Judging the Royals

What (maybe) happened on the Salvador Perez play

The Royals’ Eric Hosmer (35) and Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos waited at third base for the umpires to decide whether Salvador Perez had tagged up before scoring in the sixth inning Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. The crew ruled Perez hadn’t and called him out, ending the inning and taking a run off the scoreboard.
The Royals’ Eric Hosmer (35) and Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos waited at third base for the umpires to decide whether Salvador Perez had tagged up before scoring in the sixth inning Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. The crew ruled Perez hadn’t and called him out, ending the inning and taking a run off the scoreboard. The Kansas City Star

It’s pretty confusing even for someone who was there, witnessed the play and talked to the people involved, but here’s what happened. Maybe.

In the sixth inning, with one out and Salvador Perez on third and Eric Hosmer on second, Omar Infante lined out to second baseman Ian Kinsler. Hosmer headed back to second base, and Kinsler snapped a throw to the shortstop coming over to cover the bag. The throw went past the shortstop, Eugenio Saurez, and went in to shallow left field. Hosmer headed for third and Perez went home. The score was briefly 2-1 Royals.

The Tigers appealed the play. That was when Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer threw the ball to third base and the umpires ruled that Perez was safe. But replays showed Perez failing to tag third after the line out. Detroit manager Brad Ausmus came out to talk to the umpires. They had a meeting, eventually went to the headsets and were told the play was not reviewable. Meanwhile, the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard was showing that Perez had not tagged the bag.

Then the umpires had a second meeting and called Perez out.

Royals manager Ned Yost came out of the dugout to ask what the heck just happened and was told that in the umpires’ judgment Perez was out and got no further explanation. After the game, the umpires issued a statement that said the video on the scoreboard, which showed they got the play wrong, had no effect on their change of heart.

Several people strongly suspect otherwise.

But it’s still a mental mistake

Basically, Perez had to tag up, and he didn’t. It was an odd play — one that no one can remember seeing before — and Perez reacted incorrectly. After the game, I asked Yost if he would have managed the next half-inning any differently had the Royals taken the lead. He said no. James Shields’ pitch count was low, and Yost liked the way he was throwing.

James Shields and the change-up

Before the game, I was told to pay attention to James Shields’ change-up. If he had a good one, the Tigers would be in trouble. If he was leaving it up in the zone, the Tigers would do some damage.

There were two really big hits in the game, Torii Hunter’s home run and Tyler Collins’ RBI single, and both came on change-ups. Rajai Davis drove in the Tigers’ third run on a fastball.

Afterward, Shields said he thought the real problem in the seventh inning was the walk to Saurez. It pushed a run into scoring position and made the Collins single hurt.

Game notes

▪ The Royals bunted a runner over to third base in the first inning, then the Tigers brought in their infield to cut that run down at the plate. Both moves tell you that the Royals and the Tigers both thought a single run — and scoring first — was a big deal.

▪ In the first inning, Nori Aoki bunted on his own. After the game, Yost said Aoki had to move the runner and how he did it was up to him. The second time Aoki bunted, it was Ned’s call. It put two runners in scoring position, and Yost thought if those runs scored, that might be enough for Shields.

▪ If you’re going to use a bunt to get a runner to third with fewer than two outs, the guy at the plate needs to get the ball in play. Three-hole hitter Josh Willingham had a tough day, three strikeouts and pop out. Three of those outs came with runners in scoring position. Alex Gordon also struck out twice with runners in scoring position.

▪ If you were cursing the Royals’ bunting in the first inning, just remember it got them a hit in the second. With Jarrod Dyson on base, the Tigers had their third baseman playing in for the bunt, and Escobar hit the ball past him.

▪ Infante was hit by a pitch, but it was an 83-mph change-up. When you hit a batter intentionally, you do it with a fastball.

▪ Dyson singled and, with one of the best base stealers in the game on first base, Scherzer did one of the most effective things a pitcher can do: He held the ball in the set position. That makes a runner’s legs go dead like a sprinter in the blocks waiting for the gun to go off and it doesn’t. Most pitchers don’t like to hold the ball. Scherzer actually practices it.

▪ Put the Royals’ second run on Tigers catcher James McCann. Perez singled and Lane Adams pinch-ran for him. Detroit reliever Joba Chamberlain bounced a pitch in the dirt, and McCann tried to glove it instead of blocking it with his body. The ball got away, Adams advanced into scoring position and came home on an Eric Hosmer single.

You can’t have it both ways

The Star’s Andy McCullough reported that James Shields fired his hat into dugout as he left the field. I missed that because I was tweeting at the time. You can’t have it both ways. Either I’m looking at the field, or I’m looking at my laptop. The more time I spend looking at my laptop, the less time I spend looking at the field.

The unwritten rules

Friday night, Dyson stole a base and Johnny Giavotella tagged up and advanced when the Royals were down by about 150 runs (at least that’s how it seemed). Detroit starter Justin Verlander took exception — his ERA might have had something to do with it — but when you’re the team that’s down, you get to do what you want. You’re trying to get back in the game. When you’re the team that’s up, you’re the one that’s supposed to back off.

But nobody has ever written the unwritten rules down — hence the name — and nobody knows for sure just what the unwritten rules are. Maybe everyone should just keep playing hard, and if you don’t like getting beat by 10 runs, there’s a simple solution: Play better.

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