Games » Detroit TigersSep21
A hypothetical question
The Kansas City Star
After the game, I asked Ned Yost whether Greg Holland would have pitched the eighth inning if Joakim Soria had been available to pitch the ninth. Ned said, “Probably.” Then he added that if Mariano Rivera were on the Royals, Soria would have pitched the eighth and Holland would have pitched the seventh. By that point, Ned was laughing, and so was I.
Ned’s point being: Soria wasn’t available, so what’s the point?
Well, this: People come to games and sometimes don’t know what happened the day before or what’s going to happen the day after. They do know they would like to see the Royals win that night. So if you were sitting in the stands at the last Royals home game and wondered who the heck this Herrera guy was and why he was pitching in a tie ball game, here’s the answer.
Starter Felipe Paulino had command issues and ran up his pitch count. He threw pretty well, but after five innings had thrown 103 pitches. In the sixth, Ned brought in Tim Collins to face Jhonny Peralta, left-handed Andy Dirks and switch-hitting Ramon Santiago. Peralta got a hit, Dirks was safe on a fielder’s choice and Santiago struck out.
Ned then went to the pen for a right-hander to face Brandon Inge to end the inning. Ned had used Blake Wood for two innings on Tuesday night, so he went to Louis Coleman. Coleman got Inge and started the seventh inning but had the tying run on second with two outs when Ned decided to bring in Aaron Crow to try to get out of the situation. Crow also had control issues, bouncing a couple pitches, and he gave up a couple singles and the lead.
Ned didn’t think Crow looked sharp, so he went back to the pen for the eighth. And that’s why I asked the question: If Soria had been available, Holland probably would have come out for the eighth. But neither Jack nor Mariano was available, so Ned had run through his list of the guys who usually pitch in these situations.
And that’s why you saw Kelvin Herrera make his major-league debut, which did not go well. There’s always a reason for what you see out at the ballpark, and I thought it worth explaining why you saw a rookie pitching in a tie game in the eighth inning.
• Jeff Francoeur saw seven straight fastballs from Detroit closer Jose Valverde and struck out on the last pitch. So how did Valverde get away with throwing seven fastballs to Frenchy? Because they were not all the same fastball. Some ran in on Jeff, and others ran away. The pitches may look straight from the stands, but they’re not.
• It could have been worse. Catcher Salvador Perez saved at least two runs in this game: once by jumping out from behind home plate on an attempted bunt and gunning the lead runner at third, and again by blocking a pitch in the dirt with a runner on third.
• Melky Cabrera got heads-up base running points for ignoring third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez’s stop sign in the sixth inning. Melky was coming into third with no one out. Eddie threw up the sign as Tigers right-fielder Ryan Raburn booted Billy Butler’s single. At that point, the runner is on his own. There’s not time for the coach to see the play, change the sign and get the runner going again. Melky read it correctly and scored standing up.
• When a runner gets thrown out by a Royals outfielder, people ask whether the other team hasn’t been paying attention. The Tigers clearly have. Twice a runner did not advance on balls hit to Jeff Francoeur.
• Two Detroit batters walked and later scored, and another was hit by pitch and scored — and the Royals lost by … drum roll, please … three runs.
Getz and 2012
Chris says he would like to return to the Royals (we talked about what a pain it is to go to a new job and try to figure out who’s who). Chris said he would embrace the role of utility player if that’s what the Royals ask him to do. He has been working out at shortstop and says he’s getting more comfortable with the position.
Getzie was working at short the other day, taking grounders and Eddie Rodriguez was hitting them off flips from John Wathan. Eddie says the balls that come off the bat from flips (a ball flipped underhand to the hitter) are more realistic than balls hit from fungos. (Who knew?)
Anyway, Chris would like to be back in 2012.
After batting practice, I got a few minutes with pitching coach Bob McClure, and he confirmed that Luis Mendoza was trying to get through the Detroit lineup the first time Tuesday night with as many fastballs as possible. I told Mac I had noticed Luis threw off-speed stuff the first time through the order, but only to lefties. Mac said that was right. Mendoza has a fastball that cuts in on right-handers, but he had to add off-speed to the mix when facing left-handers.
Leyland’s in charge
I was told that Tigers manager Jim Leyland does not delegate parts of the game to other coaches while the game is on. He’s on the top step, making the calls, pitch by pitch. I also was told that you could see White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen mailing it in during Chicago’s last series against the Royals, ignoring the game and holding court in the dugout.
Leyland’s about 120 years old (that number may be wrong), but he’s still out there hitting fungos during early work. And any guy that lit up Barry Bonds for being a jerk is OK in my book.
Speaking of early work
A Detroit coach was throwing early BP to hitters and calling out situations before each pitch, runner on third, infield back and so on. It was amazing how often the hitter delivered the right kind of ball in play for the situation. When you see these guys come through in the clutch, it ain’t an accident. They prepared for the moment.
A 5-5-3 in your scorebook
Third baseman Mike Moustakas got as laser beam hit at him in the fourth inning by Jhonny Peralta. Moose tried to backhand it, and the ball glanced off his glove and shot straight up in the air. Mike grabbed it with his bare hand and threw to first baseman Eric Hosmer, who picked the short hop.
Coincidentally, the day before Mike and I had talked about plays like that. He said that when a ball is hit hard, you have to play it slow and soft. If you make a hard movement in reaction, the ball will bounce off you. When the ball is hit softly, you need to play it aggressively. Really charge the slow rollers, and play soft on the hard shots.
I guess Mike didn’t play the ball softly enough, but he still got the out.
P.S.: The veterans make the rookies dress in crazy outfits for the last road trip of the season, and Moose wanted to know whether I knew what he was going to get stuck with. I told him no, but I also said I ratted him out to the veterans. Mike had told me he hates clowns, so of course I told Chris Getz. (Hey, I’ll keep some secrets, but if I can get Moose to wear a clown costume to Chicago, I’m not passing up the opportunity.)