Salvador Perez hit a sixth-inning triple and there are three reasons why it shouldnt have happened. First; the ball was hit to the left-center gap. Most triples are hit to right or right-centertheyre further away from third base. Second; there were no outs. Most triples happen with one outwith nobody out you generally stop at second. A lead-off double is a pretty good way to start an inning, why ruin it by getting greedy and being thrown out at third? And, finally; Salvador Perez is not fasthes a catcher.
By LEE JUDGE
The Kansas City Sta
Salvador Perez ignored all the reasons he should have stayed at second base, tried for third, made it and broke open the game.
The score was 2-1 when Sal hit the ball. The Royals had the 2 and Ned Yost said with his pitching staff, he felt pretty good about protecting a one-run lead. When Perez made it safely to third base, it looked like the Royals might tack on a run. Wrongthey tacked on three.
Lorenzo Cain hit a triple of his own, scoring Sal. Right-handed Matt Albers replaced Clevelands starting pitcher Scott Kazmir and Ned Yost countered by pinch-hitting left-handed David Lough for right-handed Justin Maxwell. With Cain on third, Cleveland had their infield in and Lough hit a single between first and second. Next, Mike Moustakas got a 3-0 green light and flew out to centerfield for the first out of the inning. With Alcides Escobar at the plate Lough took off for second while Esky put the ball in play. Asdrubal Cabrera picked up Escobars grounder, but threw high to first base, pulling Carlos Santana off the bag. (Santana is 5 11"Eric Hosmer is 6 4". Hosmer wouldve made that play easily. Theres a reason infielders like to have a guy with some wingspan over at first base.)
Left-handed Nick Hagadone replaced Albers so he could face left-handed Alex Gordon. With Lough at second and Escobar on first, Gordon hit a fly ball to right field. Lough tagged and headed for third and made it easily, Escobar tagged up, headed for second and came close to being thrown out by right fielder Nick Swisher. Risking making the third out at second when you already have a runner in scoring position might not be the best decision Escobar ever made, but he got away with it.
Emilio Bonifacio shattered his bat, hit a weak groundball to third base and Lonnie Chisenhall muffed it. David Lough scored the third run of the inning on an E5 and the Royals never looked back. They scored two more in the eighth and beat the Cleveland Indians 7-1.
And it started with a triple that shouldnt have happened.
• Back to that 3-0 green light for Moustakas: 3-0 green lights are generally given to power hitters who can do damage from home plate, or contact hitters with a runner in scoring position. Sometimes a manager might give a 3-0 green light to a hitter whos scuffling because the manager knows the hitter will probably get a fastball down the pipemaybe that will get the hitter going.
• The sixth was a really long inning and Wade Davis came out to replace starter James Shields in the seventh. Cleveland lead-off hitter Michael Bourn visibly complained about the call on a 1-2 pitch and if youre going to show up the umpire like that, you better be swinging on the next onedont give the umpire a chance to get even. Bourn swung, but it did no goodhe struck out on a 97 MPH fastball.
• In the seventh inning Carlos Carrasco struck out Lorenzo Cain on a "front door" slider. Thats a slider thrown at the hitters front hip; movement carries it into the strike zone. Cain raised his arms when the pitch appeared to be inside and Ive heard some hitting instructors say this is a bad idea.
If the hitter thinks the pitch is inside, its better if the hitter rotate his upper body back toward the catcherthat protects the hitter from being hit in the hands or arms. If the pitch starts to move back over the plate, the hitter has the chance to reverse his rotation and try to make contact with the ball. Raise your arms and theres nothing you can do to protect the strike zone.
• Back to the top of first inning: when James Shields got ahead of the hitters, he got them out. When he fell behind the hitters, he didnt. Here are the hitters, the count and the results:
Michael Bourn got 1-2 changeup and struck out. Nick Swisher got a 2-1 fastball and singled. Jason Kipnis got an 0-2 change and struck out. Carlos Santana got 2-0 fastball and doubled. Michael Brantley got a 1-1 changeup and grounded out.
Get ahead and pitchers can throw off-speed, fall behind and they tend to throw fastballs.
• Apropos of almost nothing: guys who are afraid to hit with two strikes are more aggressive about swinging the bat. They dont want to get in a two-strike count because they dont have a good two-strike approach.
• The only run the Indians got came off a changeup thrown to Lonnie Chisenhall. The Indians third baseman hit it into the right-field bullpen. When a pitch is elevated its easier to hit in the air, when its off-speed its easier to pull it into the short part of the ballpark
• Why you have to be there: the box score will show you that Eric Hosmer went 1-5, but he absolutely crushed three balls that turned into outs. After the game I asked Hosmer if there was any satisfaction in making hard outs; wouldnt it be worse to hit three weak grounders?
Hosmer said it was better, but it was still tough to take. (Actually, thats not the way he described it at all, but this is still a family newspaperwhatever the hell that meansand I guess the same standards apply to the website.)
• The Royals pitchers had 17 strikeoutsI was told thats a club record for a nine-inning game. All I know is it took forever to play this one: 3 hours and 28 minutes.
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According to the TV guys, during last weekends Detroit series, the area around first base had a bunch of sand thrown on it. Supposedly the Tigers wanted to slow down the Royals base runners and they made sure the area around first base had bad traction. I promised Id ask about this when the team got back and I did. Turns out its not as simple as youor Imight think.
Trevor Vance, the Royals head groundskeeper, didnt think it was that big a deal. The material thrown around probably wasnt sand; it was more likely a drying compound. It looked different than the dirt around it because the dirt was probably wet and the drying compound wasnt. They wet the dirt at all fields; they dont want the dirt to dry out and get hard. But if its too wet a big guy like Prince Fielder can tear it up; the wet dirt will stick to his spikes and the area around first base will be a mess. First base has the most traffic so first base has the most problems.
First base coach Rusty Kuntz had a slightly different take: he agreed that the material around first base was a drying compound, but thought that the dirt underneath was very softand that wasnt an accident. Rusty called the area a "sandbox" and maybe thats where the idea that the material was actually sand got started.
The Tigers didnt mind having a soft area around first; they dont steal a lot of bases. But Rusty didnt blame the dirt around first base for any Royals base runner getting picked off. Apparently, the Tigers pitchers worked at slowing down the Royals: they were varying when they threw over, holding the ball in the set position and were very quick to first when they finally got around to throwing the ball in that direction.
First base coaches keep pitchers delivery times to home plate, but they also time how long it takes pitchers to throw the ball to first. If the pitcher is quick, the runners have to shorten up their leadand the guys who got picked off didnt do that. Ego is a big part of this game: pitchers say that guy may be a good fastball hitter, but he hasnt seen my fastball. Base stealers think the same way: sure, that guy may be quick on a pick-off, but he hasnt picked off me.Ballplayers will tell you confidence is a must; if you dont believe you can hit the pitcher on the mound, you wont. But at some point youve got to tip your cap, admit your opponent is pretty good and go to Plan B.
Bottom line: if the Detroit Tigers went too far in trying to slow down the Kansas City base runners, the Royals could ask an umpire to take a look. If the umpire agreed that the conditions were unplayable, the umpire could get the grounds crew out to fix it.