Games » Chicago White SoxMay11
Tip your cap
The Kansas City Star
I once saw a study that said fans tend to give all the credit to their team when it wins — it played better than the other team — and all the blame to their team when it loses — it played worse than the other team. It’s as if the other team was irrelevant to the outcome. So you can decide whether the Royals hitters were bad or White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd was good. But it sounds like a lot of hitters have been bad against Gavin Floyd — at least lately.
The Royals were shut out, had a total of five hits and could get nothing done in the two big scoring opportunities they had. In the 2nd and 8th innings, the Royals had the bases loaded with one out and couldn’t get a run in.
When a hitter comes to the plate in that situation — runner on third less than two outs — check the infield. If the infield is in, the hitter will try to get a pitch up in the zone and drive it to the outfield. The pitcher will often try to tempt the hitter with a pitch that just a bit too high in the zone, hoping for an infield pop-up. If the infield is back, the hitter can score the run by hitting a grounder — unless the double play is in order.
To many ballplayers, the key hitter is the man who comes to the plate with one out: he’s the last guy who has a chance to score a run without a hit. In the 2nd, Alcides Escobar failed to get the ball in the air and tapped it back to the pitcher. In the 7th, Billy Butler also couldn’t produce a fly ball and struck out. So you can blame Royals hitters or credit White Sox pitching.
I’d tip my cap.
Alex Gordon made another diving catch. It’s gotten to the point I’m more surprised when he doesn’t make that play than when he does.
Kelvin Herrera walked the number nine hitter, Eduardo Escobar, and he scored. Walks are bad, walks to guys hitting .133 are worse.
Jarrod Dyson‘s hitting .298. The Royals want him to keep the barrel above the ball until contact and hit line drives or hard grounders. Pitchers don’t fear Dyson taking them out of the park, so they feel free to pitch him up in the zone to see if he’ll hit routine fly balls.
I’ve seen Dyson run some interesting routes to fly balls, but he’s got the speed to make up for most of them.
Alcides Escobar made another fantastic play at short and you can try it at home: run away from your target, jump in the air, turn and see how much you can get on the throw. Eric Hosmer once told me he thought Esky brought it over to first base at about 97 mph — and Hosmer has to scoop some of those.
Other stuff from previous games because this one was kind of boring
Chris Getz said not only is Kauffman Stadium a big park, but without the artificial turf there are fewer doubles, fewer singles shooting through the infield gaps and no turf bounces. He thinks it’s a tough park for big innings.
David Ortiz came to the plate for the first time the other night and tapped the catcher and umpire’s shin guards. I’ve mentioned this before, but that’s the way ballplayers say hello. Watch a player get on base and you’ll often see him get tapped with a glove.
Tim Bogar thinks managing in the American league is mainly about handling the bullpen. There are only one or two moves to make with bench players and no double switches. So using your pen well and getting the match-ups you want is the most important skill.
When the Royals play those shifts against left-handers, the second baseman plays out on the grass. That makes the lip of the infield a factor and, if the grass is wet, that comes into play, too. Watch for ground balls hitting the lip and taking weird hops.
In the Red Sox series, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was at the plate and didn’t get the signs from the third base coach on the first attempt. Jarrod made a rolling motion with a hand — that’s the signal for the coach to go over the signs once again.
A pitcher’s “tells” can set off the stopwatch before his front foot comes up. Watching the front foot is the way I’ve been timing pitchers: the pitcher’s foot comes up and if the ball hits the mitt in 1.4 seconds or more, a base runner on first can probably steal second. But if the pitcher has an early “tell” — a physical key that lets the runner know when the pitcher’s throwing home — that “tell” can start the clock early. A 1.3 can become a 2.0. I can help you with the stopwatch part, but I’m not watching hours of video to spot usable “tells.” That’s Doug Sisson’s job.
The tonight show
There was a lot of discussion after Humberto Quintero attempted a stolen base against the Red Sox — but not nearly as much discussion after I found out why Quintero was running. Daniel Bard had already balked twice in the inning and the Royals were convinced he would not attempt another pickoff. They wanted Humberto to take a huge lead and thought he could steal the base without a throw.
Great idea, bad execution. Quintero did not take a big enough lead and was thrown out.
The reason I bring this up again is because it seems like an important point: plays like this are where the people who understand the game through statistics and the people who play the game often part company. I think it’s safe to say that, statistically, having Humberto Quintero steal is not a great idea. But what’s generally true may not be true in a specific situation.
Baseball teams take the overall numbers into account, but those can be trumped by what’s happening in this specific situation tonight. The Royals felt the specific situation — two balks in an inning — trumped the overall numbers.