Games » Chicago White SoxSep15
The killer instinct
The Kansas City Star
Mike Moustakas says that even though most everyone agrees that the Royals are steadily getting better, they still need to find the ability to finish off teams in close games, score tack-on runs and win games when they get out to an early lead.
Tonight, the Royals showed that “killer instinct”, getting ahead on Mark Buehrle quickly and continuing to tack on runs throughout the night. It was one of the best games I’ve seen all year, and the team really looked strong.
Francis and the 1st
Jeff Francis often struggles in the 1st inning, and that has come to be the gauge for judging Francis’ performance – how quickly and cleanly he can get through the first. Tonight, he faced the Sox’s best hitter, Paul Konerko, with a runner on first base and one down – if something bad was going to happen, this would probably be it.
Francis came down and in on the first two pitches, which Konerko ripped foul, then went up and away. He missed twice, pushing the count to 2-2, and then placed a nice low changeup right on the outside corner to get Konerko to ground into a double play. Jeff got through the first inning and never looked back.
That is, until the 6th
Francis’ stuff looked good all night and despite a few singles from A.J. Pierzynski and a run scored on a sac fly in the 3rd, he was cruising. He largely stuck to a nice combination of low changeups and high moving fastballs that got him a lot of groundouts and popups. Then he hit the sixth inning.
Konerko came up and hit a single, then Rios, then Pierzynski. Each was hit on a breaking pitch that stayed up and out over the plate, and if it wasn’t for Konerko clogging up the basepaths, Francis easily could have given up his two run lead right there.
Francis was now in trouble, with no outs and the bases loaded, facing Dayan Viciedo at the plate. He couldn’t afford to make any mistakes, and then, what do you know – he left an 83-mph 4-seamer right over the heart of the plate. Fortunately for Jeff, Viciedo was set to take and watched it go right by him. In a game this close and with Konerko on third, Viciedo probably should have swung at the first pitch that looked like it had some outfield potential. But he didn’t and instead flew out to Alex two pitches later, setting up two more flyouts to get Francis out of the inning with his lead intact.
Speaking of which: Frenchy?
On the one-out sac fly by Tyler Flowers to bring Konerko home in the 6th, Jeff Francoeur caught the ball in right and threw behind Konerko to try to get Rios at third, which didn’t work. I know it’s the smart move to throw behind the lead runner and keep everyone else from advancing, but in a two-run game, and with the combination of Frenchy’s throwing strength and Konerko’s lack of speed coming off third, I was surprised to not see him get in his “Frenchy Overdrive” mode and fire off a strike towards home. It ended up not really mattering, and I’m not saying he made a mistake at all, but I will ask him what he saw to make him go to third instead of home when I am back in town on Saturday.
The Royals have had a major surge in offense in their current five-game winning streak, and tonight was no exception. Billy absolutely blasted his three-run homer in the bottom of the 6th that tore this game wide open, and Melky did his usual Superman thing and went 4 for 5, just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. But one of the Royals’ hottest bats in this winning streak is that of Salvador Perez, who hit a nice single, a freak triple and a great double in the third inning. The 2-1 pitch from Buehrle was inside but hittable, and Perez got the bat head around it, driving it deep into the left center gap.
If Perez can keep improving along with Moustakas and Escobar, suddenly the bottom three of the order doesn’t look too shabby at all.
Why Can’t Yamaico Help Me Out?
Well, I kept attempting to prove a point to myself that Yamaico Navarro was making some key mistakes at the plate. In the bottom of the 5th, he came up with two outs, runners on first and second. He worked to a 3-0 count against Buehrle, who at the time was losing 3-1 and was looking like the game was slipping away from him. Buehrle threw a batting practice fastball right down the middle, and Yamaico watched it go by. I wanted to blast him for not ripping the cover off a ball that everyone in the stadium knew would be coming right over the plate. Next pitch, though, he hit a nice single to left and drove Hosmer in on Juan Pierre’s weak arm. Same thing happened in the 7th – he took a bad hack at a 3-1 pitch that was very hittable, but came back on the next pitch and hit a sac fly to drive in Perez after his triple.
In a backward way, Yamaico taught me something useful to remember for both fans and media – DON’T decide what happens in the game until you have WATCHED THE WHOLE GAME. I was ready to say that Yamaico didn’t look very developed at the plate and was making fundamental mistakes that would shine through in his game eventually. But both times he proved me wrong. Makes me wonder if, I don’t know, he knows more about the game than I do?
Submitted by Paul Judge
If you get into the stadium in time to see any of the Royals batting practice, you might notice that Alex Gordon is wearing a different hat than everyone else. I’ve written about this before, but this is the compromise Alex, Mitch Maier and Jeff Francoeur decided on.
Alex has been wearing the same hat since opening day (he’s having a good year and can’t change anything) and his hat’s disgusting. It smells so bad Frenchy is threatening to move his locker if Alex doesn’t do something about it. Gordo agreed to wear a different hat during BP so he wouldn’t add even more sweat to his game hat. I don’t know what you do with this information, but if you notice he’s the only one with a different hat, now you know why.
Submitted by Lee Judge