Games » Boston Red SoxAug27
Not horrible, not great
The Kansas City Star
Last Tuesday Luke Hochevar had a great start against the Tampa Bay Rays: eight innings, one hit, 10 strikeouts and no runs. Six days later, against the Boston Red Sox, the only one of those numbers Luke was able to duplicate was the eight innings. Luke allowed eight hits, had six strikeouts and gave up five runs, four of them earned. Four earned runs in Fenway Park is not a disaster, and Hochevar’s eight innings gave the bullpen some much-needed rest.
This was not a meltdown, but still a disappointing outing after the last one. Hochevar wasn’t horrible, he wasn’t great, but after his previous start, Royals fans were hoping for more.
Jarrod Dyson started the game by walking, stealing second and advancing to third on the catcher’s bad throw. With Dyson on third and nobody down, Alcides Escobar needed to get a pitch up in the zone (that could be hit to the outfield) or a pitch that could be driven up the middle (with the infield playing back). Instead, Escobar swung at an inside fastball and pulled it to third — one of the few balls in play that would not score Dyson.
Alex Gordon did a better job of situational hitting and drove the ball in the air to right field. Cody Ross caught it, but Dyson was able to tag and score.
Scott Podsednik started the Red Sox half of the inning by striking out looking. Scott did that a lot — especially for a fast guy who hits from the left side — when he was here in KC.
Jarrod Dyson used the wall to catch Dustin Pedroia’s deep fly ball to centerfield. Some outfielders are intimidated by the wall and slow down when they hit the warning track. The Royals have a group of outfielders who know how to use the wall: jump up, plant your spikes in the padding and use the traction to go even higher.
The bad news is the ball was hit over 400 feet. Hochevar threw three 92 mph 4-seam fastballs to Pedroia, and Pedroia hit the third one a long way. Hochevar then threw four more 92 mph 4-seam fastballs (at least according to MLB.com) to Jacoby Ellsbury, and Ellsbury hit the fourth one out of the park — barely — in right.
That’s a lot of 92 mph 4-seam fastballs in a row, especially for a guy who’s supposed to be getting “separation” in speeds.
In the thirrd inning Podsednik did a better job of protecting with two strikes, fouling a couple pitches off before singling to right. Pedroia also singled and then miscommunication cost the Royals another run: with a runner on second base the signs the catcher gives the pitcher get more complicated. If someone forgets the sequence it’s not unusual to see a cross up. The catcher expects one pitch and gets another. Fans will know when a wild pitch or passed ball is a cross up because the catcher will immediately visit the mound to straighten things out.
Perez met with Hochevar, but the damage had been done: Podsednik and Pedroia had advanced a base so when Cody Ross hit a ball off the wall, two runs scored instead of one.
Alex Gordon — who played the Green Monster well all weekend — grabbed the carom and threw Ross out at second to end the inning.
On an 0-2 count to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Perez signaled Hochevar to throw the ball up out of the zone. Luke missed in the zone and the Red Sox catcher pulled the ball into the left field stands. Saltalamacchia eventually grounded out to Eric Hosmer, but missing his target by a foot or so helps explain what was going on with Hochevar in this game.
Johnny Giavotella seemed to be more aggressive on hittable pitches early in the count and singled and doubled. The double went off the left field wall and once again Podsednik got too close to the wall, the ball bounced over him and once again Jacoby Ellsbury was in position to make the play.
Gordon hit his 42nd double of the season, many of them hustle doubles. Right fielder Cody Ross throws left-handed and the ball was in the right center gap. That meant Ross would have to make an awkward pivot and have little momentum behind his throw. Good base runners pay attention to this kind of stuff and know when they can push it on the base paths.
Gordon then advanced on Salvador Perez’s F9. With two down, getting to third is usually not that big a deal, but as we’ve been seeing all weekend, scoring from second on a single to left in Fenway Park is not a sure thing.
In the 6th Dyson got too close to the wall and Gordon backed him up. (Gordon and Ellsbury need to make an instructional video.)
Luke Hochevar will sometimes use a “quick pitch” to upset a hitter’s timing. As long as the hitter is in the box and set, it’s not illegal. Luke often does it with two strikes and hopes to catch the hitter off-guard for a called strike three. He tried it with an 0-2 count on Podsednik and Scott was ready, lining the ball into center field.
Once Podsednik got to first, he stared at the mound and then started laughing. The camera shot did not include Hochevar, but I’m guessing Luke said something about Scott — an ex-teammate — not being fooled by the tactic.
The Royals last chance
After seven innings and 101 pitches, Bobby Valentine pulled Daisuke Matsuzaka. Daisuke has the reputation of working slow and nibbling, but Monday afternoon he was working quickly and throwing strikes. When a starting pitcher is dominating, Plan B usually goes like this: stay close, get the starter out of the game and win it against the bullpen.
So when Clayton Mortensen replaced Matsuzaka, the Royals needed to get something going in a hurry. They had six outs to work with and needed four runs, not impossible in Fenway. And if they could get all four runs in the eighth, they might keep the Red Sox from using Andrew Bailey (their current closer who’s sporting a 1.69 ERA) in the ninth.
Mortensen started by striking out Alcides Escobar, then gave up a single to Alex Gordon. (According to Steve Physioc that was Gordon’s 48th multi-hit game, the third most in the American League.)
Time out: I’ve been praised for giving credit when I use information I get from another source, but it’s not that I’m such a great guy — if the numbers are wrong I want you to blame Steve.
Ok, where were we? Oh, yeah, Gordon singled and so did Billy Butler. Salvador Perez was at the plate and the tying run was on-deck. Unfortunately, Bobby Valentine was not going to let the Royals get anything going against Mortensen and replaced him Vicente Padilla. After two quick strikes Padilla got Perez to hit the ball on the ground and a quick 4-6-3 double play later and the Royals’ threat was over.
The Royals start a 10-game home stand. They’ll face Detroit, Minnesota and Texas before heading back out on the road. Tuesday night the scheduled starters are Justin Verlander and Luis Mendoza.
Royals coach Eddie Rodriquez shows Lee Judge proper throwing technique
Kansas City Royals coach Eddie Rodriquez shows Lee Judge proper baseball throwing techniques. 8/17/12 (Video by John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)