Games » Houston AstrosJun18
The Kansas City Star
There is no clock in baseball. I’m guessing I’m not the first one to notice that, but here’s the point: because there is no clock, it’s always possible to come back. In basketball or football you can reach a point where it’s impossible to win because there just isn’t enough time left on the clock.
In baseball, there is no clock. As long as you have an out left, you can hit forever. That’s why everything matters. That’s why it’s such a grind: paying attention to every pitch over 162 games is impossible, but important. You never know when a ball thrown away in the first inning will change everything in the ninth.
After Louis Coleman gave up two runs in the bottom of the 8th inning, making the score 6-2, it hardly seemed to matter that he gave up three more — but it did. Those three seemingly meaningless runs were the margin of victory for the Astros. The game ended 9-7 with the tying run on second base.
After the game, Ned Yost said this team has “no quit” in it. Games like Sunday’s 15-inning marathon or this game’s near comeback — 11 hitters came to the plate and five of them scored — can teach a young team an important lesson: do not mentally take a game off, or an inning off, or a pitch off.
Because in baseball, everything matters.
First inning: Yuni Betancourt triples. Billy Butler grounds out to short, but the Royals do not have the contact play on. Yuni is slow and they don’t want to risk an out at home. Jeff Francoeur singles to drive in Betancourt, Royals 1-0.
In the bottom of the first, Jonathan Sanchez gives up a home run to Brian Bixler. The Astros’ park has a short, but high, left field porch, 315 feet away from home plate. Right field is also short — at least in comparison to Kauffman — at 326 feet away. These short dimensions will come into play during this series. Corner outfielders will be able to stop runners from taking extra bases because of the shorter throws required and routine fly balls in Kansas City can go home as souvenirs in Houston.
The deepest part of the park is center field, 435 feet away. It features an incline and a flagpole, both in play. The square footage means both teams need centerfielders that can fly. The incline and flagpole mean visiting outfielders are very uncomfortable playing those features.
None of that comes into play when Sanchez walks Justin Maxwell and then throws the ball off-line on a pickoff attempt. Billy Butler’s lack of mobility does comes into play as the ball gets away from him, rolls down the right field line and is finally picked up by Jeff Francoeur. The process takes so long Maxwell scores from first, Astros 2-1.
Fourth inning: The process is repeated: this time Sanchez hits Chris Johnson and makes a pick-off throw so wide that Billy Butler bears no responsibility for it getting away. Johnson only makes it to third, and according to my scorebook, Sanchez never makes another pickoff attempt. If the Astros believe Sanchez will not risk another pickoff attempt, they can take longer leads.
The short left field and Alex Gordon‘s reputation comes into play when Matt Downs hits a fly ball to left. The Astros do not attempt to score the runner on third base.
With one down, Chris Snyder drives in Chris Johnson. Next, Astros pitcher, J.A. Happ, lays down a sacrifice bunt, Sanchez gets to it in time to cut the lead runner down at second, but fumbles the ball and has to settle for the out at first.
If Sanchez handled the chance cleanly, there would have been two down and a runner on first, the pitcher Happ. After hitting Jose Altuve, it would have been Happ trying to score from second, not Snyder. The Astros catcher looked awfully slow, so maybe Happ would have scored as well, but it would have been better to have the pitcher running the bases instead of a position player.
Sixth inning: Alex Gordon stretches a single into a double when left fielder J.D. Martinez moves laterally to field the ball. That movement away from second base means a weaker throw and Gordon takes advantage. Gordon’s base running pays off after a wild pitch and a groundball from Billy Butler results in a run.
Seventh inning: Mike Moustakas walks, Alcides Escobar singles and Humberto Quintero does his job: he hits a fly ball to right field that allows Moustakas to tag and move to third base. Unfortunately, Escobar also tries to move up on the throw and what should have been first and third with one down, becomes a runner on third with two down.
Ninth inning: In yet another indication of how mental the game of baseball can be, another closer blows up in a non-save situation. Brett Myers gives up eight hits and five runs. After being down 9-2 at the start of the inning, the Royals have the tying run on second when the game ends.
After the game Ned Yost admits his ability to manage was hampered after the 15-inning game on Sunday. His bench was Eric Hosmer, Mitch Maier and Brayan Pena. Four of his relievers were unavailable and they added an extra pitcher in order to protect the pen.
Yost felt he had to go as far as he could with Sanchez and pointed out several times that Jonathan gave the Royals six innings and kept them in the game. The Ned felt like he had to go as far as he could with Coleman in order to put the bullpen back in order for Tuesday’s game. His ability to match up pitchers and hitters in the later innings was almost non-existent, but he did get through this ball game using only two pitchers.
Sometimes you lose one now to win two later. Here’s hoping they win two later.