Games » Seattle MarinersJul27
The Kansas City Star
The Royals are now tied with the Minnesota Twins for last place in the division. There are reasons for this. Kansas City has lost three-fifths of its starting rotation and has had injuries to its starting catcher, center fielder and closer. A team that was remarkably lucky in terms of injuries in 2011 has been remarkably unlucky in 2012.
Injuries aside, the Royals also are in a stretch of poor play. The Seattle Mariners, hitting .223 against everybody else, are hitting well over .300 against the Royals. In this series, the Royals have had six hits and scored two runs in the last 18 innings against another last-place team.
The only good thing about the way the Royals have been playing since the All-Star break is that it will be very hard to keep playing this poorly. Let’s hope the turnaround starts soon.
First inning: Alex Gordon takes the first pitch of the game, a 90-mph fastball for a strike on the outer half. Leadoff hitters often take the first pitch of the game in hopes of having a long at-bat and forcing the opposing pitcher to show all his pitches early. Pitchers, on the other hand, want to reveal as little as possible and will often go as far as they can throwing nothing but fastballs. Gordon sees five pitches, all fastballs, and grounds out to short.
Seattle’s Blake Beavan throws his first breaking pitch of the game to Alcides Escobar. It’s a slider, the eighth pitch of the game. Alcides singles, and Royals first-base coach Doug Sisson can be seen leaning in to Escobar’s ear, reminding him of Beavan’s delivery time. (Doug either said “1.4,” or I’m a lousy lip-reader.)
This isn’t revealing anything — both teams know every pitcher’s delivery time. Based on those times, both teams also know who is likely to steal. A pitcher’s delivery time of 1.4 is about average, and, assuming that Seattle catcher John Jaso is also about average when throwing a ball to second base (2.0 seconds), the guys who can straight steal are probably Escobar, Chris Getz and Lorenzo Cain, when he’s healthy.
Other players in the lineup would be the situational base-stealers (Gordon, Jeff Francoeur and Eric Hosmer), who can steal a base if the Royals can pick a breaking pitch to run on. (Friday night, the Royals fell behind early, and the stolen base was never a factor.)
In the bottom of the inning, Hosmer gets a ground ball hit by Seattle’s Michael Saunders and, instead of flipping the ball to pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, decides to tag first himself. Replays show Hosmer beat Saunders to the bag, but the umpire calls the runner safe. Eric’s decision makes what should a routine play a bang-bang play, and the Royals pay the price when Jaso hits a three-run home run, driving in a runner who should have been out.
Second inning: With Billy Butler on third and nobody out, Mike Moustakas is looking for a pitch up in the zone, a ball he can elevate and hit to the outfield, scoring Butler. Beavan gives Moose two fastballs up, but too high up. Mike fouls one back, then pops the next fastball to third base.
When a player fails, he often asks a teammate to “pick me up.” He’s hoping the next guy can do something to erase the mistake he just made. Salvador Perez picks up Moustakas, hitting a sacrifice fly and driving in the run that Mike left on third. Mariners 3, Royals 1.
In the Mariners’ half of the inning, Guthrie gives that run, and another one, right back. The Mariners have sent 14 batters to the plate, and the Royals haven’t gotten all the way through their order yet. Long reliever Everett Teaford is already warming up.
Third inning: Guthrie seems to make an adjustment and will not give up another run for the next three innings. In the first two innings, despite the fact that many of Guthrie’s pitches were down in the zone, the Mariners were dropping the bat head and effectively golfing balls mid-thigh or lower. TV announcers Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler discuss “downhill angle” on pitches and whether Guthrie’s release point is so low that even pitches down in the zone are hittable since they’re still relatively flat.
That could explain balls down in zone getting hit, but if this is what’s happening, there’s no way pitching coach Dave Eiland hasn’t noticed. Guthrie has only been with the Royals a short while, and if his release point needs to be altered, that will take some time.
Fourth inning: Hosmer starts a 3-6-3 double play, the most difficult double play there is. They don’t happen often. Fans should enjoy one when they see it.
Fifth inning: Francoeur strikes out for the second time in the game. Francoeur has struck out 10 times on this road trip alone. The rule of thumb in the big leagues is that a hitter gets one hittable pitch in each at-bat. Miss it, and the hitter is still at the plate, facing a pitcher who can now reach into his bag of tricks for something off-speed or out of the zone. Frenchy is missing hittable pitches.
Sixth inning: Guthrie gives up his sixth run, a homer to Mike Carp, gets a groundball out, then gives up a hit, and is done for the evening. The Mariners have lefties at the top of the order, and manager Ned Yost brings in Tim Collins, who immediately gets a double-play ball, and the Royals are out of the inning.
Neither team will score again. Mariners win 6-1.
(This was written before Jeremy Guthrie’s first start. So far, Guthrie has avoided leaving the game early, but has yet to come close to giving the Royals a quality start. Nevertheless, I still thought Chris Getz and Jeff Francoeur had interesting things to say about pitchers known as “innings-eaters.”)
Jeremy Guthrie has been described as an “innings-eater,” and Getz thinks that’s a good thing. His theory is you don’t eat innings if you’re not getting outs. Last Sunday morning, before the Royals left on the current road trip, Getz and Francoeur talked about pitchers, and both agreed there aren’t that many true top-of-the-line aces around. Most teams have to make do with guys who may not be headed to the Cooperstown, but if they can get you to the seventh inning with a chance to win, they’ve done their job. Chris and Jeff agreed teams can use more quality-start guys, guys who pitch long enough to avoid middle relief and get you to the back end of the bullpen.
Getz and Francoeur also agreed you need a couple of stud relievers for the eighth and the ninth innings. If your team is leading after seven, you don’t want to lose those games. But if those innings-eating pitchers can largely avoid the middle relievers, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on guys who don’t get used as much.
How a bloody nose may be a dream come true
Seattle’s Safeco Field has a low wall down the left-field line. When the Royals were in St. Louis, I asked Alex Gordon if a similar wall in Busch Stadium bothered him. After all, in Kauffman Stadium, Alex can go into foul territory without fear that he’s going to hit a wall and flip into the stands. Kauffman’s walls are high enough that accidentally falling into the crowd is not an issue.
Contrary to what you might think — or at least to what I thought — Alex wants to make a catch while falling into the stands. Gordon thought that the Derek Jeter grab that had the Yankee shortstop landing face-first in the seats was really cool, and Alex is willing to pay the same price— as long as it’s nothing worse than a bloody nose — to make a similar catch.
That’s OK, I guess. My personal dream come true involves the Nobel Prize and two porn stars, but to each their own.
Someone sent this to me in an email Friday morning, and I thought it was worth sharing.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
(Great quote, but how did Plato know about the Internet?)