Judging the Royals

How the radar gun revealed a problem with Yordano Ventura

Yordano Ventura throws his fastball in the upper nineties; sometimes it even breaks 100 miles an hour. Ventura’s changeup is in the mid-to-upper-eighties and his curveball clocks in at an average of 82 miles an hour.

So when Ned Yost looked up and saw 93 miles an hour on the scoreboard radar reading, he asked pitching coach Dave Eiland what it was: "A two-seamer?"

In the second inning Yordano Ventura started throwing some of his fastballs in the low nineties. The Houston Astros Robbie Grossman saw a fastball at 92, Marwin Gonzalez got a 93 MPH heater. But then Jose Altuve saw a fastball at 98 and another at 99. Ventura was pitching like a Ferrari with a faulty carburetor. Yordano was asked if he was OK and he said he felt fine.

But there was more of the same in the third: Marc Krauss saw a fastball at 92, Robbie Grossman, Alex Presley and Marwin Gonzalez saw fastballs at 93. Yost noticed Yordano was getting under his pitches—which would account for him being high in the zone—saw the radar readings and went to the mound.

Ventura was pulled from the game in the middle of an at-bat.

Afterwards, Yost met with the press and told us Ventura had discomfort on the outside of his elbow which, if you’re going to have discomfort, is where you want to have it. Pain on the inside of the elbow can signal ligament damage. Yordano Ventura will have an MRI on Tuesday and until then all Royals fans can do is hope.

The Astros beat the Royals 9-2 and right now that doesn’t seem so important.

Game notes

*The Astros corner outfielders have bigger challenge here in Kauffman Stadium than they do back home in Houston. There’s much more territory to cover and visiting outfielders often back up when they turn around and see how far away the wall is. If they play deep, look for balls to fall in front of them and runners to take the extra base; guys who play deep have longer throws.

*In the first inning a couple walks led to a couple runs. Jose Altuve singled and a walk to George Springer pushed Altuve into scoring position. Another walk loaded the bases and moved Altuve to third and Springer to second. A groundball scored Altuve and put Springer on third and a sac fly brought Springer home.

Considering what Springer did in his next four at-bats—double, double, single, homer—maybe walking him was the best idea.

*In the second inning Yordano Ventura got squeezed on a two-out 3-2 pitch to Jose Altuve. Failure to ring up Altuve cost the Royals three runs when George Springer doubled and Dexter Fowler singled. *Alex Gordon did some nice base running in the fourth inning to get the Royals on the board. He was on first base when Salvador Perez hit a deep fly ball. Gordon read outfielder Dexter Fowler’s body language and retreated to first based once Fowler settled under the ball. Gordon tagged and moved up to second base with two outs; on hit away from scoring. Stay on first and Alex would be two hits away from scoring.

Lorenzo Cain singled and Gordon’s heads up base running paid off when he scored.

*Third base coach Dale Sveum waved Gordon home and it’s understandable; the Royals aren’t hitting so Sveum is pushing it on the base paths. He can’t assume they’re going to get another hit, so he’s waving runners home. Remember that the next time someone gets thrown out at home plate and cut Sveum some slack.

*It’s only a bit of an exaggeration to say George Springer could have beaten the Royals by himself; after all, he scored five runs and they scored three. His last run came on a 414-foot home run.

*This was not an entertaining game and there were very few positives for Royals fans…but give some credit to relievers Michael Mariot and Louis Coleman. After Ventura left the game early, they came in and wore it; their efforts meant the rest of the pen did not get trashed in a losing cause.

A reader’s question about Sunday’s game

After Ciriaco tagged and scored in the third inning, why was Dyson still standing on first? Shouldn't he be tagging up on a foul ball and taking off when the outfielder tries to airmail it to the plate?

The answer

Just to get you up to speed in case you weren’t watching Sunday’s game; it was the third inning, there was one out, Eric Hosmer was at the plate, Pedro Ciriaco was on third and Jarrod Dyson was on first. Hosmer hit a pop fly in foul territory down the left field line and when the left fielder caught the ball, Ciriaco tagged and scored.

So why didn’t Dyson tag and move up to second base?

Because he was stealing on the pitch. First base coach Rusty Kuntz said Dyson was standing on second when the ball was caught and had to scramble to get back to first base.

Today’s Throwback excerpt

In this one Jason Kendall talks about how some of the younger players need to be taught how to behave like a big leaguer and how veteran players help that happen:

Today’s prima donna players have all the talent in the world, but have an attitude like the game owes them something. People forget that a lot of big league players are still kids: they’re 21, 22, 23 years old. They still need to be taught to do stuff the right way—on and off the field. They need to be taught to act like professionals. Take the clubhouse: the laundry bin’s right there, but young guys still take their sweaty jocks off and drop them on the floor. A veteran will tell them to pick it up and put it in the laundry bin—don’t make someone else do it.

Young guys need to be taught about behaving in a professional manner, along with playing the game the right way. Pros do not launch their batting helmet every time they strike out. Being a professional includes every little thing you can possibly imagine—the way you play, the way you act, the things you say, tipping the clubhouse attendants. Teaching young guys how to be big league ball players is what veteran ballplayers do. It comes full circle: if the kids are lucky enough to stay around a while, then it will be their turn to teach someone else.

Throwback is now available in stores and on-line.