Games » Baltimore OriolesMay26
Let's all slow down
The Kansas City Star
Eric Hosmer went three for four in this game. When he was taking 0-fers, I was telling you Eric wasn’t hitting the ball that badly. Hosmer has had seven hits in the last three games, and now I’ll tell you he’s not hitting the ball that well. That’s baseball.
The game tends to even out and Hosmer would be the first one to tell you that. Fans — and many members of the media — need to remember that. Slow down, don’t rush to judgment. Before you say someone needs to go back to the minors or be brought to the big leagues, remember, this is a long grind.
Last season a lot of people were saying Ned Yost needed to pinch hit for Alcides Escobar. Yost said Esky needed the experience. Alcides now is hitting .307 and playing great defense. Last season a lot of people were saying Mike Moustakas wasn’t ready for the big leagues. Mike has scuffled on this road trip, but is still hitting over .270 and playing great defense.
I’ve got no clue what Eric Hosmer will eventually hit, but I know impatience and baseball don’t mix. We all need to slow down.
If you hear someone talk about “command,” they mean the ability to hit the four quadrants of the zone. Felipe Paulino’s command was off, but he figured out a way to keep his team in the game. Felipe walked five, but, fortunately, none of them came in front of the two home runs and triple he allowed.
Pitchers don’t have always have their best stuff. Figuring out how to be competitive when your stuff isn’t that good is a big part of becoming a complete pitcher. Looked at from that perspective, Paulino took a step forward in this game; he scuffled with command, but limited the damage.
Before the game Kevin Seitzer said Jeff Francoeur needed to lay off the inside fastball if he wanted to continue this hot streak. So of course, Frenchy swung at the first pitch he saw, an inside fastball.
Swinging at that pitch probably made him miss the next pitch, another fastball, but a much more hittable pitch. (The hitter opens up too soon to hit the inside pitch and it can throw his timing off on subsequent pitches out over the plate.) The catcher signaled for a pitch up in the zone, Wei-Yin Chen missed down and Francoeur doubled.
Continue to watch pitch location with Francoeur: pitchers want to come inside and get him to hit rollover grounders to third and short. If Jeff gets pitches out over the plate, he’ll hit for a higher average. But Frenchy swings at the inside pitch because that’s the one he can put in the seats. Jeff’s got his faults, but lack of aggression isn’t one of them.
Humberto Quintero tried another pick-off of a runner at first base. Watch for him to do this on a pitch that misses down and in to a left-handed hitter. That pitch has Humberto moving in the right direction to make a throw to Eric Hosmer.
Alex Gordon and Jarrod Dyson had a collision in right center. Fortunately, Dyson was going low and Gordon was going high in an effort to make the catch. You’ll see the same thing when an infielder goes back on the ball. If both fielders attempt to make the catch on the same level, heads can collide and the damage can get serious fast. Dyson took a foot in the thigh and Gordon got body slammed, but it could’ve been worse.
The upside and downside of Johnny Giavotella was on display in this game: Johnny doubled, singled and walked (more on that in a moment), but also had two balls kick off his glove. Stiff hands is one of the raps on Gio. He had problems with a 4-6 fielder’s choice in the 4th and a potential double play in the 9th. (To be fair, the double play in the 9th would’ve been tough, but if you don’t get the ball to Alcides Escobar cleanly, you don’t know if it would’ve been possible.)
Back to Gio’s walk in the 2nd: context is everything. Walks always look good in the scorebook, but some are better than others. If you’re hitting 8th in the National League and you work a walk with a runner in scoring position, bringing the pitcher to the plate — don’t expect too many high fives. It might be better to swing at a borderline pitch. Johnny’s walk came with Jeff Francoeur on second and Eric Hosmer — hitting .192 — on deck. That forced Eric to face a left-handed pitcher and Eric popped out to left field. I don’t know how the Royals viewed that plate appearance and whether they would’ve liked Johnny to be more aggressive. They might’ve been just fine with a walk there — but be aware that not every walk is a good thing. Context matters.
Billy Butler hit his 10th home run and stands at .301. It’s hard to be good, it’s harder to be good consistently. We should appreciate watching one of the best hitters in the game.
Credit Hosmer for hustling on a ball rolling up the third-base line and turning it into a double. When things are going bad, it’s easy to get your head down and miss opportunities like this.
After Hosmer’s infield double, Humberto Quintero doubled between the left field line and the Orioles left fielder. There was a big gap there and that generally means a pitcher missed his spot. I went back and checked and, sure enough, Darren O’Day was trying to finish Humberto off with a slider out of the zone, low and away. O’Day missed his spot, hung the slider which allowed Quintero to hook the ball into a gap in the defense.
Humberto then made what appeared to be a mistake when Mitch Maier dumped a flare behind third base. The third baseman, short stop and left fielder converged on the ball and it appeared the pitcher did not cover third base. Instead of taking a lead and being able to advance when the ball dropped, Quintero was headed back to second. (And if I’m wrong, Doug Sisson will tell me when he gets home.)
Quintero’s mistake (if that’s what it was) might’ve cost Mitch a double.
The Royals were 0-5 with runners in scoring position Friday night, 5-12 with runners in scoring position in this game. Two things to watch for when a hitter is at the plate with a runner in scoring position: 1.) Does he get a good pitch to hit? 2.) If he gets a good pitch, does he over-swing? Staying under control with the game on the line is difficult. Some people can do it, some struggle.
We’ve had more than one discussion — OK, argument — on this site about pressure. Is pitching the 9th inning for a save any different than pitching the 8th for a hold? Is hitting third any different than hitting sixth? A few ballplayers might say it’s not (good for them if they’re telling the truth), but most say it is different.
This comes up once again because we’re talking about hitting with runners in scoring position. Some people think it shouldn’t be any different than hitting under any other circumstance. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but all too often it is.
Here’s why: Kevin Seitzer and I were talking about pressure. Kevin said a hitter needs to be able to carry the same skills and techniques into a game that he uses in batting practice — but it’s not that easy. I asked if it was comparable to walking down a 12 inch-wide plank on the ground and then being able to do the same thing with the plank 100 feet in the air.
Same plank, same skills required, but the setting is different. Few of us could treat the task exactly the same in both instances. Kevin said that was a great metaphor and planned to use it in the future. I don’t know if he did, but it helps fans understand why some players feel pressure. It might look the same to us, but we’re not 100 feet in the air.