In his postgame press conference, Ned Yost said that anything his team could have screwed up, they did screw up. Start at the beginning: Wade Davis walked the first batter of the game. Three pitches later, Mike Moustakas whiffed on what looked like a double play ball. In the third inning, with a runner on third headed for home, second baseman Miguel Tejada bobbled a groundball and had to take the out at first base instead of preventing the run from scoring. In the fifth inning long reliever Luis Mendoza threw a wild pitch with runners on first and second; even though Salvador Perez cut down the runner trying to advance to second base, a runner did make it to third and then scored on a fly ball. The Royals also allowed the leadoff batter to get on base in seven out of nine innings.
By LEE JUDGE
The Kansas City Star
It was pretty much three hours and 13 minutes of misery. After the first three batters came to the plate in the top of the sixth inning, there wasnt a lot of doubt about the outcomethe Royals werent doing a lot with Orioles pitcher Scott Feldmanbut they still had to play the final four innings; theres no mercy rule in the big leagues. In the words of Ned Yost: this one was a clunker.
Baltimore 9, Kansas City 2.
Without Cains catch, it could have been worse
The highlight of the game for Royals fans was Lorenzo Cains diving catch of an Adam Jones line drive in the second inning. Cain was playing relatively shallow, had a long run and laid-out to make the grab. He caught the ball toward the very end of his glove and then skidded on to the warning track.
At that point the bases were loaded and there were two outs. Had Cain not made the catch, its very likely three more runs would have scored. In other words, the Royals could have lost this one 12-2.
Going into the club house after a bad loss is no fun for anybody. The media has to ask uncomfortable questions and the players who contributed to the loss are expected to stand by their lockers and "wear it." They know they have to talk to reporters and try to explain what happened.
Monday night both Mike Moustakas and Wade Davis "wore it": Moose said he just flat missed the double play ball on a hop as "routine as you can get." Mike said missing that ball cost Wade 20 extra pitches in the first inning (it was actually 18) and had he made the play, the game might have gone differently.
Then we all drug ourselves over to Wades locker to hear his version of events and he insisted Moose could not take the loss on himself. Davis said he was inconsistent and struggled with command. He hadnt pitched in 11 days, but he wasnt using that as an excuse. He said it was on him and he had to be better.
*Watch for errors made when fielder has to do something immediately after making catch: like turning a double play or throwing a runner out at the plate. Players will sometimes get in a rush and thats what Ned Yost thought Mike Moustakas did in the first inning; turning to start a double play and taking his eye off the ball.
*By my count Davis threw 27 pitches in the first inning, the Orioles starter, Scott Feldman, threw 11. That meant Wade was right back out there before getting much of a blow. By the end of the second inning, Wade had thrown 56 pitches and Feldman had only throw 20. Feldman was getting to rest between innings, Davis wasnt.
When Wade went out for the third inning, I made a note that hed be lucky to get through fivehe didnt make it out of the third. Davis had problems of his own creation, but the fact that the Royals offense couldnt get enough of a rally going to allow him to rest between innings didnt help.
*The Orioles lead the league in home runs and probably would have hit more than one had this game been played in their park. A couple of the doubles hit here might have been out of Camden Yards.
*.In the fourth inning Luis was Mendoza was in the game and throwing his sinker down and in to right-handed hitters. The Royals infield was swung around to the pull side of the field. Eric Hosmer checked his positioning with Miguel Tejada and Miggy moved Hos a step or two further off the bag. Eddie Rodriguez is in charge of infield positioning, but having a veteran out there doesnt hurthe can help the younger guys get to the right spot.
*You can see what throwing one inning at a time can do for a pitcher: Luke Hochevar was hitting 97 on the gun. If a pitcher knows hes only going to be out there for one inning, he can let loose. A starter has to pace himself.
Score one for the infield
Wanna know why Miguel Cabrera made an error in the first inning of Sundays game?
I couldnt swear to this, but it might have been because of the new infield. During the All-Star break the Kansas City grounds crew replaced the Kauffman Stadium infield. That happens once or twice a year and the All-Star break is a good time to get it done. They go from a cool weather grass at the beginning of the year, to a warm weather grass for the hottest months. Once they roll out the Bermuda grass, they "top-dress" it with sand; that basically means filling in the seams and depressions. The sand trickles down and fills in the gaps, but it also makes the infield slower. In other words, balls lose energy faster than they did before the infield was changed.
So when Billy Butler hit him a groundball in the first inning of Sundays game, Cabrera probably expected the ball to come and give him a good hop; it didnt. It skidded, hugged the ground and went under his glove. Cabrera came up too soonexpecting the old, bouncier hopand the ball went under his glove.
Kansas City infielders will have an advantagefor a while. Teams that havent been here since the change might make a mistake because of the change in infield speed, but theyll adjust as a series goes on. Theyll take batting practice and infield and see that balls are behaving differently.
The effect may not last that longword will get aroundbut for now; score one for the infield.
A readers comment
Lee, I understand youre not a proponent of playing Tejada more than 3 days consecutive, fearing a fall off in his production, but don't you think he still allows us to bench Escobar for a week or two? We are getting zero production from Escobar anyway.
And, do you think moving Lough up to 2nd in BA, and moving the rest down 1 spot, would improve our run scoring? I know it defies Ned's desire for these LH vs RH hitting opps, but with our hitters, does that really matter? We have no power, and no one is afraid to pitch to any of our hitters. I'll bet BB for instance already has 2 years of 0 and 2 counts already this year.
Actually, Im not a proponent of anything: I just reported what Id heard: some people think Miguel Tejada is not an everyday player anymore, but Ive also heard some disagreement (although Bob Dutton, who has much better connections than I do, says he hasnt heard anyone argue that point of view). I dont think Im qualified to judge, but Miggys 39so theres that. I also dont think the Royals are considering benching Escobar for any length of time. Ned Yost has expressed the opinion that even when hes not hitting, Esky helps you win games with his defense. Ned once said, "His RBIs are in his glove."
But Ned has also said theyre working with Escobar to keep his bat flat: Alcides has gotten a little loopy with his swing and is hitting too many balls in the air. (He hit two more Monday night, but one was a sac fly.)
Im also unqualified to make out a lineup: I dont know if Lough in the two-hole would increase or decrease the chances of scoring runs. But I do think pitch selection has been a problem, mainly because smarter people than me have said so. The theory goes this way: the Royals continue to get pitched soft in fastball counts when theres a runner in scoring position and until they start "sitting soft" and hit those pitches, the same thing will keep happening.
And while I dont believe Kauffman Stadium is the only reason the Royals havent hit a lot of home runs, I do believe its a big one.
Lorenzo Cains base running
Last Saturday night with Mike Moustakas on first and LorenzoCain on second, David Lough hit a ball in the right-center gap. It was the fourth inning and there were no outs. Moustakas got a good read on the ball, Lorenzo Cain didnt. Moose looked like he was going first to third, but then had to slam on the breaks when he realized Cain had gotten a bad jump and wasnt going to score.
So what went wrong?
There are base-running rules of thumb and one of them is that you go back and tag second when a fly ball is hit to the outfield if there are no outs. Heres why: if the batter makes an out, at least wind up on third with one down; then you can score on a groundball or sacrifice fly. If the ball drops for a hit, you might only advance 90 feet, but there are still no outs and you have multiple runners on base.
But for every rule of thumb there are exceptions.
I talked to third base coach Eddie Rodriguez about the play and heres what he said: going back to tag second wasnt the right play for two reasons 1.) if the ball were caught it probably wasnt going to be deep enough to tag and advance and 2.) the ball wasnt going to be caught. It split the gap between the outfielders pretty well.
Moustakas read that and was planning on going first to third; Cain didnt read that and went back to tag second. Luckily Mike picked up Eddies stop sign and scrambled back to second base. Eddie said trail base runners should "mirror" the runners in front of them.
Lorenzo Cain was trying to do the right thingtag second with nobody outbut didnt do it at the right time.