Games » St. Louis CardinalsJun24
Walks that score
The Kansas City Star
If you’re looking for the deciding factor in this ballgame, try this: The Royals issued nine walks, and six of those St. Louis batters scored. The Royals also had an error, missed the cutoff man a couple of times and misplayed a fly ball into a double. Teams that have overwhelming talent can make mistakes and overcome them. Teams with less talent need to play clean baseball and not beat themselves.
Give credit to the Cardinals for taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them, but at least in this game, you can blame the Royals for creating those opportunities.
First inning: With one out, the Cardinals’ Allen Craig hit a sinking line drive to center fielder Jarrod Dyson. Generally — depending on the pitchers and how many runs you believe they might give up — the idea is to stay out of a big inning early and play to prevent single runs (as long as they matter) late.
So most of the time, especially in the first inning, an outfielder should concede the single, keep the ball in front him and keep the double play in order. Jarrod dived, the ball got past him, and the play was scored a double. Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez walked Matt Holliday, then Carlos Beltran homered on an 0-2 pitch.
In the bottom of the inning, the Cards returned the favor, walking Irving Falu and giving up the first of two home runs to Mike Moustakas. Mike is hitting third with Billy Butler behind him. Of the nine pitches Mike saw in this at-bat, six were fastballs, including the pitch he hit out of the park. Hitting in front of Billy has its advantages.
Second inning: Two more walks scored, and the Cards now led 5-2.
Fourth inning: Moustakas homered again. He saw five pitches, all fastballs. It probably isn’t a coincidence that Butler was on deck. Jeff Francoeur homered and Brayan Pena singled. Pena then scored on a Jarrod Dyson triple. The score was now tied at 5.
Sixth inning: Sanchez came out to start the inning. Sanchez struggled in the first two innings, then threw well for three. Manager Ned Yost tried to get every out he can from Sanchez before going to his overworked bullpen. The decision was made. Yost would pull Sanchez if a runner got on base. Unfortunately, Yadier Molina got on — and off — base in a hurry when he homered on a 1-0 change-up. The Cardinals led 6-5.
The Royals got the run right back in the bottom of the inning. Francoeur singled then went from first to third on a Pena single. The Cards’ right fielder, Allen Craig, was moving away from the play, which meant a weak throw. Frenchy’s heads-up base-running turned into the tying run when he scored on Salvador Perez’s grounder to the shortstop. The score was tied at 6.
Seventh inning: Matt Holliday walked and stole second without a throw. The culprit was really Tim Collins’ delivery time. His high leg kick meant catcher Salvador Perez had no chance to throw out Holliday, who later scored from second on a David Freese single. The Cardinals now led 7-6.
Eighth inning: With one out, Matt Carpenter tripled. With a runner on third, one out and right-handed Shane Robinson at the plate, the Royals suspected St. Louis would try a squeeze play. Collins threw two curveballs down — Perez blocked one in the dirt to prevent the runner on third from scoring — hoping that the squeeze was on and Carpenter would bunt and miss. Carpenter didn’t bite on the curves down, so the Royals next tried a pitchout. Once again, Carpenter wasn’t bunting, and the Royals ended up walking him intentionally.
The walk allowed Yost to set up the double play and move his infield back. All they needed was a groundball from Daniel Descalso to get out of the inning. They got the grounder, but it was hit between Irving Falu and Billy Butler. Francoeur came up throwing when Robinson went from first to third, and the throw allowed Descalso to advance to second.
Rafael Furcal was intentionally walked to once again set up a double play and allow the Royals to play their infield back. There was another seeing-eye grounder from Daniel Craig, followed by a sacrifice fly from Matt Holliday and that was your ballgame. The Cardinals led 11-6.
Ninth inning: Billy Butler hit a two-run shot just short of the fountains in right field, but it was too little, too late. Cardinals win 11-8.
The pregame routine
(Awhile back, a reader asked me what goes on in the stadium before the gates open, and I figured I ought to tell everybody at the same time. The Royals have three more home games before going on the road. The next home game will be July 13 against the Chicago White Sox. This information might come in handy if you’re looking for an autograph. What follows is the typical schedule for a 7:10 game.)
Early work: This is usually done in shorts and a T-shirt, depending on the weather. Early work can take place whenever the coaches and players arrange it, but there often is something going on by 3 p.m. —sometimes it’s even earlier. Early work can be done in groups (outfielders throwing to bases, bunters in the batting cage, base-stealers practicing breaks) or individually. For instance, a player might want help with his double-play footwork. Coaches often do really early work. Some days first-base coach Doug Sisson is at the park at 10 a.m., studying video of pitchers.
4:20: Pitchers stretch. The pitchers come out first and loosen up.
4:30: Team stretch. This is the first time all the players have to be on the field. By now they are wearing baseball pants and batting-practice jerseys. They stretch and do some light jogging and agility drills. Then play catch.
4:50 to 5:45: Royals batting practice. The players are divided into hitting groups. One group is in the field shagging fly balls, another group is getting ready to hit (finding bats, putting on batting gloves) and another group is hitting. Pitchers stay in the outfield and shag balls the entire time. The starting position players for that night’s game hit first. Here’s what they do:
First round: The hitter lays down two bunts, one to first base, the other to third and then hits seven balls to the opposite field.
Second round: First swing, hit and run (the ball needs to be hit on the ground). Second swing, move the runner over from second to third (the ball needs to be hit to the right side). Third swing, get the runner in from third with the infield back (a ground ball up the middle will do). Fourth swing, get the runner in from third with the infield in (the ball needs to be hit in the air). The fifth swing: a suicide squeeze. The last three swings: hit away.
Third round: Each player in the hitting group takes five swings, then rotates through again and takes two more hacks. There are four hitting groups before home games and three before road games. (Field time can be a bit more limited on the road.)
(If you want to ask for an autograph, pay attention. Make sure the player has finished BP and ask as he leaves the field. This is the first time that the players are not supposed to be somewhere else, at least for a while. Fans asking before the player hits might be ignored or asked to wait because the player is on a schedule. And “please” and “thank you” don’t hurt.)
5:45 to 6:30: When the visiting team takes batting practice, the Royals head up to the clubhouse. Some shower again and put on a fresh uniform. They relax in the clubhouse. TVs play video of that night’s starter for the hitters or video of the opposing hitters for the pitchers. Some players eat a light dinner or have a snack. Now it’s time for game uniforms.
6:30 to 7:00: The visiting team is in its clubhouse now, and the grounds crew is getting the field ready.
7:10: Game time. Let’s play ball.
(For 6:10 or 1:10 games, the spacing between events remains the same. Also be aware there are times when the pregame activities are curtailed. Players got a rare Saturday night out before this game. The high temperature was supposed to be more than 100 degrees on Sunday, so the Royals kept pregame activity to a minimum.)