Games » Chicago White SoxAug18
Don't forget Eddie
The Kansas City Star
Alcides Escobar had four infield hits. Alex Gordon had two singles and a double. Billy Butler had three singles and drove in three runs. Mike Moustakas had two hits, one of them a three-run home run. Eric Hosmer hit a ball 417 feet. Brayan Pena called a good game. And Bruce Chen got a win. A lot of people contributed to this Royals win.
But don’t forget the third-base coach, Eddie Rodriguez.
Third-base coaches usually get noticed when things go wrong. If a runner is out at the plate, the third-base coach is an idiot. If the runner is safe, it was a great slide. Eddie had a couple of bang-bang plays at the plate Saturday night and got the calls right.
Rodriguez once told me that runners could be more aggressive after a rain delay because the outfielders are dealing with a wet ball. I don’t know if the rain the Royals played through figured into Eddie’s calculations (I’ll ask him tomorrow), but for all the times a third-base coach gets criticized for getting calls wrong, we should give him credit when he gets calls right.
• The base that Chicago’s Dewayne Wise stole in the first inning will go on Brayan Pena’s record, but Wise stole it off Bruce Chen. Wise was on second and got a great jump. Pena had no chance to throw wise out at third, so Pena made the right choice and held on to the ball. Stealing third is easier with a left-hander on the mound. His back is to the runner, and he’s not as aware of what the runner is doing behind him.
• The White Sox had a rough third inning. Tyler Flowers had to come out in front of the plate to catch a pop fly — neither corner infielder got there in time — and he missed the pop-up. What the scorebook won’t tell you is this: Flowers was looking up into the rain at the time the ball came down. That’s not a routine play.
• Later in the inning, Alex Gordon hit a flare behind third and went for two. Once again, fielders were dealing with a wet ball and there were two outs, so Alex was trying to move into scoring position where one hit could score him. Gordon Beckham dropped the throw as he tried to make the tag. Alex was safe, and the White Sox had their second error of the inning.
• Billy Butler drove Alex in, and then Mike Moustakas hit a single to right. Alex Rios let the ball get past him for the third error of the inning. Give your opponents extra outs, and they probably will score some runs.
• Jeff Francoeur made the third out of the inning but drilled a line drive off pitcher Jake Peavy while doing so. The ball was hit so hard it bounced to the shortstop, and Alexei Ramiriez picked it up and threw to first for a 1-6-3.
• In the fifth, Moustakas made another one of those diving stops that has people saying he will win a Gold Glove someday.
• With runners at first and third and one down, a fly ball was hit to Lorenzo Cain in center. Chicago’s Dayan Viciedo was on third and apparently doesn’t run well. If Dayan had any thoughts of tagging and scoring, Cain eliminated that chance by getting behind the ball, coming forward as he made the catch and making a strong throw home.
• Eric Hosmer did his job on the play, coming to the middle of the infield and faking a cut of the ball to freeze the runner at first.
• Before the game, I asked Pena what the plan was for that day and he said, “Keep the ball down,” which is basically the plan every day. Afterward, Bruce Chen said he had gotten his “mix” right — fastballs vs. off-speed — and even threw a couple of 90 mph fastballs. Chen said that makes hitters have to respect the fastball and sets up the off-speed stuff.
• Even so, after Bruce was replaced by Kelvin Herrera, it was clear the White Sox hitters had some catching up to do. Kelvin threw his first pitch 97 mph, and Alexei Ramirez hit it sideways into the crowd. If you come to a game and Herrera follows Chen, watch your lips.
Even when they’re wrong
Chino Cadahia, the Royals’ bench coach, was talking to me about catchers working with pitchers. The more trust a pitcher has in the catcher, the smoother the game will go.
When the catcher drops down a sign, if the pitcher trusts the catcher he doesn’t think too much about it. He just executes the requested pitch. If the pitcher isn’t sure about the catcher, the game becomes much more mentally tiring for the pitcher. He has to think about every pitch. Is that the right sign? Should we be throwing this pitch?
Chino said Pena and Chen have a good relationship. Brayan knows how Bruce wants to pitch, so they’re on the same page. “Even when they’re wrong, they’re wrong together.” It doesn’t mean the ball won’t get hit hard, but there’s not a lot of finger-pointing afterward.
A pitcher trusting the catcher isn’t a guarantee of success, but a pitcher who doesn’t trust his catcher has two strikes against him.
Using the pen
After Friday night’s game, Ned Yost said he wanted to use Kelvin Herrera because he hadn’t pitched in six days. The starters have been going deeper into games, and that means fewer innings for the pen. So Ned’s gone from having to worry about overusing his relievers to worrying about underusing them.
Herrera gave up a couple of hits before striking out the side, and the same thing happened to Jeremy Jeffress the night before. He walked the first batter he faced, then recorded three strikeouts (with one hit mixed in).
So when a reliever comes in the game, knowing when he last pitched would give you some idea if he’s rusty or worn out.
When you picture a baseball field, you probably think of grass, but most of the game is played on dirt. Groundskeeper Trevor Vance gave an impromptu lecture about the dirt on the Royals infield and told me a half-dozen things I didn’t know. (Which, to be honest, isn’t that hard.)
The dirt on the Kauffman Stadium infield is from Pennsylvania. I asked why and found out that the dirt is actually a combination of sand, silt and clay. Missouri dirt has a lot of silt in it, so when it gets wet, it becomes very slick. Pennsylvania dirt has more clay in it, so it doesn’t become as slick when it gets wet.
The downside of a lot of clay is that when it gets hot, it bakes like pottery. That’s why you see the grounds crew spraying the dirt with water. If you play on a rec-league field, the dirt probably has a lot of sand in it. Fields that aren’t covered with tarps when it rains will drain better if they have a high sand content.
I have no idea whether any of this is interesting to anybody else, but when a reporter is sitting in the dugout, waiting for batting practice to start, this is the kind of stuff you talk about.
We were told Chris Getz had two pins put in his thumb, recovery would be eight weeks and the Royals expect his recovery to be complete.