Judging the Royals

The Royals score 16 runs and their unpredictable season continues

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez poured a cooler full of ice water on Mike Moustakas after the 16-4 win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.
Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez poured a cooler full of ice water on Mike Moustakas after the 16-4 win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Don’t try to figure out baseball.

Before the Detroit series began, did anyone think the two games the Royals would win would be the games started by Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer? That Jason Vargas would get lit up and Jordan Zimmermann would cruise? That Brandon Moss would hit .417 and slug .833 in the series?

Before the season began if someone told you the Royals would be 47-47 on July 21, would you have predicted they’d also be 1  1/2 games out of first place?

Even though we keep trying, baseball keeps reminding is that we can’t predict the future.

So don’t ask me if I think the Royals will make the playoffs because I don’t know and neither does anybody else.

And that includes the Royals.

Thursday’s game: Royals 16, Tigers 4

Summing up a game that saw 20 runs scored, 30 hits, seven pitching changes and 25 position players come to the plate ain’t easy.

The Royals scored 16 of those 20 runs, had bloop hits falling in all over the field and won the game in a tidy three hours and 34 minutes.

So rather than trying to give you an accurate overall picture of what happened Thursday night, let’s pick a few moments of interest.

The Tigers commit three errors in the first inning

The Royals like to pressure opposing teams with aggressive base running, but in the first inning, the Kansas City base running was just plain sloppy.

But when a team does something goofy on the bases it can cross up the defense; the guys with the ball are being presented with unusual situations that nobody prepares for.

Due to some unusual Royals base running and sketchy Tigers defense, Kansas City scored four runs in the first inning.

It worked out on Thursday, but the Royals probably shouldn’t make a habit of having two runners on third base.

The Merrifield-Mahtook pick off

In the second inning Danny Duffy tried a pick off with Mikie Mahtook at second base, but umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled Mahtook safe.

Second baseman Whit Merrifield took Duffy’s throw and, after Cuzzi’s ruling, looked into the Royals dugout and pointed at his own foot. That’s because Merrifield used an old infielder’s trick; he put his foot between Mahtook and the bag and blocked Mahtook’s return to second base.

Replay showed Mahtook did not reach the base before he got tagged and the call on the field was overturned.

BTW: The trick is old, not the infielder.

The Salvador Perez hit by pitch

In the third inning, Royals catcher Salvador Perez got hit by a pitch and the crowd booed. But Perez got hit by a 76 mph curve and pitchers don’t use off-speed pitches when they hit batters intentionally.

But even if you give the Tigers the benefit of the doubt on that hit by pitch, too many Royals batters got plunked during the series —Perez, Alex Gordon, Whit Merrifield, Alcides Escobar and Jorge Bonifacio.

The only Tiger that wore one was Justin Upton.

Even if their batters are getting hit by accident, some teams might drill somebody to send a message: be more careful or we’ll even things up.

But that’s pretty old-school baseball and, in general, the game isn’t played that way anymore. Before the game Royals pitcher Peter Moylan said he hadn’t been asked to hit a batter in at least five years.

And he sounded wistful.

The Salvador Perez stolen base

According to base-running coach Rusty Kuntz, every slow guy wants to steal a base to get that zero off the back of his bubble-gum card.

But slow guys need everything to line up right to steal a bag.

After Salvador Perez got hit by that curve, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera did not hold him on first base; after all, Perez didn’t even attempt a steal in 2016. And since he wasn’t being held on first, Perez got a good jump.

The first pitch to the guy at the plate — Mike Moustakas — was a 96 mph fastball, but Perez took off on the next pitch; an 88 mph change-up.

When slow runners guess right, smart ballplayers think it might not be a guess.

Catchers sometimes get sloppy with giving signs — they get tired and let their knees get too wide — and if that happens runners on first base can see the signs and know that an off-speed pitch is on the way.

Either that or Rusty picked up a pattern or found something in Fulmer’s delivery that gave away change up.

However he did it, when Salvador Perez steals a bag, something ain’t right.

That Cain sun-ball single was changed to a sun-ball error

One more thing before I go:

The Royals won a game against the Rangers when Lorenzo Cain hit a fly ball to Shin-Soo Choo and Choo couldn’t make the catch; Choo was looking directly into the sun at the time.

The play was ruled a hit, but Thursday we learned it had been overturned and the play was now being called an error.

Errors are plays that should be made with “ordinary effort” and if you watched the game that day, you know any fly ball in the sun was an adventure; Choo wasn’t the only guy who struggled.

So after the hit was changed to an error, I popped off and said whoever changed the ruling should have to go out in right field at 4:30 and make the same catch; if the ball was caught the ruling would be error, if the ball dropped Cain would get to keep his hit.

I was then informed the ruling was probably overturned by Joe Torre and, even at his advanced age, Joe might be able to make that catch … but he sure as heck wouldn’t make it with ordinary effort.

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