Games » Cleveland IndiansSep23
Good start, bad finish
The Kansas City Star
For five innings, rookie Jake Odorizzi looked like the pitcher Royals fans have been hoping to see. He worked quickly, threw strikes, got ahead in the count and gave up no runs. In the sixth inning, he got the first batter, then gave up a triple, a single and a home run.
When you see three line drives in a row, something is up. Pitching coach Dave Eiland came out for a visit. Odorizzi gave up one more single, and that was it. His day was done.
All in all, it was not a bad start to a major-league career. Three earned runs in five and a third innings winds up being a 5.06 ERA, but five scoreless innings in his first major-league start is worth something.
After the game, manager Ned Yost said he didn’t think that the Indians getting their third at-bat against Jake was the problem. He just got a pitch up, and Carlos Santana homered. Later in the clubhouse, Jake said that the Indians getting their third at-bat against him might have been the problem, but he also thought getting a pitch up to Santana was a bad idea.
If things work out as planned, Jake will get his next start against these same Indians, so we will see who makes the better adjustments in the next encounter.
• The bullpen came in with the score 3-1, and things generally fell apart from there. Odorizzi walked one. The relievers walked seven more. Four of those walks scored, and the Royals’ defense contributed three errors. I tell people who don’t watch the team regularly that the Royals usually play good baseball, but this was an ugly game.
• The Royals botched a rundown. The idea is to make as few throws as possible. The key to that is getting the runner going hard and then making the throw to the defender on the receiving end. If the runner is sprinting all out, he can’t stop and will run into the tag. Make the throw too soon, and the runner can reverse course and force another throw.
• Make enough throws, and something bad will happen. And it did. Alcides Escobar tried to make a catch and tag too quickly and missed the ball.
• Catcher Adam Moore (who did a nice job blocking pitches in the dirt) threw the ball into left field on a steal of third base and failed to block a long throw from Jeff Francoeur that forced a runner to hold at third — temporarily.
• To be fair, Moore got what looked like a tough hop, but the ball kicked off at a bad angle and the runner scored.
• Moore also homered in his first at-bat. (Just thought I’d throw something positive in there.)
• Adam caught Odorizzi because they had worked together in the past. But he then had to handle some guys he didn’t know as well. That’s never an easy task for a catcher.
• One last note on Odorizzi: Yost said hitters were swinging through 91-mph fastballs as though they were 96 mph, and that indicates good deception on Odrozzi’s pitches. I hope so. He faces these guys again next weekend.
Sunday morning, I asked Brayan Pena about his first big-league triple. It happened Saturday night, and Brayan appeared to be fully recovered the next morning. Brayan ran about two and a half bases well, but somewhere between second and third he hit the wall.
Ned Yost said it looked as if Brayan popped a chute. Brayan said third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez kept getting “further and further away.”
Having had the same experience, I can tell you the problem. You hit second in good shape, decide to make the turn and run out of gas the last 45 feet.
Pena said he got to third and got his breath back quickly (I was pretty much done for the rest of the evening) and was glad when Jeff Francoeur sympathized with him. Even skinny guys can hit quicksand if they sprint far enough.
It’s Wednesday night. The home team takes the field. The game is about to begin. Bruce Chen, the starting pitcher, has eight warm-up pitches. He doesn’t have to use them all, but eight is all he gets. Meanwhile, right fielder Jeff Francoeur plays catch with center fielder Jason Bourgeois. A relief pitcher jogs out of the left field bullpen to play catch with Alex Gordon.
On the infield, Eric Hosmer is throwing grounders to Johnny Giavotella at second base, Mike Moustakas is at third, and Alcides Escobar is at short. The three field umpires begin to stretch and limber up. They may have to run to a base or into the outfield to make a call.
The home-plate umpire crouches behind catcher Salvador Perez to get a good look at a few of Chen’s pitches before he has to call them balls or strikes. When the umpire is satisfied, he stands up and walks away. He shows two fingers to Perez as he does. That means Bruce has two warm-up pitches left.
Bruce uses his glove to signal Salvador what pitch he plans to throw next. He flips the glove toward home plate palm down to signal fastball. A glove flip palm up means curve. Sweeping the glove sideways means slider. Without these signals, Perez would not know which way the ball would break. Catchers get beat up enough during games. There’s no need to add to the bruises between innings.
Before his last warm-up pitch, Bruce flips his glove back over his shoulder, signaling that he’s ready for Perez to throw the ball down to second. Perez sticks his mitt out to the side, warning Johnny Giavotella that he’s about to throw the ball his way. Gio flips his glove out to the side to show Perez he’s ready.
Perez whistles a throw to Giavotella, who throws it around the infield. The ball eventually finds its way back to Bruce Chen. This baseball ballet happens between every inning, and it’s quite an entertaining show.
That, or I’m easily amused.