Small ball prevails … in a 9-8 game

25 Comments

Seven stolen bases. Four sacrifice bunts.

That’s going to be the lingering story from the Royals’ defeat of the A’s in Tuesday’s wild card game: the Royals small-balled the A’s to death, finally prevailing 9-8 in 12 innings.

It seems to be a ludicrous way to sum up a game that included 17 runs scored and 28 hits. But there’s no denying that the Royals did the “little things” exceptionally well.

The Royals were 7-for-8 stealing bases. Their big baserunning blunder came in the second, when Billy Butler was caught wandering off first base. Unfortunately, the caught stealing there went to Eric Hosmer, who took off for home rather than leave Butler hanging out to dry.

The Royals sacrificed in the third, ninth, 10th and 11th innings. The first two preceded runs. In the third, Alcides Escobar moved Mike Moustakas from first to second. The Royals went on to collect an RBI double and an RBI single with two outs in the frame. In the ninth, pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson was sacrificed to second by Escobar and then stole third, scoring the tying run on a sac fly. In the 10th and 11th, the Royals failed to plate the runner from second with one out.

It was in the eighth that the Royals’ speed was the biggest factor. Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, pinch-runner Terrence Gore and Alex Gordon all stole bases as part of a three-run frame. Perhaps all three runs would have scored anyway; the last runner to score in the inning, Eric Hosmer, didn’t need to steal a base to do so. But perhaps not. The Royals’ speed certainly had the A’s jumpy, not just in the eighth.

So, the steals worked, undeniably. The bunts? One could certainly argue that the Royals would have been better off playing it straight up, and one certainly would be arguing that right now had they lost. After all, the Royals’ hit .341 on the night. It was the eighth, when they didn’t use the bunt, that they had their biggest rally and wreaked the most havoc.

 

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.