Games » Texas RangersSep6
How you score three runs
The Kansas City Star
How you score three runs if you’re the Royals: It takes eight batters, 28 pitches, two innings, a home run, a pop fly, a strikeout, a double, a stolen base, another strikeout, a triple, a groundout and a single. That’s how the Royals got their first three runs of this game.
How you score three runs if you’re the Rangers: Three batters see six pitches, single, homer and homer. That’s how the Rangers caught the Royals in the fourth inning. All the work the Royals did over two innings in order to build a 3-0 lead over the Rangers was wiped away in six pitches to Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre.
Before the game Ned Yost said the Rangers had an “unforgiving” lineup; make a mistake up in the zone and you’ll probably need a new baseball. After the game Ned Yost said, “We can compete with them, but we can’t beat them.”
The Royals did beat them once and lost two games by one run, but any team that can put up 10 home runs in a four game series in Kauffman Stadium, is going to be a handful. The Royals are good enough to give the best team in the American League a run for their money, but most nights, aren’t good enough to beat them.
Luke Hochevar had a decent start; six and a third innings, four earned runs, two walks (one intentional) and five strikeouts.
Ranger pitcher Scott Feldman uses an inward turn (taking the front knee slightly back toward second base in the pitching motion) and pitchers who do that can be slow to the plate. Lorenzo Cain proved the point by stealing third in the third inning.
The Rangers outfield was playing Alex Gordon to go the other way, so when Alex pulled the ball and tripled between Nelson Cruz and the right field line, I figured Feldman made a mistake on an off-speed pitch. He did — it was a 77 mph hanging curve.
It was probably supposed to be a “chase” pitch (one that starts in the zone and breaks out) it hung and Gordon whacked down into the right field corner, away from the defense.
In the fourth inning, with Michael Young on first base, Luke Hochevar delivered a curveball to Josh Hamilton. Luke was using a “slide step” which gets the ball to home plate more quickly, but can also make the ball stay up in the zone. The curveball hung and Hamilton homered. In the effort to stop a base runner from stealing, Hochevar delivered a hittable pitch to the plate.
Salvador Perez picked off his fourth base runner of the year. That leads all of baseball and he’s done it in, what, 54 games?
Eric Hosmer homered and made a highlight reel catch, almost falling into a dugout suite after snagging a pop fly. A fan caught Eric as he tipped over and kept him from doing a header. After the game, Eric expressed appreciation for a fan “knowing what was going on.”
Here are the guidelines: If a player reaches into the stands to catch a pop fly, fans have no obligation to stay out of the way, so…visiting team, fight for the ball, home team, make space.
If a player leans over the rail in his team’s dugout, he knows his teammates will be there to catch him if he falls in. If he’s going over the rail in the opposition dugout, he knows he’ll get no help until after the play is over. Once the ball is caught or dropped, then the other team will do what they can.
With two outs in the ninth, Ned Yost brought closer Greg Holland into a tie ballgame. Ned will use his closer in a tied home game, figuring if the closer gets his team through the ninth, the Royals have two chances to win: the bottom of the ninth and — whatever the opposition does in the top of the tenth — the bottom of the 10th.
Holland got the Royals through the ninth but gave up the winning run in the 10th. Even though Holland gave the team two chances to score one run, they couldn’t get it done, losing 5-4 in 10 innings.
A reader asked about the use of Luke Hochevar’s changeup and I found a chance to ask Luke about it and here’s what I learned:
Hochevar does consider his changeup one of his core pitches.
He doesn’t need to throw it to every batter or even a lot — he just needs to establish that he will throw it.
The same goes with pitching inside; Luke doesn’t need to throw inside on every batter he faces, but he does need to establish that he will throw inside.
If you don’t throw a pitch very often you can lose the feel for it and it won’t be there when you need it.
Establishing a thought in a hitter’s mind is the same reason Luke might start an at-bat with a curve or throw one 3-2 or even throw five curves in a row. All that goes in the scouting report and gives hitters more to think about.
Throwing to bases
Wednesday afternoon Salvador Perez, Brayan Pena and Manny Pina were out for early work, throwing to bases. Before the entire team shows up on the field, individuals or small groups may come out to work on specific skills. The catchers throw on a regular basis. Chino Cadahia and Jason Kendall were working with the catchers, and Tony Abreu was receiving the ball at the bases.
Afterward I asked Brayan Pena where Chino wanted them to throw the ball on a stolen base attempt. The answer? Between the belt and the chest. A throw right on the bag looks great, but it gives the catcher no room for error: come up a foot short and you’ve given the cover man a short hop and a difficult ball to handle. The belt-to-chest target gives everyone a chance to be slightly off and still make a play.
So what about pickoffs?
A throw chest high probably won’t result in an out, so on that play the catchers try to get a little closer to the base, but that puts pressure on the infielder to knock down any bad throw and keep it on the infield.