Games » Texas RangersSep3
The problem with the Rangers
The Kansas City Star
Here’s the problem with the Texas Rangers; they’re really good. It seemed like every time Bruce Chen made a mistake and left a pitch up, the Rangers hit it out of the park. They didn’t pop it up, hit a routine fly ball, a single or foul it back — they hit it a long way.
After the game, Brayan Pena took the blame. He said Bruce trusts him 100 percent, and Brayan didn’t think he mixed it up enough to keep the Rangers from teeing off on Chen. Going into Monday’s game, the Rangers were first in the American League in winning percentage, team batting average, total bases, runs, hits, RBIs and on-base percentage.
Like I said, the Texas Rangers are really good.
In the 1st inning, Lorenzo Cain made a catch off Elvis Andrus in right center and immediately ran into the wall. OK, it’s actually more like a chain link fence out there. Cain ran into one of the out of town scoreboards at field level and those are protected by chain link fencing. The Royals outfielders show no fear of the wall. Some outfielders start to pull up when they hit the warning track, the Royals don’t do that. Fans should appreciate the Kansas City outfielders — I know their teammates do.
If you want to know what Lorenzo Cain experienced, find a chain link fence, run full speed at it and turn and look up into the sky behind you. Easy to get distracted by the looming collision, isn’t it?
Chen broke out a 70-mph curve ball in his last start against Detroit, and I asked him if it was possible to throw one even slower. Bruce said he wasn’t sure, but managed the trick against Josh Hamilton. A 69-mph curve locked up the Rangers center fielder for strike three and the third out of the 1st inning.
Yu Darvish gave up three earned runs in seven innings, but if you watched the game you know those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Darvish was perfect through five, lost the perfect game when he walked Johnny Giavotella on a 3-2 count with two outs, then lost the no-hitter when he gave up a flare off the bat of David Lough.
Darvish was topping out at 97 mph and throwing an even slower curve than Bruce Chen’s at 64 mph. darvish also hit a lot of the numbers in-between.
Adrian Beltre won the Gold Glove in 2011 and showed why in the 5th inning: he snagged a Lorenzo Cain bullet that appeared to be by him and threw Lorenzo out at first. As Bob Dutton said to me earlier in the day, this series features the champion (Beltre) and the heir apparent (Mike Moustakas). Any time the ball is hit to third base in this series, enjoy the show.
Alex Gordon doubled in the 6th inning. Gordon leads the American league in doubles, and a lot of them were like this one: hustle doubles hit to left field. Gordon always seems to bust it getting out of the box and makes a lot of his own luck through hard play.
A guy who didn’t hustle out of the box
Nelson Cruz hit a home run in the 5th inning and took his time admiring his handiwork before starting his jog around the bases. The next time he came to the plate Cruz got hit in the back by a pitch thrown by Louis Coleman. The official version of events is that the Royals were trying to pitch inside to keep Cruz from extending his arms and hitting another home run — the pitch just got away from Coleman.
The other version of events — which no one will verify — is Cruz got drilled for showing up a pitcher. The thinking goes this way: you already hit a home run and now you’re rubbing it in? We’ll show you what we think of that.
When a pitcher wants to send a message, he throws a fastball belt high and behind the hitter. The natural reaction is to back up and that puts the hitter in the pitch’s line of travel. The pitch must also be below the shoulders. Anything around the head is dangerous. Getting hit in the back hurts, but won’t put you on the DL. If Coleman wasn’t trying to hit Cruz, his pitch still had all the characteristics of pitcher intentionally hitting a batter.
And that’s what Cruz believed. After the game, Nelson said he thought it was intentional and also said he was mad at Brayan Pena for lying about it to his face. Brayan and Nelson have played on the same teams in winter ball and are not strangers. Nelson said he was angry that Brayan said it wasn’t intentional.
Either way, Pena did his job: he got between Cruz and Coleman. The benches and bullpens emptied — you don’t always have to fight, but you always have to show you’re willing. Everyone milled around for a bit, Cruz went to first and the game resumed. On the very next pitch Michael Young hit a home run and appeared to be giving Coleman a piece of his mind as he ran the bases. As Jeff Montgomery said on the post-game show, that’s acceptable. Young did not show up Coleman by doing anything fans could see. He just delivered his own message to the pitcher that drilled his teammate.
This may or may not be over.
What actually happened on Sunday
If you saw Alex Gordon give way to shortstop Alcides Escobar in Sunday’s game, there was a reason: even though outfielders coming in usually call infielders coming out off pop flies, Gordon was looking into the sun and Esky had a better view of the ball. So when Alcides called for it, Gordon was glad to give way. (That’s also why Alex gave him a high-five afterwards; Escobar saved Alex from having to attempt a difficult catch.)
Here’s another one from Sunday: in the second inning with one down, Mike Moustakas on third and Lorenzo Cain on second, Tony Abreu singled to right field. Both runners scored, but Abreu was thrown out trying to advance to second on the throw. Whose fault was that?
In a weird way, the culprit was right fielder Chris Parmelee.
First base coach Rusty Kuntz has to think through plays before they ever happen and he saw Parmelee was playing in. So Rusty figured if Abreu singled to right there would be a play at the plate and Abreu would be able to advance on the throw. Here’s another factor; David Lough was on deck. Rather than count on Lough to split a gap and score a runner from first, Rusty figured it was important for Tony to get to second. From there he could score on a single. If Billy Butler were on deck it would be less important to get to second — with Billy’s pop, Tony might be in scoring position standing on first base.
So when Tony hit the ball to Parmelee, Rusty knew just what he wanted to do; he was yelling “go, go, go” to Abreu as he approached first. The plan fell apart when Parmelee came up with a very weak throw (sometimes outfielders get a bad grip on the ball and that affects the throw). With that throw, the Twins had no shot at throwing Cain out at the plate, so Joe Mauer cut the ball and redirected it to second.
I asked Rusty if it was in a sense a “no-lose” play: if the Royals get a runner thrown out at the plate at least they have a man in scoring position and if the Royals get the runner thrown out at second at least they scored two runs. Rusty said he’d be more likely to use a runner to draw the throw away from the plate with two outs, not one.
(And if this all seems pretty complicated, that’s good. This is the reasoning that went into just one play. Baseball players and coaches have to make these kinds of decisions all day.)
Royals Kevin Seitzer discusses his batting philosophy
Kansas City Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer discusses his coaching philosophy to the Star's Lee Judge. September 3, 2012 (Video by John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)