Thursday, September 17, 2009

My last (?) Dome game

Tragic number: 13. Can't count on the Royals beating Detroit every game.

My wife and I went Wednesday to what we expect will be our final game at the Metrodome (photo, right, by Linda Vanderwerf). While the journey itself will, for reasons irrelevant to the blog, likely be more memorable than the game itself, a few observations:

* More examples of how difficult it is to capture defense in the stats. Cleveland's Aaron Laffey — a pitcher I really like — was victimized repeatedly by the apparent decision by his teammates that cutoff plays are overrated. A Twin heads to third, the throw has no chances of getting him, the throw goes through, and the batter takes second base. Some variation on this play happened three times Wednesday, and it would have been four if Jason Kubel could run — and the Twins turned those extra bases into three runs.

Then there's Jose Morales's second double of the game — or, as I would have scored it, single and error on Shin-Soo Choo. Next guy (Matt Tolbert) hits an grounder to first, Morales goes to third, later scores. If Morales is held to a single, maybe the Indians can keep him out of scoring position.

These things matter to Laffey. Well, they matter to all pitchers, but they particularly matter to a Tommy-John-in-training. He's going to give up hits. He needs his defense to keep the double play in order, and they didn't do that Wednesday. So he gets saddled with six earned runs — but if the defense had been sharper, it's three or so.

Not to oversell Laffey's performance. He did give up 12 hits and three walks, and he didn't strike out anybody. He's been better.

* It sure seems as if they've had more problems with the Dome's dirt since the football season started and the Dome has to do double duty. At least twice now the grounds crew has had to come out for mid-game mound reconstruction, and on Wednesday Michael Cuddyer twice spent pitching changes over at the mound cleaning mud out of his spikes.

Mud. In the Dome. Strange.

* Jose Morales can hit. (Two doubles and a sac fly, a run and an RBI in four plate appearances.)

* Carlos Gomez can run. (Scored from first on a double by Cuddyer — who took third on the throw home. See above.)

* The bullpen made me nervous. Jose Mijares, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Joe Nathan combined to throw 67 pitches to get eight outs. Only 36 of those pitches were strikes.

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