Games » Pittsburgh PiratesJun10
Striking out looking
The Kansas City Star
OK, so Ned Yost went for a better defense in this game and that didn’t work out either. Still a couple of errors, but also a couple plays that almost certainly wouldn’t have been made (Jarrod Dyson‘s catch in center and Mitch Maier‘s tumbling “catch” over the wall in foul territory) with the defense set up the way it was Friday and Saturday night.
With less offense in the lineup and Pirates starter A.J. Burnett dealing, the Royals didn’t get their first hit until the 6th inning, but give them credit—they kept battling and got back in the game.
Unfortunately, they went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position, including a couple of strikeouts looking with the game on the line. We’ve had this argument before: Is a strikeout looking any worse than a swinging strikeout? I think it is. With runners in scoring position and two strikes, I think hitters need to hit the zone and a little more. Put the ball in play and anything can happen. The Pirates proved that Saturday night.
- Alex Gordon swung at the first pitch of the game for a reason. He occasionally does this to prevent pitchers from confidently grooving a fastball for strike one. In this case it didn’t work and three pitches later A.J. Burnett had two outs.
Eric Hosmer took the opposite approach to extend the inning. Hos took a hittable fastball, swung at a curve and was then at Burnett’s mercy. Damned if you do damned if you don’t—at least with a good pitcher.
This is why pitchers need to pound the zone; force hitters to swing the bat early. If a pitcher has a reputation for doing this—throwing a first-pitch fastball for a strike—Kevin Seitzer will let the hitters know they need to be ready to dial it up right away.
After doubling, Andrew McCutchen stole third base. Easier to do when a lefty is on the mound (he has his back to the runner), so it’s something you can look for in future games.
According to the guys on TV, Chen has the fewest walks per nine innings and hasn’t given up more than two walks in any game this season—a big part of his success.
With Rod Barajas at the plate, Chen shows what pitching’s about: an 84 MPH sinker, followed by an 81 mph cutter, followed by an 88 mph sinker. The 88 mph pitch locked Barajas up. Good pitchers either slow a hitter’s bat down and then speed it up or vice versa. 88 mph can look like 98 mph in the right pitch sequence.
Doug Sisson pointed out that Eric Hosmer may have struggled in right field because of the third deck that major league parks have and minor league parks don’t. Even seasoned outfielders can struggle with the third deck when they arrive in the big leagues. They have to learn to pick up the ball with a crowd in the background.
This can’t be practiced during BP either—no crowd. So the first time you’re looking at a fly ball with something other than empty seats behind it is in a major league game.
We’ve discussed whether a base stealer helps the hitter at the plate. Bruce Chen had six pickoff attempts during Andrew McCutchen’s at-bat before McCutchen homered. Maybe there was no negative effect there, but it probably didn’t help Chen’s rhythm.
Eric Hosmer had an 11-game hitting streak going before this game. Looks like he’s slowly coming back.
The Royals stole four bases off Burnett. A.J. has an inward turn—a coiling move—before he comes to the plate and that takes time. He seemed to cut the move down with a runner on, but I still had him over 1.7 seconds delivering the ball home when I had a stopwatch on him. Looks like the Royals picked their spots and were successful.
Jarrod Dyson made a great play in right center and started an 8-4-3 double play. The defensive switch paid off in this case.
Mitch Maier made another great “catch” going over the fence head first and landing on a concrete walkway. Replays revealed the ball rolling around on the ground after he took his swan dive, but Mitch picked it up and showed it to the umpire and got the call.
Brayan Pena hustled a single into a double, and it paid off when Alcides Escobar bounced another double into the stands. If Pena doesn’t hustle into second, he only gets third on Esky’s double and would not have ended up scoring.
Billy Butler pinch-hit for Mike Moustakas in the 8th inning with a lefty on the mound. That move put Yuniesky Betancourt at third, in most people’s minds (and mine) a defensive downgrade. But when behind, managers will go for offense, when ahead they’ll stick with the good defense.
Clint Hurdle brought in Juan Cruz to face Brayan Pena, which kept Pena on the left side of the plate. Brayan was 0-3 against Cruz, probably one of the reasons Hurdle made the move.
In the 9th inning with the tying run on first, Ned Yost had Jarrod Dyson bunt the runner over. Probably two reasons for that: Even though it violates the “play for the win on the road and the tie at home” rule, asking Dyson to bunt is not an automatic out. Also, Yost has done this before when he thinks his bullpen is in better shape than the home team’s. He figures to get the game to extra innings and win it there. Joel Hanrahan, the Pirates closer, was not available—he’d already pitched three days in a row, one more than Hurdle prefers—and that may have figured into Ned’s thinking.