Games » Los Angeles AngelsJun1
Always keep an eye on third at-bats. The hitters have seen pretty much everything that night and are starting to make adjustments. Managers tend to watch their pitchers closely the third time through the order.
Brian Bannister wasn’t able to finish his third trip through the order, giving up a home run to Maicer Izturis, a single to Torii Hunter and a double to Hideki Matsui before Ned Yost came and got him.
So maybe it was the pitching…
As seemed likely after three tough games against three tough pitchers, the Royals broke out against Pineiro. Ten hits, five for extra bases. Interesting, because Pineiro does a lot of things right. He works quick and kept his pitch count low, but Jose Guillen’s last at-bat might contain a clue. After making him look bad on two inside pitches (so far inside it would take a proctologist to find them), Pineiro missed his spot and put one right down the middle for Jose, who turned it into a fountain shot.
Here’s why Bannister concentrates on getting groundballs: As long as the ball is hit on the ground, it will have to go right down one of the lines to turn into extra bases. So eliminate walks (Brian did for the most part), keep the ball down (Brian also did that for the most part…until the sixth) and the other team has a hard time scoring runs in bunches.
In the sixth and ninth innings, you might have noticed Juan Rivera sniffing his bat. It’s not a new way of getting high (if it were, I’d be down in my basement experimenting with a Louisville Slugger). When you foul a ball back just right, you can smell wood burning. Juan just took a little break to enjoy the aroma, I guess.
The two-out steal…
Two outs with a runner on first is a good time to attempt a steal…if you don’t mind having the hitter at the plate lead off the next inning. If he’s a good hitter, you might want him hitting with a runner in scoring position or, if the runner is thrown out, leading off the next inning attempting to start a rally.
If the hitter is scuffling, you might want him to get his at-bat over with right here. If he gets lucky and reaches base, he’s put a runner in scoring position for a better hitter. If he makes an out, at least he didn’t screw up the next inning.
Another factor to consider (and there are always other factors): anytime you open up first with a bunt or steal you give the opposition the opportunity to work around a tough hitter. In that case, the on-deck hitter has to be considered, or if you’re late in the game, any pinch hitter you might have available to substitute for a weak hitter.
Damn, this stuff gets complicated quick, don’t it?
3 to 5 mph…
It doesn’t seem like much, but when I asked Russ Morman why he tore up AAA ball and scuffled in the majors, he said big-league pitchers had three to five miles an hour he didn’t always see in the minors. Russ said the pitch he would crush in Triple A got fouled back or missed in the majors, and he’d still be at the plate.
After facing Jeff Montgomery a few years after he retired and my best swing resulted in a smoking line drive sideways that almost decapitated the on-deck hitter, I asked him how he ever got hit in the majors.
“Lost three miles an hour.”