Games » Oakland AthleticsApr10
One trip through the rotation
The Kansas City Star
Danny Duffy‘s ERA is 0.00. Bruce Chen’s is also 0.00. Luis Mendoza’s is 1.59, Luke Hochevar’s is 2.84 and Jonathan Sanchez has a 3.60 ERA. It’s only one trip through the rotation and, if they stay healthy, each pitcher is looking at about 30 more starts, but the first trip through the starting rotation could not have gone much better. If the Royals are going to be better than predicted, this is probably what needs to happen; better starting pitching than expected.
Last night Duffy showed why the Royals are so high on him; electric stuff. There were at-bats Duffy totally dominated. Take Anthony Recker’s trip to the plate in the third inning. Duffy had his fastball in the upper 90s at times, so Recker was ready to rip and grip at the first pitch. Instead, Danny dropped a change up on Recker—out in front, swing and miss. Then Recker got the heat he’d been expecting on the first pitch—late, swing and miss. Duffy finished him off with a nasty curve — clueless, swing and miss.
Once you see a player perform like Danny Duffy did last night, you know he has it in him — now you need to know how often he can get it out. Danny tends to get over-amped at times and you could see the Royals new pitching coach, Dave Eiland, trying to slow Duffy down. Dave was demonstrating the herky-jerky pitching motion Duffy has when he’s rushing, then showed Duffy the smooth release he has when he dials it back. The demonstration must’ve worked: Danny threw too many pitches and walked four, but other than that, Duffy dominated.
Like I said, it’s only one trip through the order, but it’s been a nice one.
When I was down at spring training, Kevin Seitzer and Ned Yost kept saying Chris Getz was a different hitter. Changes to his stance and approach to the ball were resulting in more power. I saw a couple hints of that, but it didn’t seem like I was seeing a dramatic change in results — until last night. Getz hit a deep drive to right that would’ve driven two runs if A’s right fielder Collin Cowgill hadn’t made an exceptional play on the warning track. Then Getz hit a home-run-distance foul ball. Two swings do not prove much, but they may prove Kevin Seitzer and Ned Yost know what they’re talking about.
Same with Alex Gordon, he’s got another 0-fer in the box score, but barreled up two balls last night. Alex is scuffling, but he’s hit several balls well enough to have hits — the numbers aren’t quite as bad as they look.
When it gets wet in the outfield, you can sometimes look for runners to take extra bases. The ball takes longer to get to the fielder and is soaking wet when it arrives; not ideal for making a strong throw. But taking extra bases on the outfielders depends on how bad the infield is. Grounds crews use a drying agent to keep the infield playable, but the surface can get very sticky.
Which is why Chris Getz did a face plant while attempting a steal. The human lawn dart came up with mud on his chin. Here’s what happened: The drying agent makes the ground tacky and anyone attempting a head first slide is likely to find their chest sticking in the mud and the rest of their body attempting to pass their chest. That’s what made that slide look so awkward.
Mitch Maier hit a booming home run to right. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Everybody knows Maier’s job is to sit and wait for a chance. Using that chance to hit a home run makes everybody happy — for the team — and for Mitch.
After Mitch’s home run, A’s pitcher Jerry Blevins walked Humberto Quintero on four pitches. Always watch what the pitcher does after giving up a bomb. The bulldogs don’t care—they just keep throwing strikes. More timid personalities start to nibble.
Billy Butler caught stealing? What next, cats marrying dogs? Actually, not as crazy as it sounds: Jeff Francoeur was at the plate and had a 3-2 count. The Royals gambled that Francoeur would make contact and lost the bet.
The base running isn’t going that well right now, but if that’s your game, you have to stick with it. You can’t panic and change horses in the middle of the stream. Nothing looks worse than a running game that isn’t succeeding, nothing looks better than one that is.
OK, am I crazy or just tired? When they went into the second rain delay last night, I set the DVR and went to bed. Eric Hosmer had just convinced everybody it was too dangerous to play by losing the bat on strike three and helicoptering it toward the first-base dugout. I woke up this morning to find out they never resumed play and the game was shortened to seven innings. But Hosmer’s eighth-inning K is listed in the MLB box score. That’s not right, is it? I’m too tired and rushed to go over the rulebook this morning, so I could use a reader assist.
Last night showed why baseball is not meant to be played in the rain: Lorenzo Cain got hurt on a wet surface, Chris Getz could’ve easily done the same and Hosmer’s bat could have taken out a third person. MLB has done some goofy stuff with the schedule and that backs them into a corner trying to get games in. Supposed to rain again today — maybe they can do rock, paper, scissors for the win and call it a day.