Great Lakes Royals

August 18, 2009 8:56 AM

Royals lose; Offense not at Fault (for once)

The White Sox did outlast the Royals 8-7 on a rainy Monday night at the Cell in Chicago, but the story of the night is that the Royals are showing improvement in the facets of the game they need to.  The White Sox got all of their runs--save the decisive one--off of Brian Bannister, but he put in seven well-pitched innings, and just found himself uncharacteristically victimized by the long ball.

Mike Jacobs played for all of one pitch.  I'm pretty sure that's not the first time that's happened this year, but I'm certain that this is the first time it was a good thing.  Down 7-4 in the 8th inning with two outs, Mark Teahen and Mitch Maier drew walks, and then Trey Hillman went with Mike Jacobs as a pinch hitter, in a all-or-most-likely-nothing move of despiration.

Flashback to June of 2008, and you'll find that this is not the first time Hillman has employed this strategy.  Down to his final out down by a run with the bases empty last season, Hillman hit for Ross Gload with Miguel Olivo.  In a vacuum, you're probably better off with Gload.  He's a better on-base guy, and with no one on, power hitting has limited value, even in a one run game.  The Royals do not play in a vacuum, and are in fact one of the worst hitting lineups in recent memory.  Given the quality of the team, an all or nothing shot might be your only weapon.  Olivo homered off the first pitch and sent the game into extras, where the Royals won in 10.

This decision was easier to make.  Down by three, you've got to take some sort of shot in that situation as not to give up.  It's kind of sad that pulling Yuniesky Betancourt from the game actually makes the Royals a worse defense, but yeah, I'd take Yuni and Bloomquist up the middle any day of the week over Bloomquist and Callaspo.  Anyway, that's neither here nor there.  Mike Jacobs saw one pitch, a get-me-over fastball, and he hit it to Kentucky (you can test a Chicagoian's knowledge of his own geography.  Go ahead, it checks out).  One pitch, tie game.

Trey Hillman has employed this all or nothing tactic with Olivo and Jacobs unsuccessfully this year, so it's not like he's charmed or anything, but the percentages have been in his favor thus far.

Unfortunately, the Royals bullpen gave up the game in the 8th inning.  Which, I'm not sure you needed to be told regardless of whether you saw the game or not.  One run loss, you probably could have just assumed that fact on your own.  Scott Podsednik drove in the game winning run which means he gets to stay in the league at least until the next Royals series.

If Dayton Moore didn't view defense as an intangible (seriously), he might have actually gotten a decent player in Betancourt.  The guy is a hacker, but the Royals have him taking pitches, and he's showed a pretty quick bat.  It remains to be seen whether or not getting ahead in the count makes him a better hitter, as hackers tend to hack in all counts, but I wouldn't label his future offensive value as completely hopeless.

Problem being that the above scouting report is the kind of optimistic report you could use to pump up a defensive-minded shortstop who has an issue with the bat.  Think Angel Berroa circa 2004.  "Well, his offensive numbers are gone, but if he can play defense, and takes some pitches, we've still got a good player".  Betancourt may have "Defense" the intangible, but he certainly can't play defense, the skill.  He's never going to be good at defense, the skill no matter how much Defense he has.  And when you combine his hacking with his lack of defense, the skill, you have a player that isn't worth the time invested in his batting abilities.  Considering how much the Royals have wasted on their gut feeling already, what's another hundred hours of your batting coaches' work hours, really?  Kevin Seitzer's just working his way on up.

Hitter of the game:  Mark Teahen/Mike Jacobs

Pitcher of the game:  Brian Bannister

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