Games » New York YankeesMay3
How practice wins a game
The Kansas City Star
A while back I wrote a piece about Mike Moustakas and infield coach Eddie Rodriguez. Eddie had Mike out to work on fielding slow groundballs to third. Mike’s approach was to field the ball, straighten up and then make the throw to first. Eddie wanted him to do it right—field the ball and throw from down under before he straightened up. It takes less time and the throwing angle is better. (Check our video section to see Eddie demonstrate the correct approach to the play.)
After numerous repetitions, Mike was soaked with sweat, tired and frustrated. Some of his throws were on target, some weren’t. At one point, after sailing a throw past first base, Mike flipped his glove in the air in disgust. Eddie jumped him for that—throwing your glove is not the right reaction. The right reaction is practicing until you can make the play.
Last night, with two out in the top of the ninth and the tying run on third, Alex Rodriguez hit a slow roller to Mike Moustakas. Mike Moustakas made the play—the right way. The Royals won 4-3. A practice that nobody saw in the middle of the day a couple weeks ago resulted in a win that 19,590 people saw on Thursday night. Just thought you’d like to know.
Earlier in the same inning, Chris Getz started a double play with a diving stop. Derek Jeter was on second, Curtis Granderson was on first and Mark Teixeira shot a grounder up the middle. Getz said he knew he had to keep the ball on the infield or Jeter would score. He knocked the ball down, rolled on top of it, somehow got it out and shoveled it to Alcides Escobar. Esky was waiting at second, got the first out, but had the runner on top of him. Alcides bounced the throw, but Eric Hosmer scooped it.
With Jeter on third, Jonathan Broxton was now facing A-Rod for the last out of the game. At one point Humberto Quintero called for a slider and tapped his glove on the ground. This is usually a signal for the pitcher to bounce the pitch. Brayan Pena doesn’t like to do it—he’s afraid the signal will be relayed to the hitter—but Humberto doesn’t seem to mind. However a catcher calls for it, asking the pitcher to bounce a pitch with the tying run on third is a gutsy call.
Jeff Francoeur turned a single into a double in the eighth inning. I asked what he’d seen that made him go for two. Apparently Curtis Granderson was moving to his left — which meant a weak throw.
After Mike Moustakas was unable to move Jeff to third, Francoeur decided to do it on his own. He was thrown out trying to steal and later told me he slipped on the way to third.
Earlier in the day I asked Doug Sisson if the stolen base policy would remain the same: Give the players the relevant information (delivery times and keys) and a green light. Ned Yost thinks the players generally have a better idea of when to go than he would calling the steals from the bench. Doug said the runners had worked on cleaning up some of the problems they had earlier in the season and were nine for their last 10 attempts. Make that nine for their last 11.
A couple times Chris Getz went to the mound to confer with the pitcher and catcher. I asked what that was about and he said he was just confirming the sign sequence they were going to use with a runner on second base. To keep the runner from relaying signs they use a coded sequence. Chris gets the sign and passes it along to Eric Hosmer. Alcides Escobar’s job is to do the same for Mike Moustakas. Infielders want to know whether a pitch is a fastball or off-speed so they know which side the ball is likely to be hit to.
Jason Kendall once told me pitchers who go in for elaborate signs don’t trust their stuff. It can get really complicated. Kendall said he’d tell the pitcher he was pretty sure the hitters didn’t know what was coming. How could they? He didn’t know what was coming.
Francoeur had gotten into some old habits: hacking at inside pitches and rolling over into left-side ground outs. He decided to be more patient last night and—according to my scorebook—saw six pitches in his first at bat, nine in his second, five in his third (a walk) and three when he doubled.
Eddie and the ump
In Wednesday’s game you might’ve seen third base coach Eddie Rodriguez and third base umpire Brian Runge get tangled up on a play at third. Runge ended up shoving Eddie out of the way. I’d never seen that before, so I asked Eddie who has the right of way. Turns out, it’s the umpire.
Eddie said the third base coach has to be aware of the “slot” the umpire needs to be in to make a call. Eddie thought he’d left that slot clear, Runge disagreed and that’s why you saw him move Eddie out of the way.
Just what the doctor ordered
If you’re like me (and God help you if you are) after Tuesday’s game against the Tigers, you probably thought, “Great, they just played sloppy baseball and now they have to face Justin Verlander.” Surprisingly enough, Doug Sisson thought facing Justin Verlander was just what the doctor ordered. Doug’s reasoning went like this: when you’re facing the best pitcher in baseball, everybody knows you better bring your “A” game. The Royals did.
Verlander might’ve done more for the Royals mindset than any manager’s speech.
The Royals played very good baseball in the Verlander game and did the same again last night. I asked Ned Yost if he believed the Verlander game had some carryover and he said, some — that and facing the Yankees at home didn’t hurt either.