Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Game Reflections - #78 vs Royals

The most ridiculously cool first pitch you will ever see.
 The Padres appeared to be cruising along until Brayan Pena's 2 RBI single in the sixth inning.  I blame 'the wave' that started around the same time the Royals put two runners in scoring position.  Last night's game entertained, with all sorts of action.  To the reflections!

- The Royals are hit-and-run fools.  They executed two perfectly and sent the runner on numerous other occasions.  There was a slightly comical sequence in the third inning when Chris Getz got the 'green light' to go on like 15 straight pitches.  Both successful hit-and-runs directly led to Kansas City scoring.  Maybe it's me and my old eyes but one does not see much hit-and-run anymore.

- Jeff Francis is a ground-ball pitcher (1.47 GB/FB ratio).  Ryan Ludwick is a fly-ball hitter.  They seemed to be a bad fit, but Ludwick had a HR and double in two at-bats off Francis, staking starter Mat Latos to an early lead.

- Ludwick would have had a third RBI last night on his double if not for a textbook relay play by the Royals.  Alex Gordon, who is a converted third baseman, expertly played the carom off the left-field wall and threw a strike to the cutoff man Alcides Escobar.  Escobar then threw a 180' pea to Pena, nailing Chase Headley.  The collision was merely pro-forma.  Headley was out by 6 feet.  I said it on Twitter last night and I'll say it again here - that was a great baseball play.

- That relay to end the third inning was the first of three great throws from the outfield grass.  Melky Cabrera almost got Chris Denorfia tagging from second to third in the sixth, and Denorfia almost turned the trick on Pena's tag play in the bottom of the same inning.

- Another one of those searches I wish I could do - the last time a Padre pitcher scored on a wild pitch.  Baseball-Reference's search fields don't appear set up to support that (If any of you readers knows how to do it, please pass your secret on to me so I can learn how).  Latos did it in the bottom of the fourth.

- The winning run in this one scored without benefit of a hit.  Escobar air-mailed the ball to first on Jesus Guzman's grounder; it landed about 15 rows back.  Guzman took off for third on Hudson's grounder to third, forcing a throw from Royal first basemen Eric Hosmer which was not caught by Escobar.  Guzman trotted home.

I love aggressive baserunning like that.  Because Moustakas (Royals 3B) had to come in to field O-Dog's ball, there was no one to cover the bag, so it became a footrace between Guzman and Escobar.  Escobar correctly anticipated needing to cover the bag, but he, the throw, and Guzman all arrived at about the same time, and Escobar couldn't make the play.

- Guzman started at first last night and did OK.  I thought he should have been charged with an error on Gordon's ground ball leading off the sixth - it looked like it went through him from my vantage point waaaaay out in LF - but admittedly I didn't have the best angle to make that determination.  Anthony Rizzo came in as a defensive replacement the next inning.

- The other interesting substitution was removing Ludwick in favor of Will Venable for the ninth.  Ludwick's defense is not as bad as some would lead you to believe, but he does occasionally look just awful trying to go back and corral balls hit to left.  On the substituion Denorfia took over in left and Venable, who had pinch-hit in the eighth, stayed in to play right.  FWIW, Ludwick's plus/minus (from Bill James Online) is +5 (LF), Denorfia +6 (RF), Venable +6 (RF).  On the defensive spectrum LF is considered a less difficult position than RF, so Denorfia's +6 can be considered more than just 1 point better than Ludwick's +5.  Maybin clocks in at +14 in CF.

Podcast tonight at 10pm PDT.  It'd be nice to have another victory to crow about.

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