Games » Detroit TigersSep27
The Royals beat the Royals 5-4
The Kansas City Star
The headline’s right, Thursday afternoon the Royals beat the Royals. It took five errors, three unearned runs, two walks that scored and an infield double, whatever that is. Mike Moustakas made his first error in 47 games when he tried to field a Quintin Berry grounder and his second error in 47 games when he tried to throw it to first. When ballplayers get in a hurry, bad things happen.
Mike made his third error of the game in the 9th inning on a double play ball that would have sent the game to the 10th. At the time, there was one down and runners on first and second. Mike’s error kept the inning alive; one down and the bases loaded. Alex Avila hit the ball to Brayan Peña at first base (he replaced Eric Hosmer who injured his shoulder earlier in the game) and Brayan dove toward the line, knocking the ball down.
Peña grabbed the ball and touched first for the second out of the inning. I’ve already heard criticism of Brayan for not throwing the ball home, but I’ve seen the play and there’s no way he could make that play. Don Kelly, fast enough to steal a base on Salvador Perez the night before, was the pinch runner on third and had Brayan thrown the ball home, Kelly still would have scored.
The weird thing about the game is while the defense was bad enough to lose the game, it was also good enough to keep the Royals close. David Lough caught a ball 420 feet from home plate (and that’s all the feet there are in Detroit’s centerfield) off Prince Fielder. Alex Gordon made a diving catch in foul territory and had two more outfield assists. On one of those throws, Johnny Giavotella made an acrobatic catch and tag to record the out.
But it still wasn’t enough, the Royals lost, 5-4.
P.S. If it makes anyone feel better, the guy who is probably very mad at himself right now — Mike Moustakas — works as hard or harder than anybody on his defense. It’s not an accident that people are talking about Moose winning a Gold Glove in the not too distant future. I go to all the early work I can, and Mike’s out there on a regular basis, taking extra grounders. Moose had a bad day, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.
Major league teams look for patterns and when they find them, take advantage. Luis Mendoza threw a first-pitch fastball to 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced. Five of those hitters got hits. After Dave Eiland visited the mound in the second inning (and I’ve got no idea what Dave said), Mendoza began to mix in first-pitch curves and sliders.
That doesn’t mean getting ahead with the fastball was a bad idea. If they’re well located, you can throw fastballs all day. But like I said, everybody’s looking for patterns and the first side to recognize a pattern has an advantage. If the Tigers recognized that Mendoza was throwing first-pitch fastball strikes, the Royals needed to recognize that the Tigers were up there hacking.
After Eiland’s visit, Mendoza pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
Doug Fister set a team and league record for consecutive strikeouts with nine. Fister set the record against a team that’s hard to strike out, so hats off. As you may have noticed, I didn’t cite the strikeouts as one of the reasons the Royals beat themselves. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the opposition.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Alcides Escobar made the fourth error of the game. Pitchers might feel frustration, but can’t show it. Defense saves pitchers all the time, what would pitchers think if defenders glared at them every time they allowed a hard hit ball? You win as a team and lose as a team.
The walk that scored was Austin Jackson. Mendoza had two outs in the 2nd, gave up an infield hit to Omar Infante and had first base open after Infante moved to second base on Esky’s error. There are two ways to look at the walk to Jackson: Mendoza got too fine in an effort to strike Jackson out or Mendoza tried to get Jackson to chase borderline pitches and didn’t mind walking him with a bag open. Since I haven’t talked with Luis, I don’t know whether either of those versions is accurate. (And there may be a third version I haven’t considered.)
The next batter, Quintin Berry, hit the ball down the right field line. Hosmer injured his shoulder while diving for it.
Peña came out to play first base. If Yost had used Billy Butler to play first, the Royals would have lost the DH. During batting practice, Brayan often takes grounders at third or throws at first base. When he leaves the field, he smiles and says, “You never know.” He’s right, you don’t.
Alcides Escobar dove for a bloop hit in the outfield and apparently hurt his shoulder and also came out of the game. Esky’s last throw was offline and Peña had to come off the bag at first, catch the ball and tag the runner.
The Royals started their comeback when Mike Moustakas hit a double to start off the 8th inning and Jeff Francouer followed with a double of his own. Peña stepped to the plate with nobody down and a runner on second. He moved Jeff to third with a groundout to the right side.
Even though Brayan was instrumental in getting another run home (Giavotella drove in Francoeur with a groundout), it seems unlikely that Peña was asked to move the runner over. Eddie Rodriguez can signal the batter to move the runner or to drive the runner in. Down by three with six outs to go, giving up an out to move 90 feet seems like a bad trade. If there’s another way to look at this, I’m sure Eddie will let me know when the team gets home.
Still in the 8th, David Lough singled with two outs, then advanced to second on a passed ball. Tony Abreu — hitting for Escobar — singled, driving in Lough. The Tigers cut off the throw because Lough’s run didn’t mean anything. Abreu was the tying, run and they wanted to keep him on first.
With one down in the top of the 9th inning, Joaquin Benoit came in to face Billy Butler. Billy homered to right field on a 1-1 pitch. That tied the game, but it wasn’t enough, the Royals still had to play the bottom of the 9th and it didn’t go well.
In the 7th inning of Wednesday night’s game, Ned Yost put on a hit and run with one down, Irving Falu on first and Alcides Escobar at the plate. The Detroit Tigers pitched out, Escobar tried to foul off the high and away pitch, but missed, and Falu was trapped between bases in a rundown.
Give credit to Detroit manager Jim Leyland. He, or someone on his team, saw something that indicated hit and run, picked up on a Ned Yost pattern or just got plain lucky. Whichever, the pitchout ended Kansas City’s best chance to score a go-ahead run late in the game.
Leyland still manages from the top step of the dugout. (If you see a manager back on the bench, telling stories, he’s not doing his job.) Leyland is still into every pitch, still comes out for early work and hits fungos, still appears to be one of the better managers in the game. I don’t know for sure, I’m not around that team, but Leyland still looks locked in after all these years.
OK, that’s it — I just thought we should all appreciate a guy doing his job.
How replacement refs are like rookies
One of the complaints about the NFL replacement refs was interesting: the game was moving too fast for them. It’s the same thing you hear about minor leaguers when they first get to the big leagues: the game at its highest level is fast, and it takes some adjusting. Until the player — or referee — makes that adjustment, they’ll be a step late. They’ll make mistakes because the game is coming at them too quickly. Eventually, some guys can slow the game down, but some guys can’t.
The guys who can, stay — the guys who can’t, go.