Games » Toronto Blue JaysJul2
'He gave us a chance to win'
The Kansas City Star
“He gave us a chance to win.”
First inning: Despite his poor numbers when hitting higher in the order, Alcides Escobar is hitting second. There are at least two reasons for this: his poor numbers are based on a small sample size and Escobar has skills desirable in a No. 2 hitter. He can hit the ball the other way. This allows him to take advantage of a hole on the right side when a runner is being held at first or hit the ball to the right side to move a runner on second base over to third. Escobar is also able to get a bunt down and runs well enough to be a desirable base runner in front of the heart of the order.
Escobar singles to right, but never advances.
Everett Teaford gives up a double, a walk and hits a batter in the bottom of the first — a big inning looms, but Teaford makes the pitches necessary to get out of the inning with only one run scoring.
Second inning: Salvador Perez hits a two-run home run, his third in eight games, and the Royals lead, 2-1.
Third inning: Yuniesky Betancourt continues to drive in runs, doubling and driving in Eric Hosmer from second base. Betancourt comes into second base standing and narrowly avoids the tag. If Betancourt came in standing because the throw was high and he thought he could advance if the ball got away, it’s not bad baseball. If Betancourt didn’t slide because he assumed he’d be safe, it’s a mental mistake.
Bottom of the third and Jose Bautista hits a Teaford changeup out of the yard. A changeup is generally supposed to start in the zone and then dive out. This changeup starts in the zone and stays in the zone. The pitch is down, but not far enough to avoid being hammered.
Fourth inning: Salvador Perez singles and Jason Bourgeois doubles — runners at second and third. Alex Gordon singles, Bourgeois takes a couple steps and freezes. This is an odd base-running move because the single is on the ground; there’s no need to wait to see if the ball will drop.
Apparently, Bourgeois temporarily held his ground because Salvador Perez held his ground and the Royals centerfielder did not want to run up the back of the Royals catcher. Once again, odd since the ball was hit on the ground and up the middle; no way to throw Perez out at the plate.
Bourgeois belatedly gets moving on Gordon’s single and still seems like a lock to score: the Blue Jays centerfielder, Colby Rasmus is moving sideways when he fields the ball which means a weak throw home. In fact, the ball is just leaving Rasmus’ hand as Bourgeois hits third, but Jason is already slowing down after getting a stop sign from Eddie Rodriguez, the third base coach. The throw to the infield is weak and, even though there are no outs — a time to be conservative on the bases — it seems like the Royals have missed a likely scoring opportunity.
Almost immediately Bourgeois makes up for the missed chance by scoring on a wild pitch that is blocked, but rolls to the edge of the grass around home plate. Bourgeois gets a good jump and Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero doesn’t, failing to cover home plate when catcher J.P. Arencibia scrambles to retrieve the ball.
Arencibia’s block of a pitch in the dirt — which then bounces away from him — emphasizes the importance of Salvador Perez’ ability to block pitches so effectively that they often end up at his feet.
Later in the inning, Billy Butler lines out to right field and Alex Gordon is doubled off second base. This is not a base-running mistake: Gordon was in motion on a 3-2 count.
Sixth inning: Bourgeois collects his third hit of the game. Jason hit .396 against left-handed pitchers for the Astros last season and has been brought up to face the string of left-handed starters the Royals will face before the All-Star break.
Bourgeois then gets picked off first base by lefty Romero. If Borgeois was going on first movement — a tactic used against left-handed pitchers — the pickoff is a gamble that didn’t work. If Bourgeois was not going on first movement or wasn’t supposed to be going at all, it’s a mistake.
Seventh inning: Eric Hosmer is hitting well and has been moved into the three-hole. He now hits a ball so perfectly it “knuckles.” Bats impart spin to base balls, that’s why they hook or slice as they go down a base line. They can also have top-spin (the ball dives) or back spin (the ball rises).
But when a ball is hit perfectly square, it leaves the bat with no spin at all. The line drive knuckles its way out to centerfielder Colby Rasmus who misses the catch. Hosmer hustles into second with a double. Hosmer is nine for 18 on this road trip.
As well as Hosmer hits the ball, Mike Moustakas hits one better: the Royals first grand slam of the season and Mike’s first grand slam in the major leagues. Everett Teaford now has plenty of breathing room and the Blue Jays don’t.
In the bottom of the inning, on a 1-1 pitch to Brett Lawrie, Salvador Perez shifts inside, pounds his fist into his mitt and then shifts back to the outside part of the plate. Popping the mitt in one location, then shifting to another, is meant to send a false message to the hitter. The hope is that the hitter thinks the pitch will be inside and have a hard time handling something away.
Laurie fouls the pitch off and eventually strikes out.
Eighth inning: Alex Gordon singles on a tough pitch low and away. The point of interest here is the direction the ball took; Gordon hit it to left field. When hitters are going the opposite way — “oppo” in current baseball slang — it’s usually a good sign, especially if they hit the ball hard. It means they’re waiting well and exhibiting good mechanics.
Ninth inning: Ned Yost brings in Tim Collins to finish the game. An easy call — the Jays have two lefties coming to the plate and Jose Mijares pitched Sunday. Collins goes 1-2-3 with the help of a spectacular play by Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer — a strong throw, followed by a pick in the dirt. Royals win, 11-3.
Ned Yost has been criticized for his decision to leave Bruce Chen in the game to face Josh Willingham on Sunday. Here’s Ned’s reasoning as related by Rex Hudler: Chen was at 80 pitches and throwing well. Yost did not like the Herrera-Willingham matchup. (Speculation on my part: it may be that Ned did not want a fastball pitcher to face an excellent fastball hitter — some managers like a soft-tosser to go after the guys with big swings.)
Ned thought Bruce could throw a double play ball and Willingham is a double play candidate. Yost also wants the starter to go deeper into games and trusted Chen to get the job done.
As we all know, it didn’t work out.
Those minor league numbers
Chris Getz is hitting for .435 with a .458 on-base percentage and slugging .609 in Triple A. It’s a small sample size, but there’s still a lesson there: what happens in Omaha, stays in Omaha.