Games » Cleveland IndiansSep28
Six in a row
The Kansas City Star
Will Smith threw only three innings, while giving up nine hits and six runs. The Royals led briefly in the 2nd inning, but were down 3-1 by the time the inning was over. It didn’t get a lot better from there. Kansas City lost for the sixth time in a row, bringing back memories of the 12-game skid earlier in the year.
The Royals fought back from an 8-1 deficit, eventually pulling within three runs, but as Ned Yost said afterwards, they’d put themselves in a hole too big to climb out of before the game was over. The Royals lost, 8-5.
In the 2nd inning, Russ Canzler misplayed Adam Moore’s double off the left field wall. The correct technique is to hustle back, find the wall with a hand or glove before the ball arrives and then make the catch. Cansler drifted back and did not find the wall before the ball’s arrival. Outfielders who drift aren’t sure how soon they’ll hit the wall, and that can affect the catch.
Royals fans have been treated to outstanding outfield play all season. Somebody’s teaching these guys well.
After the game, Ned said the team had failed to cash in on early opportunities which would have made coming back later in the game a bit easier. One of those situations came in the 2nd inning: one down, runners at first and third, Johnny Giavotella at the plate. Johnny struck out in a situation where the hitter needs to do everything he can to get the ball in play. A grounder or fly ball can mean a run.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the Indians scored three runs, partially because of Eric Hosmer‘s injured shoulder. Brent Lillibridge shot a single past Billy Butler at first base, but Billy got a piece of it as the ball passed on his right (backhand) side. Everything else being equal — if such a thing is possible — the left-handed and more agile Hosmer would have caught the ball and possibly ended the inning by stepping on first and doubling off Lonnie Chisenhall. Unfortunately, in this version of reality, none of that happened.
In the 3rd inning, Russ Cansler scored from first base on a Chisenhall double. There were two outs and the count was 3-2, so Cansler got a head start. If the ball had been put in play on a 3-1 count, maybe Cansler doesn’t score.
In the 4th inning with nobody out and runners at first and third, the ball was hit to Mike Moustakas. Moose went to second to start a double play, but even if the Royals had gotten two outs, the run would have scored. The Royals were already down 4-1 and letting another run cross the plate might have been the wrong move.
If the infield was in — and it was hard to tell on TV — that means Yost wanted the ball to go home to cut down the run. If the middle infielders were back to turn two, maybe Moose made the right play, but getting down 5-1 in the 4th seems like putting yourself in a pretty big hole.
It didn’t change the score, but, later in the inning, Moustakas made his fourth error in two days. Remember, this is a guy who went 47 games with no errors.
Billy Butler hit his 29th home run in the 6th inning. Add in his 106 RBIs and his .315 batting average and we’re seeing Billy’s best year.
Jeff Francoeur fouled a ball back and it hit catcher Carlos Santana pretty much square in the crotch. Catchers wear protective cups, but when they get hit by hard objects moving at 95 mph, there’s only so much protection. When the catcher needs a minute to get over a foul tip, the umpire will come out and clean the plate to buy time. When the umpire is the one who gets hit, the catcher stalls by going to the mound for a meeting. It’s a professional courtesy catchers and umpires extend to one another.
Salvador Perez singled in the 8th inning, driving in two runs. Even though the runner scoring from second was Butler and he got a bad jump, the throw from the outfield didn’t go to home plate. With a three-run lead and no outs in the inning, the Indians’ priority was keeping Perez at first and the double play in order.
Johnny Giavotella had at least three outstanding defensive plays: he made a leaping catch, started a double play with a difficult stop and made a diving stop and throw home to force a runner.
What firing a manager can do
Manny Acta was fired, so the Indians were being managed by Sandy Alomar Jr. The TV guys were wondering why teams sometimes respond in a positive manner to a manager’s firing. Why do some clubs suddenly start playing better baseball?
I don’t know, but I’ve heard some interesting theories. In Daniel Okrent’s book, “Nine Innings” he theorized that teams can put all their bad feelings and frustrations about the season on their old manager. Maybe he was the problem, maybe now things will be better. A firing can give everyone — players and fans included — a new lease on life. Basically, a firing supplies everyone with a scapegoat.
The Patrick O’Brian historical naval novels explore the same subject: when things were going badly, crews might select a “Jonah” (someone thought to bring bad luck) and blame all their woes on them. The “Jonah” would be harassed into leaving the ship, committing suicide — whatever it took to rid the crew of their bad luck.
Finding someone to blame for your problems might make you feel better and that might make you play better — for a while. But I’m guessing if you were short of talent before the manager got fired, you’re still short of talent after he’s gone.
What to do when you’re bored and waiting for the game to start
If you go back and look at the box scores for the games leading up to the game you’re watching, check out which relievers were used. Most relievers need a day off if they’ve pitched two in a row. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it gives you an idea of the options a manager has that day.
An answer to a reader’s question
Question: Let’s assume a pitcher wants to veto a catcher’s choice for a pitch. How does the pitcher communicate this? Does he just keep shrugging off signs until he gets the one he wants, or can he signal the pitch he wants without giving his choice away?
Answer: Different pitchers have different methods. Some just keep staring in while the catcher rolls through the signs and then nod when the catcher hits the one they like. You don’t see it as much anymore, but pitchers sometimes “add and subtract.” Pants might be “subtract”, jersey “add.” So if the catcher put down one finger for a fastball, the pitcher would swipe his jersey twice (usually with his glove) if he wanted to throw a slider. One finger plus two more, get you to three; a slider. If the catcher puts down three fingers for a slider and the pitcher wanted to throw a curve, one swipe on the pants would “subtract” one to get back to a curve.
(Cleveland reliever Joe Smith appeared to change the sign by swiping his jersey during Mike Moustakas’ at-bat in the 8th inning.)
If the pitcher makes a rolling motion with his hand or his glove he’s asking the catcher to run through the signs again. Catchers will sometimes give a sign while shaking their head. They’re asking the pitcher to shake off the sign, even though he’s going to throw the pitch. It’s a way of planting doubt in the hitters’ minds.