Judging the Royals

Lee Judge breaks down the Royals, game by game.

The Royals beat themselves

04/24/2014 12:47 AM

04/24/2014 12:48 AM

If the other team beats you, tip your cap—they earned it and you can live with that. But if you beat yourself, you gave

the game away. Those losses are much tougher to take.

The Royals began giving this one away in the sixth inning. Up 3-2 thanks to homers by Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas—and another RBI single by Moose—Jason Vargas had two outs and a runner on first base. With Yan Gomes batting, the runner—Michael Brantley—took off for second. The pitch was a changeup and finished low in the zone. Catcher Salvador Perez caught it just above the ground and may have rushed his throw to make up for lost time.

The throw to second base bounced and second baseman Omar Infante did not get in front of the ball—he played it off to the side. If an infielder uses his body to knock bad throws down he can keep short hops on the infield; if he tries an

ole play

and fails, that ball is going to be picked up by an outfielder.

Infante’s failure to keep the ball on the infield allowed Brantley to get up and take off for third. Centerfielder Jarrod Dyson had a play there, but got in a rush and ran past the ball. The Indians scored the tying run from first base without getting a hit,

That’s the definition of giving a run away.

Kelvin Herrera did not

give

a run away in the seventh, but he threw an awful lot of fastballs. If a guy throws 19 pitches and 14 of them are fastballs and of the five pitches that weren’t fastballs only two of those were thrown for strikes, why would you look for anything other than an upper-90s fastball?

Michael Bourn singled, Nick Swisher singled and Jason Kipnis doubled. All three of those seventh-inning hits came on fastballs.

In the eighth inning Wade Davis had trouble throwing strikes and walked David Murphy and Michael Brantley. The Indians decided to play for an insurance run and had Asdrubal Cabrera bunt. The ball rolled toward third and there was some confusion about who was going to make the play. Mike Moustakas was caught between picking up the bunt and covering third base—the sac bunt turned into an infield single. Davis struck out Yan Gomes for the first out, then Lonnie Chisenhall hit a flare over Moustakas’ head. The Indians had their insurance run on two walks, a play that wasn’t made and a hit that barely made it to the outfield.

You don’t mind it when you get beat, but this time the Royals beat themselves.

Indians 5, Royals 3.

Game notes

*Justin Masterson got 19 outs in this game; six by strikeout and just one fly ball out. Masterson is mainly a sinker/slider guy; the sinker runs down and in on righties and that produces a lot of groundballs. Omar Infante and Salvador Perez were the only right-handers to get the ball in the air off Masterson and Sal’s ball left the yard. When a pitcher gets that many grounders out of right-handed hitters, the hit and run can be a good option.

*The Royals got 10 hits in this game and eight of those came off Masterson. Only one right-handed hitter got a hit—Salvador Perez.

*Last week I asked Eric Hosmer how you deal with a pitcher who has a good sinker and he said you have to "see it high." If the sinker comes starts in the middle of the zone it’ll be down around the knees by the time you swing. If it come in above the zone it’ll end up as a hittable pitch, Of course if the pitcher decides to mix in four-seamers—straight fastballs—that pitch is going to

stay

high.

*Salvador Perez picked Michael Bourn off second base in the first inning. Watch for catchers to attempt pick offs after failed bunt attempts—the runner sees the batter square and has a tendency to extend his lead. If the batter doesn’t get the bunt down, the runner can find himself too far off the bag.

*Jarrod Dyson had three hits—one came on a bunt single in the fifth. The Royals want Dyson to bunt more often this year and take advantage of his speed. If you want to know what Dyson is going to do when he comes to the plate, take a look at the other team’s corner infielders. If one of them is playing back, Dyson has a bunting opportunity. If they’re playing in, Dyson has a chance to slap the ball past them.

*With Dyson on first base, Justin Masterson was holding the ball in the set position. Hold it long enough and the runner’s legs go dead and you can quit worrying about the stolen base. The guy at the plate has to recognize what’s happening and call time.

Throwback

"Throwback: A Big League Catcher Tells How the Game Is Really Played" is an inside look at our national pastime, co-authored by Jason Kendall and Lee Judge. The book will be in stores on May 13th, but can be pre-ordered right now.

http://us.macmillan.com/throwback/JasonKendall

 

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