
Most of the damage came on two pitches: a 78 mph curve to Jason Varitek and a 94 mph fastball to Darnell McDonald. Varitek tripled, driving in Jed Lowrie, McDonald homered, driving in Darnell McDonald.
I was sitting with Jeff Montgomery when Varitek tripled, and I asked Monty if the 1-2 curve to Varitek was a mistake. Jason had swung through one fastball for strike one and had taken another fastball for strike two. Should Danny have stayed with the heat? Monty said he thought the curve was OK pitch selection, but the pitch execution wasn’t what it should have been. Danny hung the pitch, and Jason whacked it.
So yet another Royals loss, but Danny Duffy took a step forward in this game, using another weapon in his arsenal: the ability to add and subtract on his fastball. So maybe next season we will not only see quality starts, but some quality finishes.
An outstanding defensive play that was easy to miss
When a defender makes a diving stop or spectacular throw, everybody cheers. Let a defender run a good route in the outfield, and it usually goes unnoticed. In the fourth inning Darnell McDonald hit what looked to be a double in left-center gap. Center fielder Melky Cabrera ran a good route and turned it into a single.
Here’s how to spot a good route. The ball looks like extra bases, but the outfielder runs hard and gets deeper than the ball. He then turns back toward the infield and catches the ball with momentum headed toward the base he has to throw to.
If the outfielder is lazy, he will go laterally to the ball (the shortest, easiest route) and field the ball moving away from the infield. When the runner sees a player’s number (his back), he can advance. When a runner sees the team name on an outfielder’s jersey (his front), he has to think twice.
Melky ran hard and limited a double to a single. I thought it was worth noting.
Nobody out. Runner on second. Where should the third baseman stand? Well, it depends on what you think the other team wants to do. Teams have signs that tell the hitter to move the runner over and signs that tell the hitter to attempt to drive the runner in.
If you think the hitter will attempt to drive the run in himself, the third baseman is positioned to play against swinging away. If you think the hitter will try to move the runner over, the third baseman has to come in for the bunt. If the hitter is going to move the runner over by swinging away, he’s going to hit the ball to the right side so the third baseman can play in.
So here’s the rule of thumb for the next time you see this situation: If it’s a good hitter, the third baseman might want to play back, but if the run’s important and the hitter is a bottom-of-the-order type, the third baseman needs to be in.
Who’s out there?
Hey, all we need is a couple of starting pitchers. Let’s go get one! OK, that’s easy to say, but who’s out there? According to Robert Ford of 610 Radio, not much of anybody. Robert is much more informed than I am on these issues, and he says he looked into it and there won’t be much pitching on the market in 2012. He also says the next season looks a bit better. But it’s good to remember it’s not as simple as us spending someone else’s money. There needs to be someone to spend it on.
Check the minor-league standings when you think about September call-ups. If a minor-league affiliate is in contention for the playoffs, key players may not come up to the big-league club. It’s bad for the fans in those towns for the team to jerk away the best players at just the wrong moment. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but sometimes it is a factor in who gets called up in September.
Hosmer and the short hop
First baseman Eric Hosmer uses a fairly dramatic swipe of the mitt to pick up short hops. I’ve seen it taught differently, but Hos was making it work. So if ain’t broke, etc. But lately he’s had a couple of balls get away from him, and the big swipe has knocked the balls quite a ways away from him.
I asked Royals infield coach Eddie Rodriguez if there was any plan to modify Eric’s approach. Eddie said the problem was Hosmer’s head, not his mitt. As Eddie explained it, when Eric’s head stays down, the swipe is smaller. When Eric’s head comes up, the swipe gets big.
Just something to watch for in the future.
The unreadable autograph
Jeff Francoeur was signing a couple of boxes of baseballs, and I took a look at what he was doing and immediately started making fun of him. “Dude, that’s not an autograph.”
“Sure it is,” Frenchy said. “Big ‘J.’ Big “F.’ Little squiggles. No. 21.”
“How long had you been a pro ballplayer before you changed your signature?” I asked.
“When I signed my first four baseballs, and it took five minutes.” I had never thought of the time factor before. Players are asked to sign 10 dozen balls at the beginning of spring training to be used for charity, and that’s just the beginning. I asked Frenchy how many baseballs he signs in a year, and he said he had no idea. But next year we should count. Mike Moustakas talked about autograph sessions where he would be asked to sign items and the sessions would go on for hours.
Jeff said that when he would walk out of the stadium after a game, 40 kids would want an autograph, and he needed to come up with something that could be reproduced quickly. When so many people want an autograph, there’s pressure on the players to provide one in a short amount of time.
So if you can’t read that autograph, it’s kinda our fault.
Red Sox coach Tim Bogar's thoughts on Royals
Red Sox third-base coach Tim Bogar shares his thoughts on the future of the Royals with The Star's Lee Judge. 8/19/11 (Video by John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)