Judging the Royals

Hustle pays off for Chris Getz

Updated: 2013-04-06T03:36:47Z

By LEE JUDGE

The Kansas City Star

In the fifth inning with one down and behind 4-0, Royals pinch hitter Miguel Tejada hit a slow roller to Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Kansas City’s Chris Getz was on first base and hustled down to second to break up the double play. Some runners don’t try that hard to get to the pivot man; old-school ballplayers do — Chris Getz is old school.

Because Getz was hustling to flip the pivot man, he actually beat the throw. Getz slid hard and made pivot man Chase Utley move out of the way. By that time, Tejeda was safe at first. Next, Alex Gordon singled, and the bases were loaded. Then Alcides Escobar hit into a fielder’s choice, and Getz was forced out at home plate. Finally, with two outs and the bases still loaded, Eric Hosmer singled, drove in two runs and the Royals were on the board and on their way back.

Because Chris Getz hustled, the Phillies did not turn an inning-ending double play. Because Chris Getz hustled, the Phillies did not record even one out, which would have eventually gotten them out of the inning without giving up a run. Eric Hosmer had a big hit, but Chris Getz’ hustle made it possible.

Shutdown inning

Don’t miss what Bruce Chen did in the bottom of the fifth: he threw a shutdown inning. The Royals scored in the top of the inning to make the score 4-2, but if Bruce comes out and lets the Phillies score in the bottom half of the inning, momentum is lost and the ground the offense gained goes right back to the Phillies.

Whenever the offense has a big inning, pay attention to what happens next: ballplayers will tell you that a shutdown inning is huge — and Chen gave the Royals one when they needed it.

Ned’s decision

In the sixth inning with two outs, Lorenzo Cain on third base and Getz on second, the Royals were still down 4-2. Getz had doubled and first base was open. The pitcher’s spot was due up so Ned Yost needed a pinch-hitter. He chose Billy Butler.

With the tying run in scoring position, the Phillies were not going to pitch to Butler. Had Ned sent a lesser hitter to the plate, the Phillies might have tried to avoid putting the winning run on base and pitched to the lesser hitter. Even though it took the bat out of Butler's hands, by sending him to the plate, Ned made sure Alex Gordon would get a shot. The Phillies walked Billy, brought in left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst and went after Gordon. Alex cleared the bases with a triple and the Royals were out in front to stay.

Game notes

• When you’re watching a game on TV, focus on the catcher’s glove. If the mitt moves dramatically when the catcher receives the ball, the pitcher is missing his spots. In the first 2 1/3 innings, Wade Davis was missing his spots. Davis appeared to make some kind of adjustment — one theory is that he was over-amped for his first start — and got the last five hitters he faced.

• I’m not there, so I can’t ask, but I’m assuming Ned Yost pinch hit for Davis in the top of the fifth — even though he looked better in the bottom of the fourth — because the Royals needed to generate some offense and were running out of time.

• The Royals were down 3-0 when Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick almost made it 4-0. Kendrick hit a ball off the top of the left field wall and — fortunately for the Royals — got caught watching his own hit. Kendrick loafed down to first, waiting to see if the ball was a home run and when it wasn’t, Kendrick had to settle for a single off the wall. Only making it to first base allowed the Royals to turn an inning-ending double play when the next batter, Ben Revere, hit the ball to Alcides Escobar.

• If I counted right, Wade Davis had a 30-pitch third inning and already had his pitch count up to 67 when he walked to the dugout at the end of the inning. When the other pitcher sees his opponent have a long inning, he can pound the zone, knowing the hitters are likely to take at least one strike to give their own pitcher a rest.

• Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain all took one strike in the top of the fourth, then went to hacking. Maybe someone should have taken two strikes, because Kyle Kendrick got out of the inning in only 10 pitches and Wade Davis was right back out there.

• In the fifth inning, catcher Salvador Perez could be seen giving the signs while looking up at Jimmy Rollins. Most catchers look into the dugout to get the signs for the running game — pickoff, pitchout, slide step — then down at the hitters' feet to see if they’ve made an adjustment since the last pitch. Then the catcher looks up at the hitter while giving the signs to the pitcher. The catcher wants to know if the hitter is peeking back and stealing signs. If so, someone is likely to get drilled.

• Nothing good lasts forever, but the bullpen put up another five shutout innings.

National League games

When the pitcher hits, the game changes. Some of those changes are obvious; some are a little more subtle. Pay attention to the pitches the eight-hole hitter gets when the pitcher is on deck. If there are two outs and a runner in scoring position, the eight-hole hitter might get pitches just off the plate, but still feel like he has to swing at them. Working a walk and turning things over to the pitcher is not a great plan (although it does get the pitcher’s spot out of the way and keeps him from leading off the next inning).

Also watch the base running: if there are two outs and the pitcher is on deck, the third base coach is likely to send the runner if he has any chance at all of scoring. Once again, holding the runner and letting the pitcher hit is not a great game plan.

Once they get to the middle innings, Eddie Rodriguez has told me, he has to know if Ned Yost if likely to pinch hit for the pitcher. That would change the odds of scoring the run if Eddie holds the runner.

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