Monday, April 18, 2005

Sunny Afternoon

I made my first trek out to the K on Sunday. Beautiful day for a game, but that was about the only thing the Royals had going for them.

In the spirit of finding new and entertaining ways to lose a ballgame, the Tigers four-run third inning began with back to back BUNTS. Nook Logan led off the inning with a perfect drag bunt down the first base line. There was some discussion today in the Star about Mike Sweeney’s inability to make up his mind with how to make the play.

First of all, let me get one thing out of the way. It seems there are a ton of people who like to rip Sweeney for everything. From defense, to lack of clutch hitting, to the weather, he takes his share of the heat for the problems with this team. Yes, his defense at first isn’t good. But defense at first is overrated and his bat is just too valuable to keep out of the lineup. I’ve never understood where the ill will toward Sweeney comes from. That will be a topic for another post.

My seats are right down the first base line, so I had the bird’s-eye view as the play unfolded. The way I saw it, Logan pushed a perfect bunt down the line. If Sweeney charged to field the bunt, the speedy Logan would have blazed by him on the way to the ball. If Sweeney stays back to field the bunt, Logan would outrun either Hernandez or Gotay to the bag. It looked like Sweeney considered both the options, illustrated by the little dance he did, and ultimately stayed back to field the bunt. There really wasn’t anything he could do. It was a textbook drag bunt.

So, Brandon Inge follows with another bunt, advancing on an error. Runners on second and third for Pudge Rodriguez and voila, the dreaded big inning to sink the Royals yet again.

Hernandez didn’t pitch terrible, but he gave up a ton of base hits and was behind in the count for most of the day. The batters, as usual, were swinging early in the count and making outs. Mike Maroth sailed through seven-plus innings at just above 100 pitches.

For the weekend the Royals were able to draw a grand total of FIVE walks. Three of them came in the win on Friday. The Royals absolutely refuse to make the opposing pitcher work for his outs. That’s going to make for some long afternoons out at the K.


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