Games » Cleveland IndiansSep29
More difficult than it had to be
The Kansas City Star
In the first inning, Jake Odorizzi walked Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, and Kipnis scored. In the sixth inning, Nate Adcock hit Travis Hafner, and Hafner scored. In the eighth inning, with a four-run lead, Aaron Crow walked Hafner, and Hafner scored again. In the ninth inning, with a two-run lead, Greg Holland walked Carlos Santana, and Santana scored.
In extra innings, Tommy Hottovey walked Santana again. This time he made it only as far as second. In the 12th inning, Vin Mazzaro walked Jason Kipnis again, and this time Kipnis only got to third. In the 14th inning, Kelvin Herrera walked Kipnis again to load the bases with nobody out, and nobody scored.
The Royals won this one 7-6 in 14 innings, but 12 walks and one hit batter made this game way harder than it had to be.
Odorizzi was out of the game after two innings and 65 pitches. I haven’t heard what manager Ned Yost had to say about pulling Jake, but it’s not just total pitch count that matters, especially when those pitches were thrown in just two innings. One 30-pitch inning usually is harder on a pitcher than two 15-pitch innings.
Even though Odorizzi gave up only one run, his fate was sealed after he threw 42 pitches in the first inning. He wasn’t going to get deep in the game. Odorizzi was not getting deep in games in the minors either, and Yost has said he doesn’t need a five-inning pitcher on the staff. It seems as though Jake will have to find a way to be more efficient with his pitches to stick at this level.
Orel Hershiser has said that one of the biggest adjustments a pitcher has to make when he gets to the big leagues is learning how to get hitters out in the zone. Major-league hitters won’t chase pitches the way minor-league hitters will. A slider that gets a swing and a miss in Triple A might get spit on here.
Odorizzi also had a lot of two-strike fouls. Having a “putaway pitch” that produces a swing and a miss helps a lot. I haven’t put a stopwatch on Jake, but he also had two bases stolen while Salvador Perez was catching. Both pitches were fastballs, which might indicate that Odorizzi needs to get the ball to Salvy a little sooner. (If Perez can’t throw a runner out, few catchers can.)
None of this means Odorizzi can’t pitch in the big leagues, but it does show why those minor-league numbers don’t always translate immediately into success in the big leagues. An approach that was working in Omaha needs to be refined to succeed in Kansas City.
(And if I’m wrong about any of this, I’m sure pitching coach Dave Eiland won’t hesitate to tell me.)
• Way back in the second inning, Yost saved a run when he brought the infield in with Cleveland’s Brent Lillibridge on third base, one out and Ezequiel Carrera at the plate. The ball was hit to Tony Abreu at second base, and Lillibridge held at third. He probably would have scored if the infield had played back.
• Irving Falu advanced on wild pitch that didn’t get away from Indians catcher Carlos Santana. As I’ve mentioned before, the Royals in spring training worked on advancing on pitches in the dirt. The usual method is to break for the next base when the catcher drops to his knees. The Royals want their base-runners to break before that. The Royals want their runners to break when they read the angle of the pitch and see that it will bounce in the dirt.
• The Royals scored six runs in the second inning, but it was so long ago I don’t remember how it happened. (Actually, there were two outs. Falu singled. Alex Gordon walked after first base was opened when Falu advanced on that wild pitch. Billy Butler singled. Perez singled. Mike Moustakas doubled. And Jeff Francoeur homered.)
• Adcock came in early and pitched well: three and two-thirds innings, one earned run and six strikeouts.
• In the sixth inning, Perez saved another run when he blocked a pitch in the dirt with Travis Hafner on second and Thomas Neal on first. Salvy’s block kept Neal at first and made sure that only one run — not two — scored when Adcock made a throwing error.
• In the 12th inning, Lonnie Chisenhall blooped a single into center field with Jason Kipnis on first. Kipnis went first to third, and there was no throw from Jason Bourgeois. There is no way of knowing without talking to Bourgeois, but I wondered if he was trying to keep the double play in order by not throwing to third. If so, it worked. The next batter, Casey Kotchman, hit into a 6-4-3 to end the inning.
• The Royals won this in the 14th, and the credit might go to two players who didn’t make plays. With the bases loaded, Cleveland’s Carlos Santana hit a fly ball to Alex Gordon, and the runner on third did not tag up and try to score. With one down, Lonnie Chisenhall hit a line drive to Francoeur, and, once again, the runner on third did not tag and try to score. The game ended on a grounder to Billy Butler at first, but Gordon’s and Francoeur’s reputations for outfield assists probably saved a run.
The kitchen sink
(We’re getting toward the end of the season, and I still have 29 pages of notes that haven’t been used. I’m going to start putting some of that material on the site. This first piece was started after the Royals lost to the Indians on Sept. 23.)
Last Sunday, Jeremy Jeffress came out of the Royals’ bullpen to face the Indians and got them 1-2-3 on eight pitches. Nuthin’ to it. Then Jeremy came back out for the next inning and looked as though he would never get another out.
That reminded me of something someone said in the press box. Aaron Crow gets in trouble if he pitches more than one inning. I didn’t know whether that was true, so I decided to check Aaron’s record and see whether that impression held up. The answer is yes and no. Aaron’s overall ERA is 3.36. In outings where he pitched more than one inning, his ERA is 4.05. In outings where he pitched one inning or less, it is 3.16.
(These numbers don’t include his latest few appearances.)
As always, numbers tell you some things, but not everything. These numbers don’t reflect Crow’s opponents, the score, the defenders behind him, the field, whether it was a day game, a night game, lefty, righty and so on. All those things might have an effect. Change the variables, change the outcome.
I looked for outings of one inning or less, but what if Aaron pitched one inning by getting the third out, sitting, then getting two more? Relievers will tell you an outing that includes an “up/down” takes more out of a pitcher than an outing that doesn’t. Maybe all relievers do worse the longer they pitch. I don’t know. I haven’t checked. And if that is true, we really haven’t learned much of anything about Aaron Crow.
So even though — in my opinion — his numbers don’t give you a definitive answer, they do raise a possibility: Maybe some relievers are good because they only pitch one inning. Fans sometimes wonder why a pitcher who is throwing well isn’t sent back out for another inning, and this might be part of the answer.
Starting pitcher Will Smith said that starters are marathoners, relievers are sprinters. Just because a guy puts up a wonderful time in the 100-yard dash doesn’t mean he could run another 26 miles. (And if you think that is an exaggeration, remember that in my other job, I’m a cartoonist.)
Luke Hochevar and the changeup
In his last outing, Luke Hochevar threw 104 pitches and five of them were change-ups. In the past, Luke told me he wanted to throw the change about 10 percent of the time, but he didn’t do that in his last game.
Hochevar didn’t throw his first change until the fifth inning, which coincided with his third trip through order. This isn’t unusual. Pitchers, if possible, like to save a pitch that the hitters haven’t seen for later in the game.
In fact, how quickly a pitcher breaks out his secondary pitches might be an indication of how desperate he is. But just to make this make more complicated and prove there are no easy answers, a pitcher who went as deep as he could using only a fastball in his last start might want to change that pattern and go to his secondary stuff right away in his next start.
Hochevar was using his curveball right away, and that may have given him the separation in speed he needed. His fastball topped out at 94 mph, and his curve was about 75 mph. His changeup was in the mid-80s.
The only conclusion I’m able to draw from all this random information is that pitching is complicated. (But you might want to check Luke’s final start of the season and see how he uses his changeup. It might be interesting.)
Someone asked, here’s the answer
A base-runner sometimes carries batting gloves in his hands because to hold them requires him to make a fist. That means he won’t have any fingers sticking out that can be jammed or bent back when he slides into a base.
Some runners will simply use two handfuls a dirt to accomplish the same thing. And once in a while, a runner will use a brace that covers his fingers and keeps them protected. (Scott Podsednik did it.)
(Let’s face it: The best thing about this site is it enables its readers to sit in the stands and say things like, “Hey, ya know why that base-runner is holding batting gloves?” and then tell the people around them something they didn’t know. Enjoy the moment.)