Judging the Royals

What to watch between innings

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Aaron Crow.
Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Aaron Crow. The Kansas City Star

Back on Sept. 2, the Royals were playing the Texas Rangers and had a lead going into the top of the ninth inning. Greg Holland wasn’t available, so Aaron Crow came on to get the save. What happened before the inning started was worth watching.

Pitchers get eight warm-up pitches between innings and Crow was all over the place, throwing several balls to the backstop. He then started the inning by throwing ball one and ball two to Adam Rosales. Instead of taking ball three, Rosales swung at a marginal pitch and popped up to Alcides Escobar. That pop up got Crow his first out, he heaved a sigh of relief and went on to get the save. Had Rosales started the ninth inning with a leadoff walk, the game might have had a different ending. Rosales did not pay attention to Crow’s warm up pitches and that cost his team a chance at a win.

There’s always something to watch when you’re at a baseball games and that includes the between-inning warm-up pitches. The pitcher has to let the catcher know what pitch he wants to throw and here are the signs that the pitcher will use:

FASTBALL: The pitcher will point his glove at the catcher palm down.

CURVEBALL: The pitcher will flip his glove at the catcher palm up. It’ll look like the pitcher is playing with a yo-yo.

SLIDER: The pitcher will make a diagonal, sweeping motion with his glove.

SINKER: The pitcher will make another diagonal motion, but this time with the ball in his bare hand.

CHANGE-UP: The pitcher will point his glove at the catcher, then pull it back toward himself.

If the pitcher didn’t throw anything but his fastball for a strike, you — and the hitters who were paying attention — know he’s less likely to throw an off-speed pitch unless he’s ahead in the count. If the pitcher had trouble throwing his fastball for a strike, you know the hitters might want to take a pitch until the pitcher shows he can get the ball over the plate.

Like I said: there’s always something to watch at a baseball game and now you know what to watch between innings.

To reach Lee Judge, call 816-234-4482 or send email to ljudge@kcstar.com.