When you face good hitters, you figure they’re going to get their hits, so smart pitchers try to limit the damage by getting the lesser hitters in front of them. On Thursday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers, Yordano Ventura didn’t do that.
In the bottom of the third inning Ventura walked leadoff batter Alex Avila, the eight-hole hitter in the Detroit Tigers’ order. Even after getting two hits in Thursday’s game Avila is only hitting .185. Then — to make matters worse — Ventura also walked the nine-hole hitter, Andrew Romine.
Guys who hit at the bottom of the order are generally hitting at the bottom of the order for a reason. Ventura put two base runners on and then had to face the top of the order. Guys who hit at the top of the order are generally hitting at the top of the order for a reason and before the inning was over, both walks had scored.
Most of the time you can live with what the other team earns, but when you walk people hitting eighth and ninth, you’re helping the other team. Thursday afternoon Yordano Ventura did not limit the damage and the Royals lost 8-6.
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Ian Kinsler’s walk-off home run; was it thrown to the wrong location?
If you keep your mouth shut and your ears open (and I don’t do either very well) you can learn some stuff. But despite my personal failings, one of the things I’ve learned is that it can be dangerous to pitch inside in fastball counts.
When hitters get in a 2-0, 2-1, 3-0 or 3-1 count, a lot of them look for a fastball and look for it on the inner half. If they get the pitch they’re looking for, they want to “turn and burn” which is baseball slang for hitting the heck out of a baseball to the pull side of the field.
(Watch Eric Hosmer in those counts and you’ll see what I mean.)
In the ninth inning of a tie game Ryan Madson fell behind Ian Kinsler 2-0. Madson and catcher Drew Butera decided to go inside on Kinsler, and Kinsler turned and burned for a two-run, line drive, walk-off homer.
And after that pitch, the Royals walked off losers.
Alex Rios and the wall
In the third inning of Thursday’s game, Victor Martinez hit a home run over the right field fence. Unless Alex Rios had a stepladder and a trampoline to work with, there was no way Rios could catch that ball, but his approach still left something to be desired.
When a ball is hit over their head, good outfielders get on their horse and go; they sprint full-speed to the right spot and then make the necessary adjustments.
On this play Rios “drifted” and that means he never got going full speed, he just kept drifting back on the ball. Alex also misplayed the wall once he got there: once again good outfielders sprint, get to the wall early, find it with an outstretched hand, position themselves and prepare to make a leap.
Rios just kept drifting until he hit the wall, never got his feet under him and never made a leap. In this case it didn’t matter: the ball cleared the wall by plenty — but if the ball had cleared the wall by 1 inch, Rios still wouldn’t have caught it.
His approach on playing the wall didn’t change the outcome on this play, but it’s the kind of thing you’d like to see cleaned up before Rios has a play where it matters.