Games » Texas RangersSep4
Jeremy Guthrie is good again
The Kansas City Star
Jeremy Guthrie threw seven innings, gave up two walks, five hits and two runs. He settled in after the third inning and didn’t give up another hit the rest of the way. Guthrie registered a quality start and a win, his fourth.
When manager Ned Yost was asked what Guthrie had brought to the Royals’ pitching staff, he said “stability.” It still is a small sample size, but Guthrie is becoming a pitcher who makes you believe he will give his team a good start and a chance to win every five days.
I’m already looking forward to Sunday.
• According to pitching coach Dave Eiland, one of the reasons Guthrie has been successful in Kansas City is the improved angle on his pitches. As I’ve mentioned before, Guthrie’s inward turn is hiding the ball and allowing him to get it out of the glove sooner. That means his arm has a chance to catch up to his body, release the ball farther out in front and throw downhill.
• Somewhere in that chain reaction, something went wrong in the first inning. Guthrie left a pitch up, and Elvis Andrus, the Rangers’ leadoff hitter, homered.
• In the bottom of the first, Alex Gordon singled with two out. He never advanced beyond first base. Billy Butler grounded out to short, and the inning was over. But Gordon’s hit did something besides pad his stats. It kept Texas’ Matt Harrison on the mound for five more pitches and two pickoff attempts. Guthrie threw 20 pitches in the first inning, and Gordon’s single let him stay in the dugout a few more minutes.
• In the top of the second, the Rangers’ Michael Young hit a ball to Alcides Escobar. Esky short-hopped the throw to first, and Butler couldn’t handle the hop. (Eric Hosmer was sitting out the game against the left-handed Harrison.) Royals fans have gotten so used to seeing Hosmer handle these hops with ease that it was kind of a shock to see one get away.
• Escobar erased the runner with a 6-3 double play. This throw hit Billy in the chest.
• With two outs, Guthrie issued one of his two walks to Geovany Soto. Mitch Moreland doubled and was thrown out trying to advance to third. It was dumb base-running if he wasn’t paying attention to how many outs there were and committed the sin of making the third out at third. It was smart base-running if he wasn’t sure Soto would score and drew the throw away from the plate.
I have never met Mitch, but at this level of baseball, I’d guess it was smart base-running. It put the Rangers up 2-0.
• In the bottom of the second with two runners in scoring position, Johnny Giavotella took a fastball for a called strike. Gio went on to see nine pitches and eventually struck out looking. I’ve already written about Johnny needing to jump on the first hittable pitch he sees, and I wondered whether the first pitch was a pitch he should have hit.
Johnny told me he had never faced Harrison before, and Harrison’s pitching motion had the ball on him before he was ready. As Gio pointed out, it might be a good pitch to hit if you’re looking for it, but if you’re not ready when you get it, it probably is best to let it go.
• In his third at-bat of the game, Johnny homered to the deepest part of the park. I guess he was ready for that pitch.
• In the third inning, the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler doubled, Elvis Andrus bunted him over and Josh Hamilton was at the plate. Yost had the infield in to cut the run off at the plate.
Playing in against Josh Hamilton can’t be too comfortable. Fortunately for the Royals’ infielders, Jeremy Guthrie and everybody else wearing blue, catcher Salvador Perez picked Kinsler off third.
• That allowed the infield to move back and, Hamilton eventually struck out. Once the Rangers lost the runner on third, Hamilton’s AB probably changed. He no longer needed just a fly ball to score a run. With two down and nobody on, a power hitter sometimes will “get big.” He will try to leave the yard or spilt a gap. A single probably means his team needs two more hits to score.
A hitter who tries to drive the ball out of the park usually is trying to hit the ball out in front. A hitter who tries to hit the ball out in front starts his swing sooner and is easier to fool with off-speed stuff.
• Hamilton struck out on a slider.
• The Royals scored two runs in the third. A key play in scoring the second run was Gordon hitting the ball to the right side, which moved Escobar to third and allowed Butler to drive Esky in with a sac fly. No ball to the right side, no run.
• In the fourth inning, Butler just flat missed a throw at first for an E-3.
• Gordon hit a home run on a 2-1 fastball. Any time a hitter is in a 2-0, 2-1, 3-0 or 3-1 count, check the radar reading on the scoreboard after the pitch is thrown. If it is 90 mph or faster, the hitter probably got a fastball and a helluva swing at a pitch he was expecting. (Unless the pitcher mixes it up in those counts. That’s what the good pitchers do.)
• Perez doubled and Butler scored from first. Billy has cost Perez some RBIs with his lack of speed and this time Billy got a run on the board — which is why everyone was giving him a hard time in the dugout afterward.
• Speaking of which, third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez had to make some close calls Tuesday night. Eddie sent Lorenzo Cain, Escobar and Butler home and got all the calls right.
• Jeff Francoeur had four at bats and hit three line drives. Two went for singles. One was caught by David Murphy.
• Frenchy made a mistake in the ninth. With Hamilton on first, Adrian Beltre singled to right. Hamilton went first to third, and Jeff tried to throw him out. After the game, I asked Francoeur about that, and Jeff admitted the throw needed to go to second to keep the double play in order. He just got excited about throwing out Josh Hamilton. Fortunately, the throw was low and hard enough that Beltre did not try to advance.
• Butler hit a grounder that ate up Beltre and was rewarded with a single. Apparently the clay used in the infield dirt gets hard when the weather gets hot, and right now the infield is hard and fast. Remember that when you think about range. Some infields are slow because the grass is high and the dirt is soft. Other infields are fast because the grass is low and the dirt is hard. Infielders playing on fast infields will get to fewer balls.
A reader asked whether the next day’s starting pitcher still charts pitches, and the answer is yes. Whoever has the next day’s start fills out a chart and records every pitch: ball or strike, velocity, whether the batter swung and the result of that swing.
I asked Everett Teaford, Wednesday’s starter, about it. Teaford he said that he was charting Guthrie’s game, but in the big leagues it is done in the video room. In the minors, pitchers sit behind home plate and the requests for autographs can interrupt the work.
I also asked Everett if he found charting pitches useful, and he said not so much with Guthrie throwing. Jeremy is right-handed. Teaford throws from the left side. And their repertoires are fairly different. Charting a Bruce Chen start might be more useful, but Teaford still can study stances and hitting mechanics and might find something he can use.
It’s all your fault
First-base coach Rusty Kuntz and I continued our conversation about plays in which your opponent does something wrong and you’re the one who suffers. Rusty said that back in his playing days, he was in the outfield and Rick Dempsey was at the plate. A beach ball came on to the field, and they didn’t have ball girls or boys to come out and handle that.
So Rusty tried to get everyone’s attention, called time and jogged over to pick the ball up off the warning track. Unfortunately — for Rick Dempsey — no one had noticed Rusty had called time, and the pitcher delivered a pitch. Dempsey hit what should have been a two-run double to the gap, but Kuntz was there on the track to deal with a beach ball, looked up and made the catch.
Rusty said that to this day Dempsey will not let it go. Rusty made a mistake. His pitcher made a mistake. And Rick Dempsey suffered.
Grinding it out
It was the morning of a day game, and Alex Gordon and I were talking in the clubhouse. He asked me how I was doing, and I said I’m starting to count the remaining games. People involved in baseball have been at this at least since mid-February, and the finish line is now in sight.
I asked Gordo how hard it was to keep from mailing it in, just going through the motions as the team plays the string out. Alex said you just can’t do that. If you’re in the race, every play of every game is important. You don’t want to miss the playoffs by one game and have to think about the loss your team took back in June because you failed to back up a base.
And if your team is out of the race, every play of every game is still important. Miss hitting .300 by a couple of hits, and the at-bats you gave away back in August will haunt you. And if all you are doing is trying to hang on in the big leagues, every moment on the field counts. Alex, who is known as maybe the most mentally disciplined player on the Royals, said all you need is a good attitude.
Which means I’m screwed.