Games » New York YankeesMay23
Not a good start
The Kansas City Star
When I asked Mike Moustakas the difference between Triple A and the big leagues, he said, “Every at-bat is tough.” There are no easy nights, everyone coming out of the pen is bringing it. When I watched Tim Collins pitch for the first time, Paul Splittorff was sitting to my left. Paul said that major league hitters were spitting on pitches that got Collins a swing and a miss in the minors.
The major leagues are tough; good hitters don’t miss mistakes and good pitchers don’t make many. Regular readers know I’m reluctant to second guess managers and GMs — they know more than I do — but if there were any other option, I’m not sure I’d have a rookie make his debut in Yankee Stadium. And if there weren’t any other option, I’d make sure his family had seats somewhere other than behind home plate.
Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones provide enough distractions — why add to that?
Will Smith struggled through his first inning. Meanwhile, Yankees starter, Andy Pettitte threw a first-pitch called strike to all three batters in his first inning. That’s how it’s done: get ahead, finish them off.
The Royals walked seven, hit two and four of the free runners scored. The Yankees walked one. Not hard to see why the score ended up the way it did.
Another reason you have to look beyond the box score: Hosmer’s been smoking the ball and taking O-fers, in this game he had three hits, but none were hit well.
John Smoltz and his elbow
I recently met John Smoltz out at Kauffman Stadium. He started telling stories and said he pitched for quite a while with elbow damage. That’s why he dropped down and threw knucklers toward the end of his career. The Royals took some criticism over their handling of Danny Duffy (although I didn’t hear anyone say he should be getting an MRI before he came up hurt).
Smoltz’ experience emphasizes what you often hear: most of these guys have some kind of damage in their shoulder or elbow. It’s often been there for years. It either didn’t bother them or they pitched through it. Or — like John Smoltz — they figured out a way around it.
It doesn’t help, but I feel better
The other day Mitch Maier walked past and I asked him how his BP had gone, “You couldn’t hear it?” After I got done laughing, I asked if batting practice had any relation to what was going to happen in the game.
“None.” According to Mitch good BP helps your confidence, but won’t help when you face pitchers in the game. He also said it was easier to keep his defense consistent after being on the bench for a while than his offense. Nothing replaces live at-bats.
(I wonder if Mitch had good BP today before hitting that bomb in the 5th.)
Advice on the national anthem
It may be your big moment, but ballplayers have to listen to 162 versions of the Star-Spangled Banner — more if you count spring training. I asked around and here’s what those of us who have to listen to every rendition would like to hear:
1.) No more than a 90-second version.
2.) Sing it a “ballpark” pace. (We all have things to do.)
3.) This is not an American Idol audition. The song’s notes are just fine — you don’t need to add any of your own.
Stuff to watch
Good outfielders will circle the ball in order to catch it going toward their target whenever possible. Alex Gordon does this really well. Everybody catches the ball going away from the target once in a while, but lesser outfielders do that even when they had time to circle the ball.
With pitchers speeding up their delivery times to home plate, the Royals are looking to run when the pitcher throws an off-speed pitch. They’ve been keeping track and have a pretty good idea of the percentage pitch in any given situation. Fans can look for breaking ball when the pitcher is ahead in the count.
Unless the pitcher is really good — then he’s able to throw any pitch in any count.
Defenses have been playing Jarrod Dyson in at third until he has two strikes — then the third baseman backs up to his normal position.
With the double play in order, you’ll see the pitcher signal a middle infielder — thumb to the pitcher’s chest, pinkie to the infielder. This sign lets the infielder know the pitcher will throw to that infielder to start a double play if the ball is hit back to the mound.
People will say a swing is “long” if it looks that way, but it might not be. Hitters want to be “short to” (meaning the distance from where their hands start their swing to contact with the ball) and “long through” (meaning the follow-through that takes place after contact). The long follow-through helps the ball carry, but doesn’t hurt contact as long as the hitter is “short to” the ball.
Watch a pitcher’s follow-through and you can see if he “falls off” to one side of the mound or the other. A pitcher who “falls off” is a target for a well-placed bunt on the other side of the mound.
Runners at first and second, they both steal. The trail runner is often the better target for the catcher. The trail runner has to make sure the lead runner actually took off and often gets a bad jump. Humberto Quintero pulled this trick off last week, nailing the trail runner in a double steal by the Diamondbacks.