Games » Cleveland IndiansSep2
The bowling ball from Hell
That was Jeff Francoeur’s response when I asked him what kind of stuff Indians starter Justin Masterson had. “The bowling ball from hell.” We were talking in the dugout before the game and Frenchy called it: if Masterson could run that heavy two-seamer in on his hands, Jeff would have a tough night. If Masterson left something down, Jeff could drop the bat head and golf it.
Twice Masterson got the pitch where he wanted it (Frenchy’s two strike outs) and once Frenchy got the pitch where he wanted it, down, and he golfed it to right for a double. These guys pretty much know what the opposition is going to attempt, after that, it’s all about execution.
I asked Alex Gordon the same thing and he said he thought lefties might have a better chance than righties against Masterson. The two-seamer that would run in on a right-hander would be running away from a left-hander and that would give him a chance to extend his arms. Turned out Alex got the extension he was looking for on a pitch down and that’s the one he hit about halfway to I-70.
Bruce Chen, on the other hand, had the opposite problem: he was up. Guys who throw hard have a better chance up in the zone (especially if they can get the pitch in on the hands) than guys who throw soft (they can’t get it in on the hands). So Bruce was up, got whacked around for five runs and that was too many runs to give to a pitcher who throws THE BOWLING BALL FROM HELL! (Sounds like a bad science fiction movie.)
Chen deserves credit for going six innings on a night he didn’t have his best command. If he’d come out of the game earlier, the Royals would have had to go to long relief and they’re holding Nate Adcock out in case he needs to take Felipe Paulino’s next start (back spasms). Bruce checks out earlier and the bullpen takes hit that could affect the rest of the series. By throwing six innings he allowed the Royals to get by with just Everett Teaford finishing up the game.
After the game, Bruce would not agree when he was asked if he didn’t have his best stuff. He said it wouldn’t be fair to the Indians (interesting, huh?). He didn’t want to use that as an excuse. Bruce said he had a game plan and they had a game plan and they executed their plan better.
Ned Yost said Everett Teaford threw really well for a guy who hadn’t thrown in 14 days (if my notes are right). Of course, Royals fans are so desperate for starting pitching, any time a guy throws well for more than one inning people start wondering if they should be in the rotation. One day I was talking with Dayton Moore and he pointed out that everyone in the bullpen had been a starter at some point and for some reason that hadn’t gone well and they ended up as a reliever. Starters need to have stamina (big is better) and enough quality pitches to go through an order three times. Generally, relievers can max out in effort knowing they’re only going one or two innings and only need two pitches since they’ll see the hitters once.
Francoeur made an outstanding play that got lost in what followed: in the first inning Kosuke Fukudome hit the ball off the right field bullpen fence on the fly and Frenchy held him to a single. Maybe people are finally taking the Royals outfield seriously.
Doug Sisson told me that Masterson, despite the slinging-arm motion was actually pretty quick to the plate and it would be difficult to steal on him. They didn’t have a lot of base runners to try it with, but they never made an attempt with the ones they had.
Doug also told me the Indian play a fairly deep outfield, especially with Shelley Duncan in left. They don’t want anything over Duncan’s head, but they pay for that on balls in front of him. You could see that when Salvador Perez scored easily from second on an Alcides Escobar single. Duncan had to go so far to get to the ball there wasn’t even a throw home. Same with Melky Cabrera’s double. Keep watching for this to come into play (although Ezequiel Carrera seemed fairly shallow in centerfield). The Royals will be more likely to take the extra base this weekend.
One more piece of information from Doug: Indians catcher Lou Marson is very good at getting rid of the ball accurately. Once again, tough to steal on. Doug said when Jarrod Dyson was here, he could go on anybody, but everybody else is a situational base stealer and has to pick their spots.
We’ve talked about this before, but Carlos Santana got his foot in the middle of first base and Alcides Escobar stepped on it. The first baseman needs to have his foot on the side of the bag or a corner, the base runner has to have somewhere to go. If Alcides can’t come back right away, you’ll probably see Chris Getz at short over the weekend.
There’s a compliment in there somewhere
I’ve been told that a lot of managers and players will claim to never read what’s written about them, but actually do. I’ve also been told that Ned Yost says he doesn’t read anything that’s written about him and really means it. So I was kind of surprised when Ned approached me and said he’d recently read my stuff for the first time.
He said it was unique, he’d said never seen anything like it, he said every team needed someone doing what I was doing and he said I was dead wrong about Salvador Perez not blocking that pitch in Hochevar’s last start. I had written that Perez didn’t go into full block mode and maybe the pitch getting past him made Luke ease up on some sliders.
Ned said it was actually a cross up (so those of you who disagreed with me were right), Sal thought he was getting a fastball and the slider movement caught him out of position. Ned also said Perez is so good at blocking that he deserves the benefit of the doubt on a play like that. Doug Sisson said the same thing: he’s seen Perez catch a lot and knew immediately that he must’ve gotten crossed up by the way he played it.
Good lesson for all of us (especially me): don’t jump to conclusions. Just about 100% of the time when I talk to the people involved, there’s more to the story than I knew. I can describe what I see and give an opinion, but it should be clear it’s an opinion.
I told Ned I appreciated finding out I was wrong (I really do, I want to get this stuff right), but it’s difficult when they’re on the road. I can’t come down to the clubhouse and ask a question. Ned said he thought I was trying to do a good thing (explain what fans are seeing) and to come to him anytime I had a question. (I’m not sure he’d enjoy answering it, but he’s willing to in the interest of explaining what the Royals are doing.) Ned then said a reporter in Detroit asked him why he had played for a tie on the road, and he thought that was a very good question. The answer? Detroit’s pen was worn out and his was fresh and he thought if he could get the game to extra innings they could win it there. (See what I mean about factors you hadn’t thought of?) These guys aren’t dopes.
Once again, we should all appreciate the Royals willingness to talk about what’s going on inside the team. This website wouldn’t be possible without their cooperation.