Games » Minnesota TwinsJun10
It’s nice to talk about someone else’s mistakes for a change, so here goes: In the bottom of the third, the Twins had runners at second and third, one down and Joe Mauer at the plate. Mauer crushed one; Mitch Maier got a great read, went a long way and made the catch near the wall.
Meanwhile, the Twins were busy breaking every baserunning rule ever invented. Nick Punto, on third, headed home, changed his mind and slowly came back to tag. This is mind-boggling. There was no reason for Punto to be anywhere but on the bag, anticipating a catch. If Maier missed the catch, Punto could walk home. If Maier made the catch, Punto could walk home.
Rule No. 1: If you’re on third with less than two outs, tag up on fly balls to the outfield. The only exception is a flare hit just behind the infield. You probably couldn’t score on one anyway, so you might as well take a lead in case the ball drops…but Mitch was deep. I think he made the catch on the other side of the Canadian border. He might’ve been asked to show his papers before he came back to the dugout.
This was a no-brainer that Punto screwed up. Meanwhile, as Punto sauntered back to the base, the runner on second, Denard Span, was arriving at third also.
Rule No. 2: If you’re on second with one out and there’s a deep fly ball hit to the outfield, go halfway. The lead depends on how deep the ball carries: shallow, short lead, deep, big lead, but in no case do you assume the ball is going to drop and take off for third. If Span had been halfway and the ball dropped on the warning track, he would’ve scored easily.
Punto starts waving Span back to second (from the replay, I think Span may have tagged third and then failed to retag on the way back, making sure every baserunning mistake possible was made). Span is now racing back to second, trying to beat Maier’s throw that will eventually double him off and end the inning.
Punto has now tagged and is headed home, but isn’t running hard (what are we up to now, four mistakes on one play?) and doesn’t reach home before Maier’s throw reaches second, costing the Twins one run…and what do they lose by? One run.
Rule No. 3: Play hard. A Russ Morman quote worth remembering, “If you have an ‘A’ game and a ‘B’ game, sooner or later you’ll get caught playing the ‘B’ game when you needed the ‘A’.”
The Twins got caught.
Bruce Chen pitched better than the numbers might indicate. He was throwing first-pitch strikes, dropping down and creating more movement and was in control until the seventh. He then struck the first batter out, gave up an infield single, a bloop, a legitimate double and another infield single. He wasn’t getting battered, but he’d thrown 99 pitches and it was time for the change. All those runners scored after he left the game, so his line doesn’t look too good, but he was better than it indicates.
Off the wall…
David DeJesus made a nice play off the wall to hold Justin Morneau to a long single and save a run when Mauer couldn’t score from first. David played the carom perfectly to his glove side. This allowed him to spin in one continuous motion and make a strong throw (if no one’s looking, get up and try it…you’ll see the difference between a ball on your glove side and throwing side). A little detail, well done, that saved the ballgame nine innings later.
Now hitting eighth…
The Royals are back into interleague play tonight, and someone’s about to get screwed. I’m not talking about their social life; I’m talking about whomever gets stuck hitting eighth in the order.
With a pitcher hitting behind him, anytime there are runners in scoring position (and maybe even if the runner’s on first and there are two outs), the 8-hole hitter won’t get anything to hit. Fair enough, take the walk…right?
Wrong. The team NEEDS you to swing, even if the pitches are bad. The thinking is: better a position player take a hack at a bad pitch than a pitcher with a fastball down the middle. If he’s hitting eighth, things aren’t going so well for him to start with, and now he’s got to hack at whatever he can reach.
It’ll get better once the team gets into pinch-hitting territory, but for the first couple of at-bats, the guy hitting eighth will have a tough job.