In the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Rockies, Salvador Perez blocked three pitches in the dirt with the tying run on third base.
It’s not easy to block any pitch in the dirt, especially when those pitches are coming in at 92 mph, but some pitches are more difficult to block than others.
If the pitch hits the dirt just inches in front of the catcher’s mitt, it’s easier to smother. If the pitch hits the dirt out in front of home plate, the ball is going to bounce higher and blocking that pitch is more difficult.
On Tuesday night, two of the three pitches in the dirt were out in front of home plate, the hard kind, and Perez still blocked them.
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If a catcher hits a home run to put a run on the board, we all notice, but if the same catcher blocks a pitch in the dirt to keep a run off the board, it gets less attention.
Why not Brandon Maurer?
When Kelvin Herrera had to leave the game in the middle of an at-bat, Ned Yost went to Scott Alexander to get him out of the jam. Before coming to the Royals, Brandon Maurer saved 20 games for the Padres, but Ned chose not to use him.
A quick look at some numbers might reveal why.
Since coming over to the Royals, Maurer has walked seven batters (one intentionally) in 10 2/3 innings. He’s also allowed 18 hits, currently has an ERA of 7.59 and his WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) is 2.344.
When Ned was asked why he went with Scott Alexander, he cited Alexander’s ability to throw strikes; Alexander’s WHIP is 1.288.
If Herrera is out for a while, don’t be surprised if Alexander is asked to pitch in some big situations.
Why is Whit Merrifield’s hustle notable?
The Royals got their first run when Whit Merrifield singled, stole second, advanced to third on a ground ball and scored on a passed ball.
Merrifield’s hustle is noticed every time he plays, but if everyone played with that kind of energy it wouldn’t be.
Melky Cabrera’s heads-up base running
One of the reasons the Royals beat the Rockies 3-2 was some heads-up base running by Melky Cabrera.
With one out in the fourth inning, he hit the ball down into the right-field corner and that’s when a runner might try for a triple.
Unless it’s a no-doubter, with two down the runner should be satisfied with a double; that will put him in scoring position and he’ll probably cross the plate on any two-out hit.
With no outs the runner doesn’t want to take the chance on getting thrown out at third and screwing up what could be the start of a big inning.
And the right-field corner is a long way from third base.
Melky ran the bases according to the situation and scored on Eric Hosmer’s infield single.
Charlie Blackmon went off and Dan Iassogna didn’t toss him
Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna had a bad night behind home plate and at least one moment indicated Iassogna might have known it.
Charlie Blackmon was called out on a pitch well outside the zone and then went off. Iassogna had missed a pitch in Blackmon’s sixth-inning at-bat and missed another one in Blackmon’s eighth-inning at-bat and it appeared Blackmon had enough.
Blackmon let Iassogna have an earful, complete with hand gestures and some very dissatisfied body language — but Iassogna didn’t toss him.
Many hitters — and Ian Kinsler comes to mind — have been ejected for a lot less.
But making a bad call and then compounding that bad call by ejecting a player who complains about that bad call would be a bad look.
Heck, the players might start wearing white wristbands.