I mentioned earlier that I’m in an impossibly good mood today. The park has a lot to do with it. Great weather of course. Just woke up on the right side of the bed somehow.
And when I’m in a good mood I like to walk around and take pictures of stuff. Yes, I realize that my job is very hard. Sorry to keep reminding you all of that.
Stuff like this scene to the right. Robin Yount instructing Mat Gamel on the finer points of infield defense. It must have worked, because Gamel put on a defensive clinic at first in the third inning of today’s game. He saved Brooks Conrad’s bacon with a nifty jump-tag when Conrad threw wide of first on a grounder. The next batter hit a hot shot to first which Gamel gobbled up and most guys wouldn’t have. Now all he needs to do is to find Yount a hat that fits him and his day will have been perfection.
Other stuff I saw while bopping around Maryvale before today’s game:
I wrote this morning about how close I came to getting a baseball. If I thought about it — and didn’t mind getting my butt kicked out of the park — I could have gotten a lot of baseballs here.
This guy was fun. Wearing a Prince Fielder Tigers jersey at the Brewers ballpark. And you all say I’m a troll. This guy is the troll king. I should look into hiring him.
“Dudes, wait … listen … what if the universe is just, like, a particle of some larger atom.”
“I know, Frankie De La Cruz … I blew your mind just now. I’m sorry. Here, we can hug the confusion away.”
Four parks so far this week, four pics of equipment bags on grass. I have two more to go this weekend for the perfecto. I like my chances.
This was pretty neat. The entire team — and manager Ron Roenicke — was there and watching attentively as others did base running drills. You don’t see that very often. Usually teams break up into a bunch of different groups when those kinds of drills are going down. No idea if this is a usual thing or if it was just random happenstance.
I’m watching the game now. Best things besides those Gamel plays so far: (1) Dan Wheeler retiring Zelous Wheeler on a 6-3 grounder; and (2) Ryan Braun walking.
AGAIN. God, that guy.
Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.
Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.
Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.
It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.
After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.
The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.
Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.
The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.
Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.
Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.
After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.
According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.
The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.