Games » Chicago White SoxAug17
The bottom of the seventh
The Kansas City Star
The game turned in the bottom of the seventh inning. Mike Moustakas, who replaced Chris Getz in the lineup (more on that shortly) singled to right. On a 1-0 count, Ned Yost put on a hit and run, and even though Alcides Escobar got a changeup, he kept his hands back and waited long enough to hit the ball through the right side. Moustakas went to third, Escobar was on first and Alex Gordon was at the plate.
Gordon struck out, but Escobar stole second. With two down and first open, the White Sox decided to walk Billy Butler intentionally The guy on deck was Salvador Perez, and he’d already lined out to center and doubled. I wasn’t sure walking Billy to get to Sal was any bargain.
With the bases loaded, two down and behind in the count 1-2, Perez hit a changeup down in the zone for a double. Watch the replay of his swing and you’ll see Chris Sale got Perez out over his front foot, but Salvy still was strong enough to hit the ball off the bullpen gate and drive in the runs the Royals needed to win.
Chicago starter Chris Sale does not finish in a good position fielding position. Ideally pitchers should finish balanced, square to the plate and with the glove up. Sale’s all over the place and couldn’t keep Alcides Escobar from smoking a ball off his pitching hand.
Getz and Gordon lined out in the first, Perez lined out in the second and then Lorenzo Cain homered. If you keep a scorebook while you watch games, figure out a way to record hard outs. Four of the first five hitters in this game hit the ball on the screws. Even though the pitcher is getting outs, he’s living dangerously and you can sometimes see a big inning coming. Hard outs tell you something.
In the second inning Salvador Perez caught a pop fly from Alex Rios. Salvy came out into fair territory to do it. That’s a tough play for a catcher because the ball is drifting toward the pitcher’s mound. Catchers need to get between the mound and the ball and then turn back toward the backstop. It’s easier for the first baseman to make that play. It’s his ball if he can get there — Billy Butler didn’t.
In the third inning Perez threw out Alejandro De Aza when he attempted to steal second. Chris Getz made a nice catch and tag that involved some deft footwork. I usually sit next to former umpire Steve Palermo, and he said it was a nice play all around: the throw, the catch and the call. As Steve pointed out, it wouldn’t be such a good play if the umpire called the runner safe. Steve’s right, for every great bang-bang play we see, someone had to get the call right.
Paul Konerko homered on a 2-0 Luis Mendoza 93 mph fastball that was pretty much “middle-middle.” (In the middle of the zone both vertically and horizontally.) People will often focus on that pitch, but what about the two previous pitches that put Mendoza in a hole? Any time something big happens, back up and see what happened right before the big play. The two pitches that missed, forced Mendoza to throw a fastball in the zone when Konerko was expecting it.
In the top of the ninth with A.J. Pierzynski on first and Alexei Ramirez at the plate, I could see outfield coach Rusty Kuntz on the top of the dugout steps, waving his hand behind his head. This is the universal sign for “no doubles.” It was a reminder that A.J.’s run meant nothing; the Royals were up by two. The runner that mattered was Ramirez, so the “no doubles” sign meant keep the ball in front of you, do not try to throw the runner on second out at the plate. (If you want a complete rundown of the outfield signs, we have a video of them available under “Lee TV”.)
Getz is out for the season
Chris Getz was attempting a bunt and a Chris Sale pitch hit Chris in the thumb. X-Rays showed a fracture. He’s having surgery Saturday morning and will miss the rest of the season. Johnny Giavotella is being called up to play second base.
How to get more on your throws
As usual, it was smoking hot at 3 p.m. in Kauffman Stadium. I was sitting in the shade of the dugout, which is only marginally better than being out in the sun — but still better. I was watching infield coach Eddie Rodriguez working with Tony Abreu on some fielding issues. They were speaking in Spanish and unfortunately mi espanol es muy malo. (See, I told you it was bad.)
As they came off the field, I asked Eddie if there was a short version of what they’d been working on and here’s what he told me: when they have the time, infielders “come around the ball” to make sure they’re in good position to throw to first base. Say you’re at second base and the ball is hit right at you. If you move first to your right and then back to your left as you field the ball, you’ll have momentum heading toward first base.
It’s not a big dramatic movement — only a step or two — and most of us miss it when it happens. Eddie was working with Tony on which foot starts the movement. A lot of people teach left foot first, but Eddie believes you can cut out a couple of steps by starting right foot first. Me, I just always stayed in one place and if the ball hit me I’d pick it up and throw it to first.
But here’s the cool thing Eddie showed me: cock your arm back like you’re throwing a baseball and stop. Look at your palm. Is it facing your head or pointing away from your head? If it’s facing your head, twist your wrist until it’s facing away. That simple movement — cocking your arm with the palm facing away from your head — helps you get more on your throws when the wrist snaps forward and down as you deliver the ball. At my age, this knowledge does me no good whatsoever, but I hope it helps some of you.
(We shot a video of Eddie demonstrating the correct technique and we’ll post it soon.)