Games » Oakland AthleticsAug16
Hochevar pitched well, but...
The Kansas City Star
Luke Hochevar pitched well, but Dan Strailey pitched better.
Hochevar pitched seven innings, struck out five and gave up four hits and three runs — a quality start. Strailey pitched 6 1/3, struck out two and gave up six hits, but no runs. Even when the Royals crushed the ball, they had little to show for it. Salvador Perez lined out to start the ninth and Jeff Francoeur did the same to end the inning. (Cliff Pennington dropped Frenchy’s line drive, but still threw Jeff out at first.)
Billy Butler hit bullets in his first three at-bats, but only got one hit. Butler drove centerfielder Coco Crisp to the wall in deep center, but still wound up with an F8 in the scorebook. The ball Billy hit was a curve. After the game, Billy said he got every bit of that ball, but couldn’t push it through the wind. (The wind was blowing left to right early in the game and Crisp’s homer went to right. Yoenis Cespedes homer went to left, but was hit after the wind died down.)
For most of August, Royals starting pitchers have given the team a chance to win. Luke Hochevar continued that trend last night, but the offense couldn’t take advantage.
Speaking of wind, ballplayers check the flags on a regular basis. For some, it’s the first thing they look at when they step on the field. Wind blowing in makes for a low-scoring game. Wind blowing out makes for lots of offense.
Smart pitchers will use the wind. Say it’s blowing in hard from left field; a pitcher can let a right-handed hitter hammer a ball on the inner half and count on the wind to knock it down for an F7. Check the flags when you’re at the park, and it’ll give you a better idea of what kind of game you’ll be seeing that day.
It’s a simple F7 in the scorebook, but if you wanted to make a training video on how to run a route on a fly ball, you could use Alex Gordon’s catch in the first inning. Josh Reddick sent the ball deep and to Gordon’s left. Alex raced to a spot behind where he thought the ball would land, turned and came back toward the infield while making the catch. That’s a lot of extra running when you could just drift to the ball and make the catch going back, but getting in a position to make the catch while moving forward means a better throw. Jemile Weeks was on first base at the time and Gordon’s route made sure Weeks wouldn’t tag and try for second.
Strailey was pitching well so you might wonder why he came out of the game with one out in the seventh. Even though they didn’t score in the second inning, the Royals made Strailey throw 29 pitches. That meant Strailey was at 99 pitches after 6 1/3. Mike Moustakas was coming to the plate representing the tying run at the time, so Bob Melvin went to a left-handed reliever.
Josh Reddick came to the plate in the fourth inning facing a left-handed shift. Alcides Escobar was playing up the middle and Mike Moustakas was alone on the left side of the infield. Reddick bunted the ball toward Mike and by the time Moose picked it up, Reddick was safe at first. So did Reddick beat the shift? I asked Ned Yost that question afterward. He said getting a guy who has 25 home runs, 60 RBIs and slugs .495 to accept an infield single is a good deal.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Billy Butler just about knocked shortstop Cliff Pennington down with a one-hop line drive. Pennington was already back on the grass, dropped the ball and still threw out Billy at first. Billy’s hitting .301, but it’s a hard .301. That means he doesn’t get leg hits or bloops and flares dropping in, most of the time he’s got to hit the ball hard to get a hit.
Eric Hosmer singled up middle, but ran like he was going for a double. After a big aggressive turn, Hosmer retreated back to first. Running hard out of the box puts a player in a position to take advantage of any mistake the defense makes. Loaf out of the box on a sure single and you can’t take advantage of any bobble or bad throw. Eric also hustled down to break up a double play on a Chris Getz grounder.
Speaking of Chris Getz: in the movie “Bull Durham” Crash Davis asked pitcher Nuke Laloosh what he was doing and Nuke said, “Enjoying the moment.” Crash responded, “The moment’s over.” That’s baseball. No matter what you do, good or bad, there’s another pitch to make or fly ball to catch or game to play. Getz was the hero Wednesday night, but made outs in two bases-loaded situations Thursday night. Enjoy the moment, because it’s soon over.
Jarrod Dyson made three outs in the air and a fourth striking out looking. The Royals need Jarrod to get the ball in play on the line or on the ground. Speed doesn’t help you on an F5.
I’m sitting in the air conditioned press box watching Will Smith run the stadium steps. (Geez, it looks hot out there.) After starting pitchers throw, they run the next day. It gets the blood flowing which is supposed to help rid the body of lactic acid (Who knows? I don’t have a medical degree.) Anyway, after they throw, pitchers run. Sometimes they run up and down the stadium steps, sometime they do “poles” (running from foul pole to foul pole) and sometimes they do laps of the field.
When pitchers get tired, it’s usually their legs that go first. So if you want a strong arm, develop strong legs. I caught up with Will after his workout and asked how long he’d run the next day after a start. He said 20 minutes. Then I asked why I never saw relievers running in the outfield. He pointed out they might have to pitch that night. Will said they do legwork, but relievers are like sprinters, starters are like marathon runners. Relievers train for short bursts of effort, starters train for the long haul. It’s one of the reasons you can’t just throw a reliever into a starter’s role without some preparation.