Monday, May 10, 2004

Nine By Nine, 05.09.04

1. Yesterday was one of those games where you finish up at about 5pm and you think, "I spent my Sunday watching that crap?". A good battle for a while, but when the Sox gave it up they gave it up big time, and it was never really fun after that. Yawn. But keep in mind, they were playing for a series sweep. It's not easy to sweep. The goal for every series should be 2 out of 3. You take 2 out of every 3 games, you go .667, you win 108 games, you make Yankees cry. They took their 2, so even though Sunday stunk, mission was accomplished.

2. Just for the record, this is exactly what Derek Lowe looked like last year. Messy mechanics leading to inconsistent control, causing mediocre outings. In 2003, it was supposedly residue from his skin cancer lay off, but this year he had a full spring. Lowe needs people to swing, he's not going to paint the corners and freeze the hitter. If he can't get his ball over reliably, batters won't take chances. It took him until after the all-star break last year to sort this out. What's the problem now, hu?

3. You know Jimy Williams sits Pokey Reese yesterday. "Hey kid, good game Saturday, you're getting hot, how 'bout a day off?"

4. The ol' neighborhood call. In the top of the third, Reese stepped off the bag too early and Umpire Joe West called the runner safe. Pokey insists he stayed on long enough, but he's wrong, he was definitely off. Of course this doesn't really matter 98% of the time, but today Joe decided to take the rule seriously. If a fielder is around the bag at the time of the throw the umpire usually allows them the out, and it's sort of unfair to pull the rug out on occasion. The Ninth is all for calling the rule book as written, but then you've got to do it all the time, Joseph. I can't say for certain, but something tells me you don't do that. The players need to know what to expect.

5. In the 6th inning, Carlos "Pinstripes" Beltran won the game for the Royals with a bases-loaded double. In the 3rd however, he made an odd choice. Trailing Boston 2-0, Beltran had runners on first and second, one out, and worked the count to 3-0. Carlos is by far the Royals best hitter, and sort of has to produce in such situations if Kansas City is going to win. Most often, hitters never swing 3-0, but that's sort of silly. If you see a pitch that you're likely to hit for extra bases, you might as well give it a hack, that is why you're carrying a bat after all. The Red Sox have been doing that lately, and The Ninth has been pleased (I'm sure they're comforted). But you should only swing if you see that fat pitch. 3-0 is so close to a walk, and you'll almost certainly get as good a pitch on 3-1, so unless you're gonna hit a double, hold up. Beltran however, perhaps feeling a sense responsibility, went a wandering on 3-0 and swung at a low and away sinker, grounding out to first. Moved the hitters over, but bases loaded with one out would've been a lot better than second and third and two. That's why some players don't swing 3-0. It's easy to get carried away.

6. With nobody out in the 6th, Tony Pena had Aaron Guiel bunt Joe Randa to second. Great way to kill a rally Tony. The cardinal sin here though is that Guiel was hitting 6th, so Pena was depending on the bottom of his order to drive the run in. Never bunt to the bottom of the order. It makes no sense. If you don't think Guiel is good enough to get a hit and advance the runner, why would you expect Santiago or Relaford to do it?

7. Again, in the 6th. Game's decisive at-bat: Beltran vs. Malaska, bases loaded, 2 out. Malaska battled to a full count, but got fastball happy. Either the pitcher or the catcher doesn't trust his offspeed stuff, because Mark had Beltran set up perfectly for his curve. A nice big looper would've caught him off balance, but someone wasn't confident he could throw it for a strike. Malaska stuck with the heat, Beltran doubled to left, and three Royal gentleman pranced home. TMQ writes the words "Game Over" in his notebook.

8. In the next half inning, the Sox had their chances. It can really soften the blow of falling behind big (in this case, 4 runs) if you can get one or two back the next inning. It seems to shift momentum back your way, even if you're still trailing. They had first and second with one out, bases loaded with two outs, but couldn't punch anything through. After failing there, the next three innings were sort of academic.

9. The Ninth has gotten on Pokey pretty hard, so it's only fair to offer up a hardy congratulations for a great weekend of both hitting and glove work. He's a lovable guy for sure, and if he can hit anywhere above .260, well both he and Papa Jack deserve a fine gift this holiday season.
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