Games » Chicago White SoxJul15
A pitchers’ duel
The Kansas City Star
Luis Mendoza pitched well. Last year’s Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year gave up four hits, struck out six, threw eight innings and surrendered only two earned runs. Unfortunately, Chicago’s Chris Sale pitched slightly better. Sale gave up 10 hits, but only one run. The Royals lost 2-1.
Key moments in the game
First inning: When Chicago’s Adam Dunn stepped to the plate with two outs, the Royals put on a left-handed shift. Third baseman Mike Moustakas was playing where the shortstop usually stands, shortstop Alcides Escobar was behind second base and second baseman Chris Getz was on the outfield grass. Before the game, Getz said he didn’t mind these shifts as long as the grass wasn’t wet (although he told me a funny story about a ball hitting the lip of the grass in Oakland, coming up and nailing him in the forehead).
Apparently wet grass makes for poor footing and wet baseballs. Sunday it was bone dry, but it didn’t make a difference. Dunn hit an 82 mph changeup over the shift into the right-field seats.
Second inning: Chicago’s Alex Rios led off with a single, A.J. Pierzynski was hit by a pitch and Dayan Viciedo got jammed so badly that no Royal could make a play. One legitimate hit, and the bases were loaded. Alexi Ramirez then hit a sharp grounder to third and Moustakas — who is turning into an outstanding third baseman while we watch — started a highlight-reel double play. Unfortunately, a run scored while he did it. The Sox were up 2-0, and that was all they needed with Chris Sale on the mound.
In the bottom of the inning, the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain led off with a double, and Yuniesky Betancourt tried to move him to third base by hitting the ball to the right side. Yuni did hit the ball to the right, but his fly ball wasn’t deep enough to allow Cain to move to third. Jeff Francoeur followed with a fly ball to center that would have been a sac fly if Cain had been on third base.
Third inning: Alex Gordon battled the sun while making a catch on a Paul Konerko fly ball. Fans can spot when an outfielder is having trouble with the sun. The outfielder will turn his body sideways. Turning sideways can put a new background behind the ball. Gordon made this technically difficult play look easier than it was.
Fifth inning: Mike Moustakas hit a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Salvador Perez then succeeded where Betancourt failed. Perez hit the ball to the right side, but this time it was on the ground. Moose was able to advance to third. With a runner on third and one out, the batter can try to hit the ball in the air. If he gets it to the outfield, the runner can tag and score. Getz did this, the ball dropped, Mike scored and Chris had a single and an RBI.
Eighth inning: In the bottom of the inning, Escobar and Billy Butler singled. Jarrod Dyson came out to run for Butler. Despite the fact that Sale is slow to the plate, the Royals didn’t attempt to steal a base. I asked Getz about this after the game, and Chris said Sale’s motion was jerky and difficult to read.
With the stolen base off the table, Cain was hitting away. Lorenzo drilled a line drive to left, and Escobar did not go back to tag second on the play. Here’s why. The left fielder, Vicideo, was making the catch too close to third base for Escobar to advance from second. Betancourt followed with a grounder back to the pitcher, and the White Sox turned a 1-6-3 double play to get out of the inning.
Questions and answers
Is the bullpen being overworked?
I asked pitching coach Dave Eiland this question, and here was what he told me. Relief pitchers should not increase their workloads by more than 25 to 30 innings pitched over the previous season, maxing out at 90 to 100 innings. That’s a general statement. Every guy is different. Some can do more, others less.
Generally, if a reliever throws two days in a row, he gets the next day off. Once in a while, a pitcher may go three days in a row, but it depends on the pitcher and the situation. A reliever may throw four out of six days, but not five out of seven. The coaches also count the number of times a reliever gets up, even if he doesn’t pitch in the game (this is known as a “dry hump” in baseball slang).
Following Eiland’s formula, here are the 2011 innings pitched, followed by the maximum number of innings that should be pitched in 2012.
Jose Mijares: 2011 innings pitched: 49; maximum number of 2012 innings: 79
Greg Holland: 2011 innings pitched: 60; maximum number of 2012 innings: 90
Jonathan Broxton: 2011 innings pitched: 12.2 (injured); 2010 innings pitched: 62.1; maximum number of 2012 innings: (no clue how they figure this one)
Aaron Crow: 2011 innings pitched: 62; maximum number of 2012 innings: 92
Kelvin Herrera: 2011 innings pitched: 44.2; maximum number of 2012 innings: 74.2
Tim Collins: 2011 innings pitched: 67; maximum number of 2012 innings: 97
Bear in mind that this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule and that the guys we’re concerned about are the six relievers, not the long relievers who have been shuttled back and forth from Omaha to make spot starts. Also remember that these numbers are based on everyone maxing out in 2012, which probably won’t happen, but the numbers give you some idea of the pace each pitcher is on.
Why did Ned Yost pinch-hit Lorenzo Cain Saturday night?
Here was the situation: The Royals led 5-3. It was the eighth inning. There was one out. Mike Moustakas was on third, Jeff Francoeur was on second and left-handed reliever Hector Santiago was on the mound for Chicago. Jarrod Dyson was scheduled to hit.
Got all that?
On the surface, sending the right-handed Cain to pinch-hit against a left-handed reliever made sense. So why didn’t Robin Ventura, the White Sox manager, counter with a right-handed reliever? I asked that question Saturday night, and Yost suggested I look at the numbers. I did.
To understand, you have to go a couple layers deeper into managerial thinking. Cain (in a very small sample size) has hit .267 against right-handed pitchers and .167 against left-handers. Left-handed reliever Santiago has actually been harder on right handers (.197) than left-handers (.302), so now we know why Ventura didn’t counter with a righty.
Next question: If those things are true, why did Ned pinch-hit Cain for Dyson?
Dyson hasn’t exactly crushed lefties, either (.226), and Ned thought Jarrod was more likely to hit a ground ball and Cain was more likely to hit a fly ball. The Royals didn’t need a hit in this situation. All they needed was a ball in play — as long as it was hit in the air. Yost’s move worked. Cain hit the ball in the air to left field, and the Royals scored a run.
Why isn’t Eric Hosmer being sent back to the minor leagues?
When Hosmer first came up to the majors, the league pitched and defended him a certain way. Now the league has adjusted, and Eric needs to adjust back. He can’t make that adjustment in Omaha. Hosmer needs to face the best pitching in order to polish his game. The pitcher here can do things that pitchers in Triple A can’t. Hosmer needs to see the best to be the best.
Is there a downside to Escobar hitting two home runs Saturday night?
Yes, if he gets pull-happy. Escobar’s game is hitting the ball up the middle and the other way. He needs to let the home runs happen when he gets the right pitch inside. If he tries to make the home runs happen, he can get in trouble. (Sunday he struck out twice, but he also singled up the middle and to the opposite field.)
How does Chris Getz feel about being the new third-string catcher?
With the departure of Mitch Maier, Getz is now the third-string catcher. I asked Getz when he last caught, and he said when he was 13. So Getz knows how to put the equipment on, and that’s about it. That’s the thing about “emergency catchers”: If it’s not an emergency when they come on the field, it soon will be.