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How the 7th inning did the Royals in
The Kansas City Star
“The seventh did us in.” That’s what manager Ned Yost had to say about the Royals bullpen’s inability to keep the Rangers down and give the Royals offense a chance to win the game. Here’s what happened in the seventh:
With the score 3-2, Vin Mazzaro faced Michael Young to lead off the inning. Young saw a 93 mph two-seam fastball for ball one, a 93 mph two-seam fastball for ball two and a 92 mph two-seam fastball that he hit for a home run. That’s three pitches at almost the same velocity and a fastball in a fastball count. Vin got David Murphy to ground out and then walked Geovany Soto. Soto ended the night with a .222 batting average. Mitch Moreland doubled on an 0-2 pitch and runners were on second and third. Aaron Crow replaced Mazzaro, Ian Kinsler hit a sacrifice fly and Elvis Andrus hit a single to drive in the third run of the inning.
Falling behind and throwing a fastball in a fastball count to a very good hitter, walking a hitter with an average in the low .200s and throwing too good a pitch 0-2 helped the Rangers put together the inning that did the Royals in. A walk scored and the Royals lost by one. To be fair to Vin Mazzaro, he pitched well in the fifth and sixth, but the seventh inning did him and the Royals in.
Everett Teaford gave up a three-run home run to Adrian Beltre, but a walk to Josh Hamilton made things worse. Teaford said he needed to be more aggressive, even though Hamilton’s a great hitter, it was still a lefty-on-lefty matchup.
Teaford and Salvador Perez had a meeting on the mound — probably to go over the signs they were using with a runner on second — and used their gloves to cover their mouths. They were preventing any Rangers from lip-reading.
Ryan Dempster flops his glove around while delivering a pitch for the same reason — kind of. Pitchers who tip pitches by the way they hold their glove sometimes move their glove on every pitch to throw the opposition hitters off.
The first pitch thrown to Johnny Giavotella was called a strike. The strike zone used on TV showed the ball as being up, the strike zone used on MLB.com showed the ball touching the zone. As I say about once a week, take this stuff with a grain of salt.
Teaford attempted to pick off Ian Kinsler off second in the first inning but didn’t get him. Kinsler was on second again in the third and this time Teaford pretended he was paying no attention to the runner. Teaf guessed right and used an inside move when Kinsler decided to take off early for third base. Ian was picked off while in scoring position for the second time in two nights.
I wrote about this a couple years ago, but here it is again: Dempster was shown holding the ball in a split-finger grip before he started his motion. Pitchers often start by holding the ball in their most difficult grip, then switch to the easier ones. If they did it the other way around hitters might see them struggle to get the ball in the harder grip.
Vin Mazzaro replaced Teaford with one down and a runner on first. Vin immediately got a double play ball hit to Mike Moustakas. He fed the ball to Giavotella and Johnny buried the throw to first. That’s not scored as an error, but it’s a play that he needs to make.
Eric Hosmer got an in-between hop from Johnny and didn’t come up with it. Short hops are when the ball hits the ground and almost immediately hits the glove afterward. Long hops are when the ball is at the top of its bounce or coming down. In-between hops are when the ball hits too far out in front to be short-hopped and is still on the rise when it reaches the fielder.
In-between hops are the hard ones.
Gio took a 1 for 4 with two punch-outs, but singled off Joe Nathan in the ninth and had another productive at-bat in the seventh when he hit a fly ball to right field to advance Hosmer from second to third. That allowed David Lough to drive Hos in with a sacrifice fly.
Speaking of sacrifice flies: in the top of the seventh Ian Kinsler thought he hit the ball into the left-field bullpen. That’s what Alex Gordon thought as well. Alex wanted to rob Kinsler and ran to the bullpen fence, preparing to stick his spikes in the chain link to help him climb higher. I asked Gordon what happened next, and he told me he had no idea and asked what I saw. I told Alex it looked like he whiffed on the fence, missing it with his foot, fell against the chain link and turned to his left and caught the ball. It looked like a spectacular catch, but Gordon said he was pretty sure he could’ve just stood on the track and caught the ball without all the drama.
You don’t see this every day
In the bottom of the ninth David Lough hit into a fielder’s choice and stood on first with two outs, the Royals down by two. David apparently felt something in his hamstring and was replaced by Jarrod Dyson. Up by two the Rangers didn’t care what the base runner did, they were focusing on Alcides Escober. Esky was the hitter and tying run.
So the Rangers played their first baseman, Mitch Moreland, back so he’d have more range. Dyson wasn’t being held so he took off for second. Alcides singled over shortstop, so Dyson hit the afterburners and just kept going. The Rangers weren’t going to throw the ball to the plate and allow Escobar — and the tying run — to move into scoring position, so Dyson made the turn at third and headed for home.
And that’s how Jarrod Dyson scored from first base — on a single.
Why Billy was sent
Tuesday night Billy Butler scored from first base on a Salvador Perez double. Wednesday afternoon I asked Eddie Rodriguez what went into that decision. Here’s what he told me:
1.) It was the fifth inning and there were two outs. Hold a runner at third, and you’ll probably need another hit to score a run.
2.) The Royals were up 4-2, they could afford to take a chance to score a tack-on run.
3.) The ball split the gap perfectly; halfway between Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, neither one had a short trip to the ball.
4.) The Rangers play their outfield shallow — any ball that gets to the wall has to be chased a long way.
5.) The throw from Nelson Cruz came in low and Eddie could see it would bounce, giving the relay man, Ian Kinsler, a tough throw to handle.
6.) Billy ran hard. Despite the fact that he rarely gets sent home from first on a double, he didn’t mail in his effort.
I asked Eddie this as he came off the field after BP and he rattled off the reasons easily as he walked by. Looking back, at the time the play happened, I think I was barely aware that it was the fifth inning.