Games » Cleveland IndiansApr13
A loss, not a disaster
The Kansas City Star
The crowd was not happy and they let Ned Yost know it. Luke Hochevar gave up eight hits and seven runs in the first inning and fans wanted Yost to pull him. The fact that Yost didn’t meant this was, in Chris Getz’ words, “A loss, not a disaster.”
If Ned pulled Luke in the first inning, that meant the Royals would need over eight innings from their bullpen. The effect of that could last a week. By getting Luke through four innings and getting four more out of long reliever, Everett Teaford, the Royals only needed one inning from Kelvin Herrera. That means all the relievers, with the exception of Teaford, are available tomorrow.
Throwing away innings on a lost cause is not good managing.
By no stretch of the imagination did Hochevar pitch well in the first inning, but it might not have been as bad as you think. He’d given up two runs and had two outs when Shelley Duncan hit a check swing RBI single. He then made a very good pitch to Casey Kotchman and Kotchman did an even better job of hitting, pulling his hands in toward his body and flaring another single to the outfield.
The killer came on a Jason Kipnis fly ball to center field: it was right at Jarrod Dyson , he froze and then the ball got up in the jet stream and just kept carrying back and toward left center. Dyson made no excuses after the game — he didn’t want to hear about the wind, “That’s on me.” If Dyson makes that catch, the Royals are out of the inning with three runs. Dyson didn’t, and the Royals shifted into protect-the-bullpen mode.
Major league pitchers almost always adjust — almost always. Hochevar did. After his first inning, he threw three shutout innings, which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Shin-Soo Choo stole second base in the first inning. Hochevar had a 3-2 count on Carlos Santana and used a full knee-cock (as opposed to a slide step) to deliver the ball. Lifting his knee all the way took too long, and Humberto Quintero had no chance to throw out Choo.
Before the game a lot was made out of Jeff Francoeur hitting in the two-hole. I asked Doug Sisson if leadoff hitter Jarrod Dyson’s speed made bat handling in the two-hole less important — you don’t need to bunt or hit and run, just let Dyson steal. Sisson thought it was more a case of getting your most dynamic hitters an extra at-bat.
Frenchy got two hits when Dyson got on in front of him. Afterwards, Jeff said Derek Lowe would probably pitch his game no matter what, but it’s hard not to notice that when Dyson was on first, Jeff got nothing but fastballs. When Jeff came to the plate in the third inning without Dyson on first, Lowe threw him a slider.
Harder than you think
Remember when I got hit by that pitch and then showed the bruise? (Both videos are still up on the site.) People were horrified by all the damage the pitch did. Of course, it may have looked worse because I’m carrying the same amount of body fat as the entire Royals outfield, backups included — but it was a good reminder of what we’re asking when we say a player should step in front of a baseball.
After catcher Humberto Quintero blocked all those balls in the dirt against the Angels, he had bruises all over his chest and arms. Players are never going to show those to the fans, but over 162 games these guys really beat up their bodies. It doesn’t mean Humberto shouldn’t get in front of another slider in the dirt, but it does mean fans ought to appreciate it when he does.
Taking nothing for granted
Mitch Maier absolutely crushed a ball when the team was in Oakland. Even watching on TV, I knew it had a chance to leave the yard. I told Mitch I’d never hit a ball that hard and asked him when he knew it was gone.
“When it landed.”
Figuring out why his teammates love Mitch Maier? I guess when you’re a bench player you take nothing for granted.
Those spring training stats
OK, we’re one week into the season: does anybody care that Bruce Chen’s had a lousy spring training ERA? Or that Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain were tearing the cover off the ball in the Cactus League? Spring training stats get overblown because there just aren’t any other numbers available. And the same thing happens with stats in April — hot and cold streaks get magnified. Alex Gordon does not have 400 other at-bats to smooth out a 2-22 stretch.
So relax. I don’t know what Gordon’s going to hit this year, but I’m guessing it won’t be .091.
(And just to prove it, Alex picked up two more hits today.)