It’s not often a player can play goat and hero in the same game, but Scott Podsednik did just that on Thursday.
Podsednik misplayed a Hunter Pence drive to left in the first inning that led to two runs. I’d have ruled it an error, myself, but that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.
The misplay tarnished what was otherwise a fine start by Anthony Lerew, newly recalled from Omaha to fill in for the injured Luke Hochevar. Lerew matched his career high for strikeouts, fanning seven Astros over six innings. As Ned Yost would say, Lerew was “bangin’ strikes” – 65 of his 94 pitches went for a strike, and he started with an 0-1 count to 19 of 23 batters. He wasn’t quite to Greinke levels, but he stayed aggressive against the Astros, who only managed three hits and two walks off of him.
Brett Myers, through the first six innings, was just as strong, limiting the Royals to three hits and one walk over that span.
The seventh inning didn’t work out that well for him, however. After retiring the first two batters, Myers gave up three straight singles to Mike Aviles, Wilson Betemit and Yuniesky Betancourt which put the Royals on the board for the first time all night. Then, atoning for his earlier outfield miscue, Scott Podsednik drilled a pitch into the Kansas City bullpen to put the Royals up 4-2. The Royals added another run in the eighth.
Victor Marte got the win, but Lerew really deserved it. For a guy who’s floated around waiting for the chance to be classified as the dreaded AAAA player, he showed a lot of poise on the mound. Granted, it was against Houston, so he didn’t face the greatest lineup in the league, but he didn’t let them get anywhere either, which has to count for something. If Podsednik makes the play in left in the first inning, Lerew would have come out of the game with a solid shutout performance.
The game also carried a little bit of controversy. In the bottom of the fifth, Mike Aviles led off with a single. Wilson Betemit grounded out and Aviles moved up to second. Yuniesky Betancourt hit a soft liner to shortstop Geoff Blum which skipped on the ground. After an awkward pause, the second base umpire ruled it a catch and Blum walked over to second and the inning appeared over. However the umpires got together and ruled (correctly) that Blum had trapped the ball. But there was fallout to getting that ruling right. First, the incorrect call was delayed which held up Aviles in between second and third. He eventually advanced to third. But secondly, because the umpire had ruled it a catch, Blum didn’t attempt a throw to first to retire Betancourt.
That’s where it gets weird and messy. The final ruling was that Aviles advanced to third, but Betancourt was ruled out on the assumption that Blum would have thrown to first and retired him. Now it’s true that that’s 99% probable as to the final result, and I can’t quite fault the umpiring crew for the ruling – they were in an awkward position after the initial mistake and the judgment seemed the best middle ground for both teams. The double play wouldn’t be fair after they’d admitted it was a blown call. First and third with one out wasn’t right because Blum only reacted to the call on the field as the play developed. The problem most everyone is having is the assumption by the crew of what SHOULD have happened. Blum could have easily misfired on the throw, or could have gone to third base to try to retire Aviles or could have butchered the transfer from glove to throwing hand. There’s probably no precedent ahead as this was a pretty rare situation, but nobody wants to see umpire conferences where they routinely start reversing calls on the field.
In a bigger sense, that’s a reason why I’m not huge on expanding replay in baseball. There’s something to baseball that seems like it doesn’t need it. The home plate umpire calls the strike zone on his interpretation (yes he’s supposed to follow the rulebook’s guidelines) and is also influenced by the momentum of the game (like Tom Glavine nailing the same part of the black on every pitch…then going half a ball further out…and a little further). It’s the human element that’s always been present in the game. I’m no Luddite and I wouldn’t protest and bemoan the fate of the game if replay was expanded, but I think the instances to use it would be so rare it’d either be insignificant, or worse, there would be creative ways to justify using it more than necessary.
At any rate, the Royals won the series and got more solid work out of the bullpen.
David DeJesus went 0-4, ending a streak of three multi-hit games.
Jose Guillen went 1-4, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He has a hit in all but two games in June and in 14 of his last 16 games.
Topics: AL Central, Anthony Lerew, Baseball, Billy Butler, Brett Myers, David DeJesus, Houston Astros, Hunter Pence, Jose Guillen, Kansas City Royals, KC, Mike Aviles, MLB, Ned Yost, Royals, Royals Vs. Astros, Scott Podsednik, Victor Marte, Yuniesky Betancourt