Games » Baltimore OriolesMay17
Dan Quisenberry once told me that if I faced him 10 times and got three hits, I owned him. If I got two, he owned me. That’s how fine the line is between success and failure in baseball. That’s why managers concentrate on the things their team can control: to stay on the right side of a very thin line.
Right now, the Royals are there.
Jason Kendall blocked another pitch with a runner on third. If he doesn’t do that, tie game after nine.
David DeJesus made a great catch off Izturis in the second. A little worse jump on the ball, he’s one step shy of the catch and the Orioles score two and the Royals don’t win.
One of the runs came off a balk by Bergeson with Mitch Maier on third. If Bergeson doesn’t lose focus and balk, maybe the Royals don’t win.
I could go on forever about the small things that happen in a one-run game that affect the outcome. The problem with baseball is that plays don’t come with announcements. Nobody walks out and says, “The pitcher’s about to bounce one, so Jason, if you don’t block it, your team will lose.”
You only recognize those moments looking back, and that means EVERY moment has to be taken seriously. The teams that can do that stay on the right side of the line between success and failure…right where the Royals are now.
Throw strikes, change speeds, work quick…
That’s one of the formulas for success for a pitcher. The Royals have been throwing more strikes recently, which means the fielders aren’t standing around thinking about their postgame dinner plans as much, which means better defense.
This game had four outstanding defensive plays and one that was borderline. The Royals are playing better defense, but some of the credit needs to go to the pitchers.
How to get hit by a pitch…
Well, being old and slow has always worked pretty well for me. Now, if you want to get hit by a pitch…let me start that sentence again…If you’re going to get hit by a pitch and don’t want to get hurt, you rotate your front shoulder back toward the catcher.
This accomplishes two things: first, it makes sure you get hit in the back. If you’ll spend a few minutes naked in front of a mirror, you’re going to realize that almost all the favorite parts of your body are attached to the front.
Rotating the front shoulder back toward the plate also means if you get fooled by a curve that’s inside, you can stop the rotation back and rotate forward and have some chance of hitting the ball.
Jose Guillen has been hit twice on the hands because he’s not rotating much; he’s just pulling his hands in. Speaking as a guy who has worn a cast twice because I was doing it wrong, it’s worth learning the right technique.
I heard a new one: I told Russ Morman I’d written a piece about what it feels like to get hit by a pitch…a special ripping impact that comes from the spin and the seams. Russ said the ones that really hurt are not the glancing blows, but the ones that hit square, seem to hang in there a second and drop straight down.
Russ told me the ballplayers say, “That one got in there and had lunch.”
Unfortunately, I know exactly what they mean. I’ve had them eat lunch, order a round of margaritas and ask to see the dessert cart afterward.