Games » Toronto Blue JaysAug25
The importance of tack-on runs
Ask any baseball team in the world and they’d take a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the 6th inning. But there can be a problem: teams that get a big lead early, sometimes go to sleep. They feel like the game is won and lose focus. Hitters start sleepwalking through their at-bats, pitchers don’t bear down on every pitch and defenders are just going through the motions.
Play like that long enough and you’ll let the other team back in the game.
This gets us to the importance of tack-on runs. Winning teams learn a killer mentality. If they get you down, they step on your throat. They don’t let you back in the game with sloppy play. Once you get the reputation for this kind of play, you can form the expectation of defeat in your opponent’s mind. If you’re this kind of team, get up by five and the other team believes they can’t come back and now they start going through the motions.
The Royals do not have the reputation for having that killer mentality yet. But this game took them a bit closer. After getting up by five, the Royals tacked on four more. Two in the 8th when Billy Butler hit a two-run, two-out double and two more in the 9th when Mike Moustakas took advantage of a dropped foul ball and drove in Jeff Francoeur from first. Then Mike advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a Mitch Maier sacrifice fly (which doesn’t do it justice, Mitch smoked that ball).
I don’t know what Ned Yost or the rest of the Royals think, but to me, if a team can learn to bear down all the time, work hard all the time, keep trying to tack-on runs no matter the score, they’ve got a much better chance of winning.
Especially if Soria is going to give up two runs in the 9th.
Yes, Soria gave up two runs in the 9th
I couldn’t venture a worthwhile opinion about stuff (velocity, movement), but you can see Joakim struggle with location. On the other hand, Jack doesn’t do it all the time: he’ll be all over the place for a batter and then sharp as a tack on the next guy. Somebody smarter than me will have to figure out what’s up with that. I can’t.
The seventh inning
Remember Jason Kendall’s warning that the 7th inning can be the toughest inning in baseball? After the Royals had a long inning (34 pitches and a coaching visit) in the top of the 6th, I wondered how Francis would handle the bottom of the inning. He had a long wait before facing Jose Bautista to lead off the inning. When Bautista doubled I thought, “Uh-oh, here we go”, but Francis pulled it together, struck out two and stranded the run at second.
When the same thing happened in the top of the 7th (21 pitches and a pitching change) I wondered how Francis would handle that delay. The answer: single, home run, single and his night was done. Ned Yost didn’t want him facing the top of the lineup a fourth time and pulled him for Greg Holland.
Couple of things for fans to focus on there: Starting pitchers will generally throw five innings unless they’re getting absolutely shelled and it’s hard for many teams to come up with more than two shutdown innings from their pen. So what happens between the 5th and 8th innings often determines the outcome of the game. Also, a lot of managers will get a little nervous when pitchers start going through the order the third and fourth times and will start looking for signs of fatigue or lack of effectiveness.
Patience is a virtue
Once again we have an example of why fans need to show patience: Mike Moustakas is hitting the ball all over the yard. He smoked a ball down the left field line Wednesday night that should’ve been a double and ripped another double to right in this game.
It doesn’t mean his troubles are totally over, ballplayers get hot and cool down, get hot and cool down. The good ones just stay hot longer. But it does mean Moose is showing that he can do it at this level. Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar and now Mike Moustakas are showing fans that they need to be patient. This is the hardest league in the world and it takes some people longer than others to adjust. Just think how Royals fans would feel if the team had given up on Gordon and he went somewhere else and the year he’s having now.
Patience is a virtue and pretty smart baseball.
Blue Jay way
The Royals got two hits (a Mike Moustakas single and a Billy Butler double) when Blue Jays outfielders did not take charge on pop-ups behind the infield. Eric Thames and Jose Bautista pulled up and let the infielders try to make the play. Outfielders are supposed to take charge because they’re moving forward and infielders are moving back (which is much more difficult).
Seeing those plays reminded me that we haven’t seen that kind of stuff from the Royals outfield this season. Just one more sign of the team’s improved fundamentals.
A few other things
Johnny Giavotella dropped a throw from Melky Cabrera that might’ve nailed an advancing runner. The Royals are working on softening Johnny’s hands and we may have seen an example of why it’s necessary.
Melky Cabrera didn’t tag up from third in the 6th inning on Eric Hosmer’s fly ball to left. I thought he might risk it because Eric Thames was moving sideways when he made the catch. Although Thames was fairly close to the infield and I don’t know his throwing reputation. Hits by Francouer and Salvador Perez got two runs in anyway.
Jeff Francis had his family sitting behind the dugout, which was a little surprising. Players often want their families behind the screen. Maybe Jeff’s family is a little more athletic than most, but if you get those cool right-behind-the-dugout seats: pay attention. Those balls get there in a hurry.
Jeff Francoeur got absolutely smoked right below the knee by a pitch. He must’ve been getting treatment before he left the dugout because he had his pants pulled up and you could see the wicked bruise that was already forming. The players thought it was pretty hilarious when I got hit by that pitch, but they also appreciated me showing the incredible bruise I got afterwards. They get hit like that all the time, but can’t come out and show us the bruises and scrapes they have to play with daily. Jeff, I know just how you feel. (Except I didn’t have to play the next day.)