Judging the Royals

The Royals hit five homers, and don’t talk to Brandon Moss right now about hitting

Royals designated hitter Brandon Moss was congratulated by Salvador Perez after Moss hit a solo home run in the sixth inning Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals designated hitter Brandon Moss was congratulated by Salvador Perez after Moss hit a solo home run in the sixth inning Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Full disclosure: My buddy Brad Fanning got married Saturday night, and I had to be there to see if his bride-to-be would actually go through with it.

She did, despite my offer to drive the getaway car if and when she came to her senses.

The reception was packed, and a few of the faces belonged to people you normally see out at Kauffman Stadium during a game, so I wasn’t the only one playing hooky.

But playing hooky meant I had to record the game, get up early Sunday morning and, while fighting a hangover, watch video.

Here is my report:

Holy (cow), five home runs?

Unless you were at the same wedding reception and are struggling with a similar hangover, you probably already know the Royals hit five home runs Saturday night and beat the White Sox 7-2.

For my money (which is a figure of speech because the only way I’m actually paying anything is in lost brain cells) the most impressive homer was the second one Mike Moustakas hit, and here’s why:

When a pitcher comes inside on a hitter, one of the techniques a hitter uses to get the bat head to the ball is pulling his hands in close to his body; this tightens the arc of the swing.

But pulling your hands in cuts down on a hitter’s swing and often results in soft line drives just over a first or third baseman’s head; Moose pulled his hands in and hit the ball out of the park.

That ain’t easy.

Don’t talk hitting with Brandon Moss; he’s hot

Brandon Moss is a talkative guy, and he’ll talk hitting until the cows come home, even if those cows attended Brad Fanning’s wedding reception and discovered they kinda like Johnny Walker Black Label scotch. (I foresee a lot of trouble in those cows’ future.)

Anyway…

Brandon likes to discuss the technical aspects of hitting until he actually starts hitting, and since July 1 he’s hit .326 and slugged .628; one of Saturday night’s five home runs was hit by Moss.

But part of why Brandon is now hitting is he decided to quit thinking about hitting.

When a hitter goes to the plate there’s no way to think his way through a swing; everything happens too quickly. Better to clear his mind, concentrate on seeing the ball and react.

The hitter goes from trying to hit to letting himself hit and that’s what Moss is doing now. So questions about how he’s doing it will make Moss start thinking again and if he starts thinking again he’ll be back where he was.

Brandon and I talked a lot about hitting when things weren’t going well, but we agreed once he got hot we’d quit talking hitting.

Every hitter knows he can talk his way into a slump and I don’t want to be responsible for messing with Brandon’s mind, so from now on we’ll steer clear of the itting-hay subject.

Holy (cow), four stolen bases?

Five home runs will tend to suck the air out of the room, but Saturday night the Royals also had another notable achievement; they stole four bases.

One of those steals came from Lorenzo Cain, one came from Moss and two came from Alex Gordon.

Cain is a base stealer – he’s had as many as 28 in a season – but Moss and Gordon are not.

Moss and Gordon are referred to as “situational base stealers,” which is a nice way of saying they don’t run unless the end is near, cats are marrying dogs and pitchers are taking way too long to deliver a pitch.

Sunday mornings are bad time to do interviews; everybody had a late Saturday night – some of us more than others – so everybody lays low and tries to stay out of the heat. Nevertheless, if I run into base-running coach Rusty Kuntz I’ll ask what was up with all the base stealing.

If Rusty tells me something I can repeat, I will.

Melky homers but loses style points

In the third inning ex-Royal Melky Cabrera homered, but rounded the bases with the lining of his back pocket turned inside out, flapping in the breeze.

Part of being a big-leaguer is looking like a big-leaguer, and having the lining of a back pocket turned inside out is considered a big-league fashion faux pas. It happens when a hitter pulls his batting gloves out of his pocket and the lining comes with them.

So sure, Melky homered, but he didn’t look stylish while doing it, so maybe that homer should have only counted for half a run.

Sunday, C.B. Bucknor is behind the dish

If the umpiring crew sticks to its normal rotation, C.B. Bucknor will be behind home plate Sunday. Bucknor has a reputation for being bad at calling balls and strikes, so that might change a hitter or pitcher’s approach.

Hitters will not want to leave a two-strike call up to Bucknor, so don’t be surprised if hitters are aggressive early in the count to avoid that situation. And pitchers won’t be sure a borderline strike gets called correctly; they might bite off more of the zone than they normally would.

Either way, I’ll be in the press box trying to rehydrate and sweating out the sins of the previous evening.

I actually had a very good time Saturday night, so I’ll end today’s post by offering my best wishes to Brad Fanning’s lovely new bride, Traci.

She’s going to need them.

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