Games » Minnesota TwinsJun30
Why Hochevar got hit
The Kansas City Star
Before the second game of Saturday’s double header, catcher Salvador Perez was asked what Luke Hochevar needed to do in his start against the Twins. The first thing Salvador said was this: Luke Hochevar needed to keep the ball down in the zone. Luke failed to do this and gave up five earned runs in six innings.
In the past when Hochevar has had a bad outing, it often was an accumulation of bad things: a-hit-followed-by-a-walk-followed-by-a-hit kind of inning. I don’t know if it’s progress, but against the Twins Hochevar gave up four of his runs on balls that left the park. So instead of a string of bad pitches, Luke managed to give up four of his five earned runs on three swings.
It’s not much of a silver lining, but this outing wasn’t the typical Hochevar meltdown we’ve seen in the past.
Game notes First inning: Hochevar gives up a single to Joe Mauer and a home run to Josh Willingham. The Twins have all the runs they need to win this game, but nobody will know it for another two-and-a-half hours.
Second inning: Billy Butler hits a monster shot into the uppermost deck in left field. It doesn’t change anything, but it’s one of the few Royals highlights, so we should all enjoy the moment. (Last season the Royals asked Butler for more power and a little less average. His transition has been impressive. Not many hitters can do this.)
In the bottom of the inning, Hochevar has Minnesota’s Chris Parmalee down 0-2. Catcher Salvador Perez signals for a pitch down in the zone. Hochevar misses up, and Parmalee homers.
Fifth inning: Yuniesky Betancourt dives for a Jamey Carroll grounder and knocks it down, but he still doesn’t get Carroll at first. The results may have been the same, but diving for a ball — even if you don’t get a runner — just looks better.
Next, Alcides Escobar dives for a Joe Mauer ground ball with better results. Esky makes a spectacular play to force Carroll at second. If you did not see this play live, find a replay. It’s well worth your time. Kansas City has one of the best shortstops in the game, and we should all enjoy watching him play.
Sixth inning: Alex Gordon reads a carom of the left-field wall incorrectly, and Minnesota’s Trevor Plouffe doubles. If Gordon had read the carom correctly, Plouffe would still have doubled, but it’s an example of how a player on the visiting team is at a disadvantage when playing the idiosyncrasies of an unfamiliar park.
Seventh inning: The Royals get the call on a pickoff of the Twins’ Ben Revere. The call is incorrect, but the umpire has a bad angle on the tag. (Just remember this play the next time the Royals get screwed on a call.)
Eighth inning: With Josh Willingham at the plate, Salvador Perez looks up to see whether Willingham is peeking back. When a batter has a good view of the catcher, you often see the catcher look up at the hitter to make sure he’s not stealing signs by looking back. (Catchers are especially suspicious of batters who wear sunglasses at the plate.) Also watch for the catcher to look down at the hitter’s feet. He wants to know if the hitter has changed his position in the batter’s box and will adjust the pitches thrown accordingly.
Ninth inning: Billy Butler gives it a ride, but hits it into the wrong part of the park — deep center field. An out later, Eric Hosmer doubles, but it’s too little, too late. Twins 5, Royals 1.
That passed ball
Perez was expecting a breaking pitch and got a fastball. He started to move his mitt down, realized that the pitch wasn’t breaking and got it back into position too late. When this kind of mix-up happens, there almost always is a runner on second base. The pitcher and catcher have agreed to use an indicator with a runner on second who can look in and see the signs, but either the pitcher or catcher — usually the pitcher — forgets the indicator and there’s a mix-up on which pitch is being thrown.
(Just in case you missed the brief period in which the game notes from game one were on the home page, here they are again.)
Twins starting pitcher, Scott Diamond, threw strikes, pitched ahead in the count, trusted his stuff and his defense, kept his pitch count low and won the ball game—Jonathan Sanchez did not. Sanchez walked six, gave up six runs and threw 101 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. Sanchez also made a mental mistake by failing to cover home plate.
For a guy who already has a lot of critics, this was another bad outing.
First inning: The Twins pitcher, Diamond, obviously has a reputation for throwing strikes. The Royals hitters try to “ambush” him. When a pitcher throws a lot a lot of first-pitch fastball strikes, hitters sometimes swing early in an effort to ambush him. The Royals offense has been hot lately, but the ambush doesn’t work—too many hard-hit balls right at fielders.
In the bottom half of the inning, Sanchez has Ben Revere on first base and keeps throwing over to hold Revere close. Sanchez has Revere confused—Ben is sometimes breaking back to first as the pitch is delivered to home plate—but splitting his attention costs Sanchez as he walks Josh Willingham, the first of six walks on the day.
Second inning: Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla proves that the Royals aren’t the only ones that make mental mistakes. Casilla follows up an infield hit with a prolonged bit of styling afterwards. Base runners trying to beat out an infield grounder are supposed to glance to their right as they pass first base to see if the ball has gotten away. Casilla fails to do this—too busy slowing down in an overly stylish manner—and misses the fact that the ball is bouncing around the infield. Casilla fails to advance.
Later in the inning, Sanchez is still struggling with his command and seems to lose focus on what’s happening behind him. The Twins pull the first of two double steals without a throw.
Third inning: With nobody out and Trevor Plouffe on third, Ryan Doumit hits what appears to a sacrifice fly to centerfield. Jason Bourgeois joins the outfield assist club, throwing Plouffe out at the plate. As Doug Sisson points out in our current home page video, the Royals outfielders are throwing people out on the bases because they play shallow. They’re trying to take away the cheap hits and will live with the balls hit over their heads.
Fifth inning:With runners on first and second base, Brian Dozier hits a ball off the end of the bat that first spins away from the field and then heads back toward foul territory. The ball has more English on it than an episode of Downton Abbey.
Brayan Pena comes out from behind home plate to field the ball and throws it to Eric Hosmer at first, but Jonathan Sanchez gets caught spectating and fails to cover home plate. A runner scores from second base on a ball hit halfway to first.
After 4 1/3 innings, Sanchez is lifted from the game. Just as quality starts gives fans an idea of how many times a pitcher keeps his team in a game, giving up more than four earned runs tells a fan when pitchers made it very difficult for their team to win. Sanchez has given up more than four earned runs four times—tied for first on the team with Luke Hochevar. Hochevar appears to be turning his season around—Sanchez does not.
Sixth inning: Jason Bourgeois leads off the inning with a single. Bourgeois is currently with the team because he’s a lifetime .320 hitter against left-handed pitching and the Royals are facing five left-handed starters in the first six games of this road trip. (If any of that’s incorrect, blame Ryan Lefebvre—I’m going to.)
Eighth inning: If you’re wondering why Yuniesky Betancourt is on the field when Irving Falu is available, Betancourt has been very hot at the plate in June. Yuni continues his streak, driving in his second run of the day, but it’s not enough, Royals lose 7-2.
(Yuni has had 24 RBIs in the month of June.)