Games » Chicago White SoxMay14
Every silver lining has a cloud. The Royals won this one going away, but if Ned Yost was paying close attention (and I’m sure he was) he saw some of the mistakes that plague this team and prevent it from being as good as it could be.
• Guillen’s mental mistake…or mistakes…
Jose Guillen singles to right field in the 5th. Kotsay juggles the ball like he’s auditioning for Ed Sullivan, which should allow Guillen to take a shot at going to second…or at least think about it…but when the camera shifts back to Jose, he’s barely rounding first, already in shut down mode. Didn’t see it this time, so I can’t say, but I have seen Guillen coast (I’m sure you’re all stunned) into bases, and that might be what happened here.
Good base runners always assume they’re going to the next base. If the defense makes a mistake, they can advance, if not, the runner shuts it down. Assuming there won’t be a defensive mistake prevents the runner from advancing to the next base when there is one. Frank White said that Guillen might’ve attempted second if his legs felt better, but all I’ve heard is Guillen’s finally healthy. (Frank White is way better connected than me, though.)
The Sox are up by one, so Guillen’s run is important. Next: he gets picked off first and then (just to round out the trifecta of base-running errors) makes no attempt to get in a rundown and allows himself to be tagged out without forcing a throw.
• Betancourt’s mental mistake…I think…
One down, Vizquel at first, Pierre bunts to third: Callaspo picks it up and turn to throw to second to get the lead runner. Nobody’s covering. I’m weak on bunt defenses, so I picked up two baseball manuals to find out who had responsibility for second. Every diagram I could find showed shortstop taking the bag, with second going over to take first when the first baseman crashes towards the plate.
That’s where Aviles was headed, so it appeared he was doing the right thing, but Betancourt was running towards third where there wasn’t a play.
This allowed Vizquel to be safe at second and score the game’s first run on Pierzynski’s bloop single. Like I said, bunt defense aren’t my strongest subject, but I’ve never heard of one that encourages you to run away from a base where there will be a play, to cover a base where there isn’t one.
If anyone knows different, let me know and I’ll change the scoring.
• More Betancourt…
Three outstanding defensive plays: Maier’s long run to make a warning-track catch in center, Kendall’s hustle out from behind the plate to get Teahen in the 9th (much harder play than is apparent) and Betancourt going up the middle to get Teahen in the 6th. This game typifies why baseball watchers are divided on Betancourt: earlier he had, at least what appeared to be, a much easier ball that he didn’t get to. It was fielded by Aviles, who was unable to get the runner. The Royals have talked about Betancourt’s routes not being deep enough, and that might’ve been the case here.
He also contributed to Kendall’s throwing error in the 6th. Kotsay was stealing second and Jason’s throw tailed into him (for reasons I wrote about earlier). Yuniseky makes approximately no attempt to knock the ball down, it hits Kotsay, which knocks it off line so Aviles misses it too, and Kotsay is able to get up and take third.
Betancourt’s inconsistency can also be evident at the plate: in the 6th he hits a homer to tie the game up. In the 7th, with the bases loaded, with a 3-1 count (when he should be very selective), he chases a pitch up and pops out to short.
Uneven effort is deadly in a game that rewards consistency.
• Heads-up base running…
DeJesus picked up points for an excellent read on Butler’s flare to right in the 7th. Even though the ball wasn’t hit deeply, David was able to go first to third and eventually scored what proved to be the winning run.
By the way, having a runner on third can be a big deal for less obvious reasons: if the pitcher doesn’t completely trust his catcher’s ability to block, it can take certain pitches out of the equation. Just one more reason Kendall is so valuable behind the plate.