Judging the Royals

Ned Yost gets flexible with the bullpen, but the move doesn’t work

Royals reliever Wade Davis gave up a three-run triple to Conor Gillaspie in the seventh inning as the Chicago White Sox beat the Royals 7-5 on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals reliever Wade Davis gave up a three-run triple to Conor Gillaspie in the seventh inning as the Chicago White Sox beat the Royals 7-5 on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Kansas City Star

Remember when Ned Yost was criticized for refusing to bring Kelvin Herrera into a game in the sixth inning? Well since that game, Yost has changed his policy. He brought both Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis into Tuesday’s game earlier than usual …and it didn’t work. Herrera and Davis gave up three runs and the Royals’ 5-4 lead.

Herrera came into the game in the sixth inning, gave up a walk, then got the final out. Kelvin came back out for the seventh, but gave up two singles, then got one out on a fielder’s choice. At that point, the almost-unhittable Davis came into the game, issued a walk to load the bases, then gave up a bases-clearing triple and the lead.

Second-guessing managers is the real national pastime, but it probably is good to remember that no move is going to 100 percent successful. Yost made the move that he got criticized for not making Sunday, but the move didn’t work.

The Chicago White Sox beat the Royals 7-5.

Game notes

▪ Davis gave up a three-run triple on a pitch that did not appear to be that bad, a 97-mph fastball at the knees away. Conor Gillaspie reached out and whacked it into the gap.

▪ Salvador Perez was chasing pitches well out of the strike zone all night long. Until a hitter gets more selective, opposing pitchers will continue to nibble and get away with it.

▪ With no outs and a runner on second base, Perez did not appear to be hitting the ball to the right side. Watch a hitter’s head. If a right-handed hitter finishes his swing looking down the third-base line, he probably wasn’t trying to go the other way.

▪ Omar Infante got in a hurry while making a tag on a runner, and it cost the Royals a run. I’m pretty sure the runner was Adam Eaton, but this game was so long I can’t remember what happened in the first few innings.

▪ A total of 15 pitchers were used in Tuesday night’s game. When that happens, 15 pitchers need to warm up, and that slows the game down. A game without a rain delay should not last four hours and 16 minutes. Somewhere around the seventh inning, I lost the will to live.

▪ Walks also slow games down. A total of 10 were issued Tuesday night.

▪ Dayan Viciedo threw the ball to second base when Alcides Escobar was going first to third even though he might have had a shot at throwing Esky out. If there are fewer than two outs, throwing the ball to second base on a single keeps the double play in order. If there are two outs, throwing the ball to second keeps a potential run out of scoring position.

▪ Perez got down on one knee and took a foul tip to the thigh. When catchers use open stances, they open themselves up to foul tips. Sal was lucky that the ball hit him in the thigh.

▪ We should all be aware that some relievers may not be available on certain nights. They may be unable to go that night, and teams are not going to let anyone know. A pitcher who never throws but might be available can still keep a pinch-hitter out of the game.

▪ Andy Wilkins, who was hitting .094, walked and scored in the fourth inning. The three times Royals pitchers threw him strikes, Wilkins struck out.

How do you score from second base on a wild pitch and infield single?

Let’s go back to the Royals’ amazing win on Monday night. Jarrod Dyson scored the tying run from second base on a wild pitch, and then Terrance Gore scored the winning run from second base on an infield single. How does that happen?

Because both runners were stealing third at the time.

Go back and look at the video, and you will see that neither runner was being held close to second base by a middle infielder. Apparently, the White Sox had decided to play the infield back to make sure the Royals didn’t sneak a ground ball through the hole at short or second.

Because they weren’t holding Dyson or Gore close to the bag, both runners were stealing third, even though there were two outs. Let those two guys have a big lead, and stealing third is a lock. The Royals got extremely lucky that both guys were stealing third on the right pitch. That’s how you score from second on a wild pitch and infield single.

A reader’s question

My question has to do with the speed of games.

I think I heard or read that there is a rule limiting how long a pitcher can hold the ball before delivering a pitch. Has MLB ever considered enforcing this? If they did, and also limited batters’ ability to landscape the box and adjust their clothes and meditate between pitches, they could shave at least half an hour off game times.

What if the umpire called a ball when a pitch was delivered after, say, 15 seconds, and called a strike if it was thrown after 10 seconds and the batter was out of the box. They could mount shot clocks in center field and behind the plate.

The answer

Here is what the rule book says: When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.”

It’s a great rule that isn’t enforced. We all could have used it Tuesday night.

Another reader weighs in

What can be done to improve the hitting next year?

I’m no hitting instructor, but to my eye, the problem has been pitch selection. Guys are chasing pitcher’s pitches before they have to. Dale Sveum, the Royals’ hitting coach, came in preaching the merits of getting a ball up in the strike zone, but you still see hitters chasing pitches down — and they do it before they have to.

Guys don’t like to strike out, so a lot of them start to expand their zones once they have one strike. A possible solution to that would be developing a better two-strike approach. Choke up and go the other way. But you see hitters with their bottom hands down on the knobs of their bats, still trying to pull the ball in two-strike counts.

Is it possible that Butler could go to an extensive training program in the off-season to become more explosive and at least slightly faster?

I guess anything is possible, but I’m not sure it is likely. Butler will never be fast, and as long as he’s hitting, nobody worries about his weight. Like I said in the above answer, pitch selection seems to be a problem. Pitchers have been throwing Billy sinkers down and in or breaking stuff just plain down. They want Butler to roll over and hit grounders to the left side, and all too often, that is just what he has done.

Has Moustakas ever considered trying to be a switch-hitter?

Mike can switch hit, and I’ve seen him start batting practice swinging from the right side. There are two schools of thought on Moose:

1.) He should work on going the other way and beating those left-handed shifts.

2.) He should get up on top of the plate and try to jerk everything he can into the seats.

If a hitters goes with the second approach, he better hit enough home runs and drive in enough runs to make that worthwhile.