The Minnesota Twins are currently 13th in the American League in issuing walks to other teams. Do the math — I’ll wait, you might have been up late last night — and that means 12 AL teams, including the Royals, walk more batters than the Twins.
But in the last two games, the Twins have been issuing walks that are killing them and helping the Royals.
On Thursday night the Royals scored five runs in the fourth inning to take control of the game, but the Twins pitching should get an assist. After the Royals singled with one out, Tyler Duffey walked a batter, got another out and then walked a second batter to load the bases. Then Duffey hit a batter and gifted the Royals a run.
(I know what you’re thinking; when the heck did it become OK to use the word “gifted” as a verb? On Monday morning I’ll ask the people I office with and find out.)
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After that, Alex Gordon hit a grand slam. The Royals scored five runs in the fourth, but the Twins helped out by walking two batters and hitting one.
And the Twins did it again on Friday night
The Royals beat the Twins 5-4 in 11 innings and here’s how the Twins helped them.
Second inning: The Royals scored three runs, but the Twins did their part, they walked three batters and hit one.
Fourth inning: The Twins walked the leadoff batter — Alex Gordon — and he scored.
11th inning: The Twins walked the winning run — Cheslor Cuthbert — into scoring position and he scored to end the game.
The Royals have won the first two games of this series, but they’re getting an awful lot of help from the Twins.
Not all walks are bad for the defense or good for the offense
Just to be clear not all walks are bad; smart pitchers work around dangerous hitters all the time, especially with runners in scoring position. And if the guy you walk can’t run — for some reason Billy Butler comes to mind — a walk can clog the bases.
With a slow runner on first base, the offense might need three more singles to score one run. Walking the right guy at the right time can make things tough on an offense.
In the third inning of Friday night’s game Brian Dozier hit a solo home run. Brian Dozier hitting a home run off the Royals has become part of any Twins-Royals game. Someone comes out to sing the national anthem, another person throws out the first pitch and then Brian Dozier whacks a baseball out of the park.
But as long as those Dozier homers are solo shots, the Royals might get away with it.
The Royals know how to manufacture single runs so they’ve got a good chance of covering a single run by the other team. But walk two people first and then give up a home run and the Royals have problems. It’s usually not the home run that kills you; it’s the walks before the home run.
Just ask the Minnesota Twins.
What makes Drew Butera valuable
Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the hair; but that’s not where I’m going with this. Salvador Perez is an All-Star, Gold Glove catcher and so far this season has thrown out 51 percent of would-be base stealers. To give you some idea of just how awesome that is, if a catcher throws out 33 percent of base stealers that’s considered very good.
So if your backup catcher is mediocre, there’s a huge drop off when a catcher like Perez comes off the field.
With a mediocre backup, the other team will steal you blind. And that means you have a hard time giving your starting catcher a day off; you have to wait until you play a team that doesn’t run. And if your backup catcher is bad enough, a team that doesn’t normally run might start running once the backup catcher is in the game.
That brings us to the eighth inning of Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins.
The score was tied 4-4 when Salvador Perez lit a leadoff double to start the eighth. Ned Yost rolled the dice and sent Rally Mantis Wrangler Billy Burns out to pinch run for Perez. But Ned can’t make that move if he doesn’t have faith in Drew Butera.
The Twins had Danny Santana (12 steals), Brian Dozier (nine steals) and Jorge Polanco (three steals) due up in the top of the ninth. If Ned thinks Butera can’t stop the running game if one of those guys gets on, maybe he doesn’t pull Perez from the game.
Pitchers have to help by being quick to home plate, but Butera has thrown out 30 percent of base runners — a very respectable number.
And that makes Drew Butera valuable.
Hosmer’s walk-off single was actually a walk-off double, but Hosmer walked off
If you woke up Saturday morning, looked at a box score and saw that the Royals won the game when Eric Hosmer hit a walk-off single, that’s technically accurate but doesn’t tell the whole story.
With Cheslor Cuthbert on second base, Hosmer hit the ball over the right fielder’s head and it bounced off the bullpen gate; an easy stand-up double. But Hosmer didn’t run all the way to second base so he only got credit for a single. Here’s the rule that applies:
(f) Subject to the provisions of Rule 10.06(g), when a batter ends a game with a safe hit that drives in as many runs as are necessary to put his team in the lead, the official scorer shall credit such batter with only as many bases on his hit as are advanced by the runner who scores the winning run, and then only if the batter runs out his hit for as many bases as are advanced by the runner who scores the winning run.