Judging the Royals

Weird start times for Royals-Blue Jays mean afternoon shadows at Kauffman Stadium

Fans celebrate as Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is introduced during Saturday’s ALCS Game 2 at sunny Kauffman Stadium.
Fans celebrate as Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is introduced during Saturday’s ALCS Game 2 at sunny Kauffman Stadium. along@kcstar.com

MLB sends out the news releases, but in some ways TV is in charge of how things go in the postseason. If TV wants in-game interviews, by God there will be reporters and camera crews in the dugouts. If TV wants the base coaches to wear microphones, the base coaches will be wearing microphones.

Oh, here’s one: ever think that a playoff game seems unusually long? Could be because the breaks between innings are longer — that makes more room for commercials. It might not be good for the pitchers who have to wait to throw, but that’s not really the point, is it?

(OK, diatribe almost concluded … now where was I?)

So because TV wants to show as much as possible of each game, teams get some weird start times. If your game is starting at 3 p.m., you’ll be dealing with afternoon shadows.

Watch for the shadows to come between the hitter and pitcher; when that happens, the ball is going from bright sunlight to shadow, and it’s easy to lose sight of it for a moment. That makes hitting — and sometimes fielding — tough.

A pitcher might suddenly look like Cy Young once he has the shadows working for him.

Eiland’s visit to the mound

I got to talk to Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland Saturday, and the mound conversation during Friday night’s game went just about like I thought it did. After Salvador Perez and Edinson Volquez got away from using Eddie’s two-seam fastball and walked Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista in the sixth inning, Dave went out to the mound and told them to get back to using the fastball.

After that, Volquez got the Toronto Blue Jays 1-2-3.

Dave’s point was simple: The Blue Jays hadn’t adjusted to the fastballs away yet, and until they did, Volquez should keep throwing them. Watch a hitter’s front hip, and it’ll tell you what that hitter is trying to do.

If it opens quickly, he’s looking for a pitch in; if it stays closed, he’s trying to drive the ball the other way.

And don’t adjust until the hitters show you have to.

Lorenzo Cain’s gamer

A “gamer” is a bat or glove that a player uses in a game; so far, so good. But finding a gamer — especially a bat — can be difficult.

After Friday night’s game, I asked Lorenzo Cain if he was finally happy with the bat he’s using, and he had a question of his own: “When’s the last time you saw me hit a missile?”

I mentioned that the ball he hit to right field in the third inning of Friday night’s game was hit pretty well, and Lorenzo said, yeah, but it still wasn’t a missile. I said if I’d hit it that ball, it would have been the hardest I’d ever hit a baseball. But no one ever paid to watch me play — at least financially.

Saturday’s game notes

... People ask why Alcides Escobar gets a first pitch to hit; but would you really be better off if you threw him ball one? Well, maybe: This season, coming into Saturday’s game, Esky had hit .364 on the first pitch, .208 on 1-0 counts, and .462 on 2-0. But even when he’s hitting .364, he’s still making outs around 64 percent of the time.

... A foul ball shot into the crowd Saturday, and that got people talking about netting and crowd safety. One guy got on Twitter and said he doesn’t like sitting behind nets. Fair enough, but if you wanted to sit in the middle of the infield, should baseball let you? They extend the netting down the lines in Japan and baseball still seems to be pretty popular over there.

... Before Game 2, Ned Yost was asked about his Game 4 starter and declined to name one. Why name a starter before you have to? If you need the guy before then and have to use him, someone will be happy to criticize you for changing your mind (when you never really wanted to name that starter in the first place). Why paint yourself into a corner?

... Salvador Perez took a foul tip off the mask and home plate umpire Laz Diaz went out to the mound to deliver Yordano Ventura a new baseball. He also cleaned home plate on his return trip. When a catcher takes a foul tip off a body part, the umpire will stall for time. When the umpire is the one that gets smoked, the catcher usually makes a mound visit to give the home-plate umpire time to recover.

... Danny Duffy came in blowing gas: 98 mph. When you pitch in relief, there’s no pacing yourself; it’s a sprint, so give it all you got.

... Toronto’s Jose Bautista once again showed up the umpires; he made sure everyone knew he thought Diaz missed a called strike three in the seventh. Watch for borderline pitches to go against Bautista — umpires don’t like being shown up, and they might pay him back.