Games » Baltimore OriolesMay17
Walks and errors
The Kansas City Star
Walks and errors. When they played the first baseball game — wherever that was — some coach was probably already warning his team about walks and errors. There are great many things baseball players don’t control, but — theoretically — they should be able to control walks and errors. In the 7th inning of Thursday’s game the Royals didn’t and it cost them the game.
Royals up 3-2, Wilson Betemit leads off the 7th with a single. Chris Davis follows that with a line drive single to center field. Jarrod Dyson charges in, decides at the last moment he’s not going to get there in time to make the catch and hits the brakes. So far, none of these decisions have been incorrect. It wasn’t charging in, it wasn’t deciding the catch could not be made — it was what happened after.
Dyson wants to play the ball for a single. Betemit is only going to get to second base because he had to hold up to see if the ball would be caught, but Jarrod fails to knock the ball down and keep it in front of him. Outfielders talk about keeping the ball in front of you and sometimes say you need to “get big.” That means square up to the ball and make your body as big as possible in an effort to knock the ball down. I’m not sure “getting big” is on Jarrod’s list of options, but an outfielder needs to be willing to let the ball hit his body in that situation.
The ball skips by Dyson, Betemit scores from first and Davis ends up on second. Score 3-3. Aaron Crow replaces Luke Hochevar, gets two outs and then walks Luis Exposito, the No. 9 hitter — as they say, he’s hitting ninth for a reason. That gets Crow gets back to the top of the order and he proceeds to walk the leadoff hitter, Xavier Avery. Avery’s walk pushes Exposito into scoring position, J.J. Hardy singles and the Orioles have the two runs they’ll need to win the game.
Courtesy of two walks and an error.
Jarrod Dyson is going to get criticized — it’s already started — for the play in Thursday’s game. Combined with the ball he misplayed on opening day, plenty of fans will have the ammunition they need to say the Royals ought to dump him. (Wasn’t it just before the game that we were talking about how well he was playing and how tough it was going to be for Lorenzo Cain to get his job back?)
Smarter people than me will decide what to do with Jarrod Dyson. I just want to point out that fast outfielders will fool you. A ball goes up, it looks like trouble and the fast outfielder gets there easily, makes the catch and some fans think the play was routine. The only reason it looked routine is because of the player’s foot speed.
Dyson has definitely made some plays look harder than he needed to, but don’t forget the ones he made look easy.
It’s going to get lost in the talk about the Dyson play, but Alex Gordon did an excellent job holding Wilson Betemit to a single to start the inning.
Billy Butler played well defensively: twice he came off the bag, snagged errant throws and applied the tag as the runner went by. Once he reached into the camera bay to catch a pop fly.
Falu was credited with a sacrifice bunt in the 4th inning, but I thought the scoring was wrong. There was already one out and Falu pushed it hard toward second. Both are clues that he was bunting for a hit.
Wednesday night Felipe Paulino kept coming inside on Nick Johnson. Felipe would make Johnson move his feet, then throw something away. Johnson struck out on three called strikes. Some hitters are really uncomfortable leaning out over the plate after the pitcher comes in. Next time you see a pitcher come in, watch where the next pitch is and how the hitter reacts.
BTW: there are tough guys who refuse to get out of the way when the pitcher comes inside. They just turn and let the pitch hit them. That’s why pitchers hate elbow pads, they think it allows the hitter to get away with this behavior without paying the price.
Here’s a helpful hint: if you’re ever watching a ball game around people who play, manage, coach, report on, serve food or have any other connection to professional baseball, never, never, ever say how quickly the game is being played — it’s considered a jinx.
Someone in the press box made that mistake Wednesday night and bang — extra innings. (I’m looking at you, Emily.)
The price you pay
Greg Holland says that most of the time, if he pitches two days in a row, he’ll need the third day off. Greg also said that if he pitches an inning and two thirds (got one out, sat, pitched an inning, sat, got another out) the time between innings will make him more stiff and sore than if hadn’t sat between innings. Getting hot, cooling down and getting hot again has an effect.
Another thing to think about when you see a guy pitch great and wonder why they don’t have him come back out: they can — and sometimes do — but there’s a price to pay.
Speaking of paying a price: say you’re managing, the game is in the 7th inning and your starter is through. The opposition is sending a left-handed hitter, followed by a right-handed hitter and then another lefty to the plate. You have two left-handed relievers in the pen. You have the option of using both left-handed relievers, plus a right-hander in-between and getting matchups you like throughout the 7th inning.
If it works, fans will love it — you appear to be managing the hell out of the game. You’ve also chewed through three relievers in one inning and no longer have a left-handed reliever available.
Factor in who’s unavailable, ahead or behind, stage of the game and righties who can get out lefties and lefties who can get out righties and suddenly, managing the bullpen isn’t as easy as it appears from the upper deck after your fifth beer.
P.S. Here’s another pitching theory to keep in mind: if you bring in enough pitchers you’ll eventually find one who doesn’t have it that night. So sticking with a guy has its drawbacks, but so does changing pitchers. There’s a reason these guys get paid a lot to manage baseball.