Yesterday, the Royals fired hitting coach Pedro Grifol and hired former Cubs manager Dale Sveum to replace him. Despite some promising bats in their lineup, the Royals enter play tonight with the league’s second-worst on-base percentage at .308 and the worst slugging percentage at .352. The league averages are .322 and .394, respectively.
Entering Friday’s action, only three Royals have slugged three or more home runs: Salvador Perez (5), Mike Moustakas (4), and Alex Gordon (3). Moustakas, with a .543 OPS, was demoted to Triple-A last week. As a team, the Royals only barely outpace Nelson Cruz in home runs, 22 to 19. It’s been bad.
Sveum has a theory on why the Royals have been so bad offensively. Via MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel:
Sveum’s immediate take on the Royals is they’re not feasting enough on high pitches, instead going after too many low in the zone.
“It’s not rocket science,” Sveum said. “If you don’t get a good pitch up in the zone, you’re not going to be very successful. That’s basically the bottom line. We have very talented hitters that have done it in the big leagues and have had good years in the big leagues so sometimes it’s as simple as pitch selection, sometimes it’s as simple as maybe a mechanical flaw.”
It will be interesting to see if Sveum makes a noticeable difference on the team, or if the Royals are simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
The Yankees’ offense finally woke up, scoring eight runs in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday night while the pitching kept the Astros’ offense at bay. That came after scoring a total of two runs against Astros pitching in the first two games. For a recap of the Yankees’ scoring in Game 3, click here.
CC Sabathia wasn’t dominant, but he executed pitches when he needed to most, preventing the Astros from capitalizing on their opportunities. Overall, he gave up three hits and four walks while striking out five on 99 pitches. He’s the first pitcher, age 37 or older, to throw six shutout innings in the postseason since Pedro Martinez for the Phillies against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the 2009 NLCS. Monday’s start also marked Sabathia’s first career scoreless outing in the postseason — it was his 22nd postseason appearance.
Astros starter Charlie Morton couldn’t escape the fourth inning, when he allowed a run and loaded the bases before departing. Will Harris allowed all three inherited runners to score on Aaron Judge‘s three-run home run to left field. Morton was ultimately charged with seven runs on six hits, two walks, and a hit batsman with three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
The Yankees’ bullpen held the fort after the sixth. Adam Warren worked a scoreless seventh. Warren returned in the eighth and retired the side in order, despite yielding a pair of well-struck balls to deep center field.
In the ninth, Dellin Betances walked both hitters he faced to start the frame. Unsurprisingly, manager Joe Girardi had a short leash and brought in Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle gave up a single to Cameron Maybin then struck out George Springer, but walked Alex Bregman to force in a run. Kahnle got Jose Altuve to ground into a 4-3 double play to end the game in an 8-1 victory, giving the Yankees their first win of the series.
The ALCS continues on Tuesday at 5 PM ET. The Astros will start Lance McCullers and the Yankees will send Sonny Gray to the hill.