Games » Detroit TigersAug28
Moose finds something
The Kansas City Star
Tuesday afternoon, Mike Moustakas found something.
When a hitter’s swing goes south, it does so gradually. Bit by bit, day by day, game by game, something goes wrong. And by the time the hitter wakes up and realizes it’s not just good pitching or a run of bad luck, but rather something wrong with his swing, it can take awhile to figure out just what that wrong thing is.
In the search for the culprit, the motion that is being executed improperly and setting off a chain reaction of bad motions, hitters sometimes look at video. They look at video of bad at-bats and compare that with video of good at-bats. What’s different? What was I doing when I was going good that I’m not doing now, or what am I doing now that I wasn’t doing when I was going good?
Tuesday afternoon, with Kevin Seitzer’s help, Mike Moustakas found something.
His front shoulder. Moose was starting his swing by pulling out his front shoulder. His swing is supposed to start with his hands (and if you think that’s an incredibly subtle difference, you’re right — and that what makes fixing it so difficult). Starting the swing with the front shoulder also pulls your head up. If your head comes up, you can’t see the ball. Starting the swing with your front shoulder also makes your hands late. If you’re not seeing the ball and your hands are late, you’ve got a real good chance of making an out.
We talked about Mike’s front shoulder at about 3:45 in the afternoon. He thought he knew how to fix his swing. Approximately six and a half hours later, Mike Moutsakas was at the plate with the game on the line.
The bottom of the eighth
Despite the fact that Justin Verlander started for the Tigers, the score was tied at 8. Aaron Crow, who gave up the game-tying homer to Jhonny Peralta the in the top of the inning, was still the Royals’ pitcher of record. Greg Holland was warming up in the pen, just in case the Royals took the lead. Brayan Villareal, who winds up very slowly and then throws the ball very fast, was on the mound for Detroit.
Villareal struck out Alex Gordon for the first out, then Billy Butler walked to the plate. Villareal had faced six batters at that point, and five of them saw a 98-mph four-seam fastball on the first pitch of their at-bats. The sixth batter, Jeff Francouer, saw a 97-mph four-seam fastball on the first pitch of his at bat. Butler notices things like that. Billy walked to the plate, got the 98-mph four-seam fastball he probably expected and shot it back through the middle.
Lorenzo Cain came out to run for Billy. With Salvador Perez at the plate, Cain stole second. The Royals now would get two shots at driving in the go-ahead run. Perez, who had already doubled twice and hit the ball hard two more times, popped up to first.
Mike Moustakas, who singled in his first two at-bats, was due up. So Tigers manager Jim Leyland went to his pen and brought in lefty Phil Coke to get Moustakas. Coke threw Moose two curveballs, one good, one not so hot, and the hitter who earlier in the day thought he found something proved it in the eighth inning of a tie ballgame.
Mike Moustakas doubled. The Royals won 9-8.
• If you watched the game, you know that the top of the ninth had its own drama. With two outs and two runners on, Detroit’s Delmon Young hit a long drive down the right-field line. The ball went barely foul, and that was decided only after the umpires looked at the video. The guy who had the best view of anybody — right fielder Jeff Francoeur — said he saw the ball go past the foul pole on the foul side, but he waited to hear the ball hit the pole. It was that close.
When Frenchy didn’t hear that impact, he knew the ball was foul. He told me later that he was prepared to do a “George Brett” if the umpires came back and ruled the ball fair.
• I’m glad the ball was ruled foul, but I sure would have liked to see Frenchy do a “George Brett.”
• The Royals got to Verlander for seven runs in the first two innings, but Royals starter Luis Mendoza seemed determined to give the lead back. Mendy gave up six runs in the first three, but Ned Yost said he had a feeling that both pitchers would settle down. And that’s what happened.
• Ned also said a manager can’t panic too early. If Yost went to get Mendoza after three innings, that would affect the next two days. Fans can afford to focus on the game they’re attending. They’ve spent their money, and they’d like to see a win. Managers have to think about tomorrow.
• Running for Billy in the eighth might have driven some fans crazy, but Perez had already doubled twice with Billy on first, and Billy wasn’t able to score either time. When you look at a hitter’s RBI totals, think about whom he had hitting in front of him. Did they help or hurt his chances of driving in runs?
• In the second inning with runners at first and third, Alcides Escobar squared around to bunt twice. After the game, I asked Ned if those were safety squeezes, and he said no. That was all Esky. When the count went to 2-0, Ned put Jarrod Dyson in motion. That was not a hit-and-run, but a run-and-hit. The runner was stealing the base, and the hitter had the option of swinging.
• Esky swung away and drove the ball past third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who was playing in for another bunt.
• Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder could not handle a couple short-hop throws — the kind we see Eric Hosmer deal with on a regular basis.
• In the sixth inning, Verlander intentionally walked Butler to get to Perez. Even when it makes sense — and there was a runner in scoring position with first base open — the on-deck hitter sees the intentional walk as an insult. You would rather face me than him?
• Verlander went up and in on Salvy with a 97-mph fastball. Salvy pulled it down the left-field line for a double. Hitters usually try to stay cool about it, but getting a hit after an intentional walk is very satisfying.
Hochevar’s last start
I got a chance to talk to Ned Yost about Luke Hochevar’s start on Monday, and I think Ned’s analysis was better than mine. I said that Hochevar wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t great and that was disappointing after his outstanding start in Tampa Bay (eight innings of shutout one-hit ball).
Ned thought that expecting that kind of outing on a consistent basis from a pitcher not named Verlander or Price was a bit much. Yost said Luke kept the Royals in the game on Monday, gave them a chance to win and gave the bullpen a much needed rest. Ned had used some relievers three days in a row and knew he had limited options if Luke didn’t pitch deep into the game.
And according to Yost, being down by six in Fenway Park is a lot different than being down by six in Kauffman Stadium. In Boston, get a couple guys on and hit a fly ball to left field and you’re only down by three. In Kansas City, get a couple guys on, hit the same fly ball and you’re probably jogging back to the dugout. In a park where you can score runs in a hurry, Luke pitched a complete game and only gave up four earned runs.
Looking at it from a manager’s point of view, I see what Ned means. OK, I was wrong. Luke pitched better than I thought.