In the ninth inning of the Royals’ 7-2, 12-inning victory in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night, Mets starter Matt Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain with the game on the line.
Cain promptly stole second and scored when Eric Hosmer doubled. That made the score 2-1, with the tying run in scoring position.
The Mets brought in their closer, Jeurys Familia. Mike Moustakas was at the plate and needed to pull a ground ball to the right side of the field so Hosmer could advance to third. Familia needed Moustakas to hit a grounder to the left side of the field so Hosmer would have to stay at second.
Moustakas won the battle; pulling the ball to first baseman Lucas Duda. Hosmer advanced to third, putting him in position to score the tying tun.
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Salvador Perez hit a grounder to Mets third baseman David Wright, who looked Eric Hosmer back. But there was no one near third base, so Hosmer could extend his lead. When Wright threw the ball to first, Hosmer broke for home.
The Mets already had two outs and if Duda had been able to make an accurate throw home, the Mets might have ended the game right there.
The change-up is a great pitch. You hold the ball loosely in your palm; a fastball is held out in the fingertips. You throw the change-up just like you would a fastball — same arm speed — the only thing that’s different is the grip and release.
With a fastball you put pressure on your fingertips and snap them down as you release the ball. With a change-up you keep your fingertips off the ball and never snap your fingers down; imagine the same motion as pulling down a window shade.
The change-up is a great pitch when thrown correctly; it appears to be a fastball, then fades as it approaches the strike zone. The hitter reads heater, swings too soon and watches the ball dip underneath the bat. That’s what happens when it is thrown correctly.
Three pitches into the game Edinson Volquez threw the pitch that would change the game, an 0-2 change-up.
Instead of coming in down the middle and then dipping out of the strike zone, something went wrong — this change-up stayed up in the strike zone. A pitch that probably should have been bounced in the dirt stayed in the middle of the plate. Curtis Granderson did not miss it, sending it over the right-center field wall.
Later in the game Volquez threw some good change-ups, but that first one was not — and it changed the game.
▪ Once again Kelvin Herrera got burned on a first-pitch fastball.
This time it was thrown to Michael Conforto in the bottom of the seventh inning. Herrera erased the mistake two pitches later with a double play ball, but those first-pitch fastballs have gotten him in trouble more than once.
If you mix in some first-pitch sliders or curves once in a while, you might keep people from jumping on that first fastball.
▪ If they don’t want fans to be upset, they shouldn’t let them us see those electronic strike zone grids. We can see the umpires miss pitches. Once again the strike zone ball/strike calling was inconsistent and proved to be a source of frustration for both pitchers.
▪ The error by Hosmer in the sixth inning was crucial. Without it, no Mets run would have scored. To be fair Hosmer was playing in and the ball was well hit, but it’s still a play that you see him make.