Games » Boston Red SoxApr9
Ankiel giveth and Ankiel taketh away
I’ve already pointed out that Ankiel appears to keep his hands low and somewhat tucked behind him in his batting stance. This means his hands have a long path to the ball and slows down his swing. I wondered if this would actually help him against Wakefield and his knuckleball, since the main problem hitters face on that pitch is swinging too soon.
Questioned answered: a single, a double and a home run.
In his last at-bat, facing Bard, who throws much harder than Wakefield (well, to be honest, I throw harder than Wakefield … hell, my mom throws harder than Wakefield) Bard went in on his hands and shattered his bat, but give Rick credit, he muscled the ball out into left for a hit and two RBIs.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of night he has tonight against Beckett. My guess is they’ll keep busting him on the hands and, with Beckett’s velocity, it won’t be pretty … but that’s a guess … and I’m the guy who thought George W. Bush could never start a war by mistake and get re-elected.
Ankiel’s mental screw-up was trying to advance to third in the fourth inning. When you’re at second you can’t advance on a ball hit to your right until you see it get through the infield. This is a REALLY fundamental base-running rule that the Royals violate on a regular basis.
And to make matters worse, he probably should’ve been on third already. One down, ball to the fence in right … it’s the classic triple scenario. The fans around me were giving it to third-base coach Dave Owen, but that probably wasn’t his call. As long as the runner can see the ball, he’s on his own. The base coach helps him on the ball hit down the right-field line behind the runner going into second. Ankiel appeared to be tracking the ball all the way and shut it down on his own.
The Butler did it
Speaking of predictions: I saw Billy fielding ground balls in spring training and he wasn’t bending his knees deeply enough. This puts his hands too close to his body. More bend in his knees and he can get his hands farther away from his body and closer to the ball. Go ahead, stand up and try it and you’ll see what I mean.
OK, what all this means is Butler won’t have soft hands. They aren’t out away from him so they can’t give with the ball (this move is called the “funnel”). After seeing him do this in spring training I told my editor, “Watch, he’s going to get a shot hit at him, clank it and let it roll away from him.” Well, it happened last night. He still got an out at first, but blew any chance at a double play.
It’s so rare I’m right I just wanted to enjoy the moment. … OK, as they said in Bull Durham, the moment’s over.
Middle relief has been imploding (three more walks last night) and Trey has said they needed a chance to “settle in” to these roles.
Funny, aren’t these the guys who were just complaining that spring training’s too long? So which is it: You don’t really need six weeks to get ready for the season or after six weeks you’re still not ready?
Plus, these guys HAVE settled into their roles. The same guys who were walking people last year are walking people this year.
Getz and gang
I figure I’m going to do a lot of nitpicking this summer and need to give credit where credit is due: I’ve only seen them in a few ball games, but I really like the way Getz, Podsednik and Kendall have played so far.
They hustle, get down bunts (Getz laid down a beauty last night, but was mistakenly called out for being out of the box), block pitches (Kendall saved a run by knocking down a curve in the dirt with a runner on third in the third) and generally end up with dirty uniforms.
These guys all have holes in their game (almost all ballplayers do), but I was taught to watch the way a guy plays (I don’t know crap about some of the new stats) and what my eye tells me is these guys are ballplayers.
Oh, and Callaspo made a nice play on a bunt the other day. I’ve been burying him and figure it was time to throw a shovel of dirt off him.