Games » Detroit TigersOct1
Four unearned runs
The Kansas City Star
After five innings Bruce Chen had only given up one run, a homer to Jhonny Peralta. Bruce started the 6th inning by striking out Omar Infante and then gave up his second earned run of the game on Miguel Cabrera‘s 44th home run, a 386-foot opposite field shot into the right field bullpen. That was it, those were the only earned runs the Tigers would get all night.
The Royals lost this one because of four unearned runs.
After Cabrera’s homer, Prince Fielder hit a double, just out of the reach of a diving David Lough. The Royals centerfielder did not appear to get a great read or run a great route and came up just short on the dive. (That’s how it looked from the press box — if I get a chance I’ll ask him about the play on Tuesday.) Next, Delmon Young hit a ball to left and Alex Gordon made a diving catch for the second out of the inning.
Johnny Peralta hit what looked to be the third out of the inning — a fly ball to Lough — but it was hooking, so when Lough did a drop step and turned to catch the ball, he was looking over the wrong shoulder.
On deep fly balls, outfielders take a drop step and run while looking back over their shoulder — just like a wide receiver in football. If the ball hooks or slices back to the other side, the outfielder has to take his eye off the ball while sprinting back and turn to look over the other shoulder. The trick is finding the ball again. Lough did this, but when he turned back around, the ball was dying. After doing everything else right, he dropped the ball. That error opened up the inning. Fielder scored on the E8 and Peralta went to second.
Andy Dirks singled on a line drive to Jeff Francoeur and, because the ball was hit so hard and Jeff was charging in, Peralta only made it to third. Francoeur threw the ball to the plate, overthrew the cutoff man and Dirks took off for second. Salvador Perez saw that Peralta was not advancing home and Dirks was trying for second, so Perez came forward, caught the ball from Francoeur and made a strong throw to second base to nail Dirks — but the umpire called Dirks safe.
Chen intentionally walked Avisail Garcia to load the bases and get to the No. 9 hitter, Gerald Laird. The best laid plans of mice and Chen went astray when Bruce fell behind Laird 3-1 on four sliders, threw a fastball in a fastball count and Laird doubled to clear the bases.
The Royals lost this one, 6-3.
Detroit’s defensive set up probably took a double away from Alcides Escobar in the first inning. Esky hit the ball down the right field line, but right fielder Garcia was shallow and near the line. He cut the ball off before it could get down in the corner and held Alcides to one bag.
Watch this alignment in the next two games and see if Esky burns the Tigers with a deep fly ball to right or in the right center gap.
Escobar made two outstanding defensive plays: throwing out Omar Infante in the 4th and Delmon Young in the 9th.
Esky could have been charged with an error on Prince Fielder’s 9th inning single. It was a short-hop rocket, but as Frank White says, just because it’s hit hard doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to catch it. Alcides played the ball off to the side. When it glanced off his glove, it got away. Play the same ball in front, and a bad hop hits your body, and you still have a play. (Easy for me to say, I was watching from the safety of the sixth floor.)
Chen did not give up a hit until the 4th inning. He was working quick and throwing strikes. Those are two good things a pitcher should be able to control.
Alex Gordon got another outfield assist and that makes 51 for the team this year. That ties their total from last year and leads the majors.
When you think of outfield assists, you probably think of strong arms (I know I do), but after watching these guys pull this off for two seasons I think quick release and accuracy have as much to do with it as arm strength.
Here’s another reason Miguel Cabrera is really good: after hitting a home run in his previous at-bat, Cabrera found himself in a 2-1 count against Louis Coleman, a fastball count. Hitters tend to load up in anticipation of getting a hittable heater. Instead, Coleman threw Cabrera a slider. Most hitters would be a mile out in front. Cabrera stayed back and served the off-speed pitch the other way for a single. When it comes to hitting, Cabrera is the whole package: power and average.
In the 8th inning, with Alex Gordon on first base, Billy Butler hit a 2-2 changeup down the left field line. Alex took off running and Billy never moved a muscle. Here’s why: from first base, Alex couldn’t tell if the ball was fair or foul. Standing at home plate, Billy was looking right down the line. If you want to know if a ball is fair or foul, check the hitter: he’s got the best view in the house.
In the 8th inning with two outs, Gordon on third and Salvador Perez on first, Jeff Francoeur singled. Gordon scored and Salvy went first to third. Jeff, hoping to catch the Tigers outfield “lollygagging” tried for second and was thrown out to end the inning.
After the game, Francoeur said it was a “stupid play.” He was not the tying run, the man at the plate was. By trying for second base, Francoeur cost the Royals a chance — albeit a small one — to come back late in the game.
Francoeur stood by his locker and “wore it.” He didn’t make excuses, admitted it was the wrong play and it cost his team. Players who do this get credit for being standup guys. Players who hide in the training room until the media is gone, don’t. (And I don’t know of any Royals player who has the reputation of hiding in the training room after a bad game.)
I need to slide, what inning is it?
Remember when Jarrod Dyson tried to steal second late in a game and slid past the base? After that game, I asked Rusty Kuntz about the play and he told me runners have to start their slides sooner late in games because the dirt dries out as the game goes along. A harder surface means a slicker surface. A slicker surface means a human bullet like Jarrod Dyson will slide further.
Monday I asked Rusty the formula he quoted me that day (I neglected to write it down) and here it is: during a day game the runners starts his slide 12 to 15 feet from the base in the first three innings, 17 to 20 feet from the base in the middle innings and 20 to 25 feet from the base in the last three innings.
(Those guys must be flying — I told Rusty I couldn’t slide 25 feet unless I fell off the back of speeding motorcycle.)
Are you sure about that?
When the Los Angeles Angels were in town, I spent some time with general manager, Jerry Dipoto. I met Jerry when he was a pitcher in the minor leagues and lived here in Kansas City. Every winter we’d work out together, which sounds better than the reality: Jerry would strike me out about a hundred times to get ready for spring training. (93 mph is a lot faster in real life than it looks like on TV.)
Anyway, here’s the reason I’m writing this; while he was here, Jerry said something interesting about every 30 seconds. Here’s one I can share: when the Angels’ top guys get in a room to discuss players, Jerry says he doesn’t want to hear anyone say they know, that makes him leery. Baseball is about educated guesses, not certainties.
When a manager changes pitchers, a runner decides to try for an extra base or a GM drafts a 19-year old, they’re making educated guesses. Nobody knows for sure how those moves will work out — and that’s worth remembering. Certainty isn’t one of the options when predicting the future.
And I never would have predicted a guy who played Strat-O-Matic on my dining room table would one day end up running a major league team.