Games » Los Angeles AngelsMay31
I once read an interesting study about sports fans’ attitudes. It said that if their team won, fans thought it was because their team performed well. If their team lost, fans thought it was because their team performed poorly. It was as if the other team didn’t exist.
Fans seldom thought that their team performed poorly, but the other team played worse. Or their team played well, but the other team played better.
The last three games brought this study to mind. The Royals faced Clay Buchholz, 2.73 ERA, Jon Lester, 2.97 ERA, and Ervin Santana, 3.43 ERA. In other words, they faced good pitchers who also had good days. It’s no fun to lose three in a row, but worry more when the Royals face mediocre pitchers who have good days.
Joel Pineiro (4.95 ERA, 3 wins, 5 losses) pitches for the Angels tonight, so pay attention. His performance will tell you more about whether the opposition’s pitching has been good or the Royals’ offense has been bad.
Give credit to Aviles…
In the top of the second, Mike Aviles made a dive to keep a Jason Kendall throw on the infield. It’s a small thing in 7-1 loss, but it’s the kind of hard-nosed baseball play that will pay off in a close game.
The contact play…
Frank White and Ryan Lefebvre talked about a possible “contact play.” This is a play often run with one down and a runner on third and, unless the runner is very fast and smart, the infield back.
If the runner on third base reads the ball coming at a down angle off the bat, he breaks for home. If the ball is hit anywhere but back at the pitcher (or one of the corner infielders if they’re in), the runner will be safe. If the ball’s hit at the pitcher, the runner will be out and it will look awful. It’s a gamble, but one that pays off often.
If the pitcher ends up holding the ball with the runner halfway home, the runner’s job is to stay in a rundown long enough to let the batter get all the way around to second. That way you still have a runner in scoring position with two outs.
The contact play is also run with runners at first and third. It’s better to have one runner thrown out at the plate than have the runner on third stand there and watch the defense turn a double play.
In a possible sacrifice bunt situation, the pitcher will often throw over to first before delivering a pitch home. This is a decoy: the real action is at the plate. The defense wants to see if the batter will give the bunt away by starting to square around.
Everybody knows this is coming, and it rarely fools anybody, but it doesn’t cost you a thing and you might as well do it for the one time the batter does give something away.
Going over once, twice, but not three times…
Former umpire Steve Palermo told me pitchers will go over to first two times in a row, but seldom three. So after two pickoff attempts, putting the runner in motion is a good bet. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s something I’m starting to watch for.
I think Jose Guillen is leading the Western Hemisphere in getting hit by pitches. If not, he’s right up there. Not one of the categories a hitter dreams about leading. If you lead in average, you get a silver bat. If you lead in getting hit by pitches, all you get is a purple bruise.
It’s happening because Jose will chase pitches inside off the plate. Pitchers aren’t afraid to go inside if they think the hitter will pull them foul. It’s a quick way to get ahead. (Pitchers might not be afraid, but fans sitting behind the third base dugout ought to be scared to death.)
Guillen’s getting hit when pitchers go inside to make him chase and get too far inside.