Games » Seattle MarinersJul5
This game shows the importance of pitch counts and getting into your opponent’s bullpen. Even if you’re not scoring runs, if you can make the starter work, you can get him out of the game and hope to get to someone less effective. Felix Hernandez threw 112 pitches in seven innings, Brandon League comes into the eighth and, bang, different ballgame.
Brian Bannister got an error on a pickoff throw, but Billy Butler did a bad job of knocking it down. The throw got to first in the air and Billy whiffed. Just like a good defensive catcher gives the pitchers more confidence, a good defensive first baseman can do the same for everyone on the infield. I don’t think Billy’s there yet.
Later in the same inning, a ball was hit over Scott Podsednik’s head, he went back, signaled that he had it, hit the warning track, pulled up too soon and made a leap that made it clear he had no idea where the wall was. The run (which shouldn’t have been on second except for Butler) scored and went on Bannister’s record, but he had a little help…very little.
David DeJesus got points for a terrific slide around the catcher to score. OK, terrific in the sense that it worked. It had all the grace of a stock car flipping end-over-end across a NASCAR infield. In fact, I think David burst into flames and had to be put out by a fire crew, but it still looked beautiful to a Royals fan.
DeJesus and Jason Kendall also got points for getting great reads and going first to third on hits in the eighth inning. People spend a lot of time on hitting, pitching and defense (as they should), but baserunning gets overlooked. If you want to boost an offense, look at baserunning. You can pick up extra runs without extra hits, if you run the bases well.
In the same inning, Jose Guillen wasn’t able to go first to third on Alberto Callaspo’s hit (it would’ve been an iffy attempt, the ball was smoked, but the Mariners’ center fielder froze and wasn’t in position to make a great throw). That meant Mike Aviles’ fly ball that followed was meaningless instead of scoring Jose from third.
Betancourt’s pitch selection…
Yuniesky Betancourt’s pitch selection, not good at the best of times, gets even worse with a run in scoring position. He becomes the Will Rogers of baseball (he never met a pitch he didn’t like).
In the eighth, score tied, two outs, bases loaded, with an 0-1 count, Yuniesky went well out of the zone and grounded out 6-3. In the bottom of the eighth, Milton Bradley pinch hit for the Mariners’ starting catcher, Rob Johnson.
In the 10th, Yuniesky comes up with two outs and Mitch Maier on third representing the winning run. Chad Cordero is now pitching, and he gets two quick strikes on Betancourt. I’m thinking “throw a breaking pitch in the dirt and this inning’s over,” but it’s a slider in the zone that Yuniesky drives into the outfield to score the winning run.
This part’s speculation, but I wondered if Josh Bard (who was now behind the plate) was not so hot at blocking pitches, and that prevented Cordero from burying one. (Hey, back to my “unseen worth of Jason Kendall” theme!)
A wild pitch followed in the next at-bat, which put Betancourt on second, allowed Podsednik to drive him in for an insurance run and possibly provided the answer as to why Chad Cordero didn’t bury that pitch to Betancourt.
There should be a mental mistake against either Mike Aviles or Alberto Callaspo, but I don’t know who missed the sign. Mike thought he was bunting to move Alberto over in the 10th, but Alberto thought it was a hit and run.
Callaspo was out by so much, the shortstop had time for a cup of coffee and a cigarette while he waited for Alberto to arrive. This was a bad thing to screw up in a tie ballgame in extra innings and could’ve been a disaster if not for the Royals’ ability to put together two-out rallies. If I find out who missed the sign, I’ll get it into the system later.