Judging the Royals

How base runners disrupted Jake Peavy’s rhythm

Before Game One on Tuesday, Giants pitcher Jake Peavy talked about how disruptive fast base runners can be. Pitchers want to pitch in rhythm, but a fast runner on first base prevents that; the pitcher has to vary how long he holds the ball in the set position or the base runner will time the pitcher’s delivery to home plate, get a great jump and steal second base.

In Game Two Peavy proved prophetic; when the Giants starting pitcher had a runner on base he was holding the ball in the set position and using a quicker delivery home—and he wasn’t as effective.

In the innings where Peavy had to deal with a base runner—the first, the second and the sixth—he struggled. One base runner led to another and Peavy gave up runs in each of those innings. When Peavy had no base runner—the third, fourth and fifth—he could throw at his own pace, use a full leg kick and he got through those innings 1-2-3.

Some pitchers are like that; they pitch well with the bases empty, but scuffle when they have to deal with runners. That being the case, the key to beating those guys is finding a way to get a runner on base.

Tuesday night the Royals did that, beat Peavy and the Giants 7-2 and tied the World Series up, one win apiece.

The Royals take advantage of Travis Ishikawa

The San Francisco Giants left fielder, Travis Ishikawa, is actually a first baseman and hasn’t had much experience in the outfield and the Royals took advantage of that—most notably in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Peavy started the sixth, gave up a single to Lorenzo Cain and then, with Cain and the stolen base on his mind, walked Eric Hosmer. That brought Billy Butler to the plate and the Royals DH came into the game hitting .424 off Peavy. Butler had already raised that average with a first-inning single.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn’t about to let Peavy face Billy again—especially with the go-ahead run on second base—and brought in a new pitcher; Jean Machi. The pitching change didn’t work; Machi fell behind Billy 2-0 and Butler singled to left. With nobody out—a time most third base coaches are conservative—Mike Jirschele waved Cain home and Lorenzo beat Ishikawa’s throw easily.

When Ishikawa is in left field and has to handle a ball hit his way, watch the Royals base runners—they’ll try to take advantage of Travis Ishikawa’s inexperience.

Game notes

*The Royals once again played outstanding defense: Eric Hosmer made two diving stops, Jarrod Dyson made a nice running catch, Omar Infante went back on a high pop fly and made a difficult over-the-shoulder catch and Alcides Escobar made a play on a difficult ball after his view was blocked by a runner. Outstanding defensive plays—robbing hits from the opposition—can change a game’s momentum.

*There was some yapping back and forth after the Infante home run and the next time Salvador Perez came to the plate Tim Lincecum launched a ball in his direction. It wasn’t intentional: the pitch was a curveball—if you’re throwing at a batter you do it with a fastball.

*A tight zone and eight straight fastballs contributed to that first-inning Blanco home run. When an umpire won’t give you the corners, a pitcher has to come into the heart of the zone.

*Salvador Perez tacked on some insurance runs in that sixth inning when he hit a fastball for a double. Once again you wonder why the Giants would throw Perez a hittable fastball when he’s been chasing off-speed pitches outside the strike zone.

For those watching at home; you’re lucky

The reporters in the press box are crammed in like sardines; I’ve got my left elbow on a guy from Yahoo Sports and my right elbow on a reporter from the Kyoto News. If I look straight ahead I see a post and my view of home plate is blocked by a laptop and a telephone. I’m seeing most of the game by watching a small TV about 15 feet away.

Two thirds of the people in the press box have no direct view of the field so they’re watching the game on TV while they stuff their faces with free food—and the media is way into free food. There are probably four or five times as many reporters in the press box for this World Series as there would be for a regular season game and that’s a problem—there’s exactly one toilet for men and one for women.

So while you’re watching the game from the comfort of your Barca-lounger or bar stool, we’re sitting on folding chairs, elbowing each other for space and playing a game of intestinal roulette. It’s cool to be at the World Series, but there are a few drawbacks.