Judging the Royals

The Royals’ aggressive base running pays off — eventually

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy sits on the ground after missing the catch on a pickoff attempt on Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain in the sixth inning during game four of the World Series on Saturday, October 31, 2015 at Citi Field in New York. Cain advanced to third on the play.
New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy sits on the ground after missing the catch on a pickoff attempt on Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain in the sixth inning during game four of the World Series on Saturday, October 31, 2015 at Citi Field in New York. Cain advanced to third on the play. deulitt@kcstar.com

Friday night in Game 3 of the World Series Alex Gordon made what would normally be considered a base running mistake; in the second inning Gordon was thrown out at third base and it was the first out of the inning.

You don’t want to make the first out of the inning at third base; if you stop at second, you’re still in scoring position and your team has at least three chances to knock you in.

But after Gordon was called out on replay review, third base coach Mike Jirschele wasn’t too upset; the Royals had been an aggressive base running team all summer, they weren’t going to stop now in the World Series.

And that aggressive style of base running may have had a positive effect in Game 4.

The game broke open when Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy got in a hurry and missed an Eric Hosmer groundball. That error allowed Ben Zobrist to score from second base and tie the game.

Afterwards Hosmer talked about aggressive base running and what it does to a defense: everybody feels like they have to hurry. Otherwise some base runner will take an extra 90 feet.

You don’t want to lose a runner on the bases if you can help it, but if you’re going to be aggressive it’s going to happen. The alternative is playing the game 90 feet at a time — station-to-station. Do that and you’ll need four singles to score a run and the defense will get to play at the pace they like. Push it on the base paths and something bad might happen, but that bad thing might turn into a good thing later.

Like Daniel Murphy letting a groundball get past him.

More aggressive base running: Cain going first-to-third opens a hole for Moose

When Murphy let that groundball trickle into right field, the runner on first base — Lorenzo Cain — hustled around second, took an extra 90 feet and went to third.

By doing that it forced the Mets to hold Eric Hosmer at first base.

With the first baseman holding Hosmer, Moustakas had a big hole to shoot for on the right side. Moose hit the ball that direction and got it through the hole for the go-ahead run to score.

Small stuff like having to hold a runner on first base can have huge consequences.

Alex Rios and Yoenis Cespedes make mental mistakes

The Royals won Game 4 so people probably won’t spend all that much time talking about Alex Rios and his mental mistake.

Rios appeared to forget the number of outs — and in a big league park there are quite a few scoreboard’s you can look at if you’re not sure. Alex caught the second out of the third inning and started jogging in. Meanwhile a Mets runner was tagging up and scoring.

The Mets lost so people might spend more time talking about Yoenis Cespedes and his mental mistake.

The game ended on jam-shot, soft line drive to Mike Moustakas. Moose caught the ball for out number two and for some reason Cespedes was well on his way to second base. Mike threw the ball to Eric Hosmer, Cespedes was doubled off and suddenly the game was over.

The Royals believe in aggressive base running, but you also have to be smart; you freeze or start back to the base on a line drive and Cespedes didn’t do that.

Mike Moustakas at short

In the ninth inning with Daniel Murphy at the plate, the Royals put on a defensive shift that had third baseman Mike Moustakas positioned well over toward second base.

Wade Davis got Murphy to hit a grounder in Mike’s direction; he dove, but missed the ball.

After the game I asked Moose if the ball had side-spin on it — it didn’t look like it was traveling in a straight line — and Moose said: “No, I just can’t play shortstop, dude.”

Gotta give him points for honesty.

Do not get ahead of yourself

The Royals are up 3-1 in the series, but that doesn’t mean they should open the champagne just yet. Afterwards, Moustakas talked about the need to put Saturday night’s game behind them; win or lose the Royals can do nothing to change the past.

Time to focus on Sunday night’s game. Do not think about champagne or rings or parties; play the game one pitch at a time. Focus on the present.

There’s still a lot of work to do.

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