May 21st, 2006

Notes from Sunday

I know I’ve mentioned it often, including in my game story today, but Robertson’s ability to get out of trouble and strand runners on base is a remarkable difference from last year. His slider to strike out Dunn to end the fourth with the bases loaded was a nasty pitch, especially for a 3-2 pitch he had to make. His velocity was again up into the low 90s, and I think even a couple miles per hour makes a big difference for him compared to when he was in the upper 80s last year. He’s sounding like a more confident pitcher with each outing, and he’s pitching like someone who knows what to do in each situation as long as he can execute.

Other items from Sunday:

  • Why Polanco pinch-hitting instead of Pudge in the eighth? Leyland wanted a hitter who would put the ball in play and move it to the right side. As I wrote in my notes Saturday, Polanco makes more contact with his swings than anybody in baseball this year. Polanco doesn’t pinch-hit often — he did it just five times last year and hadn’t done it at all this year, but he starts so many games he doesn’t have much of a chance to. And for a former NL manager, Leyland hasn’t pinch-hit very much this year.
  • Leyland had some interesting views on Brandon Inge when asked about his throw to the plate Sunday. "He’s getting better all the time," Leyland said. "When he maintains his concentration throughout nine innings, he plays a helluva third base. I think he has a tendency that — not intentionally, but for whatever reason — once in a while he drifts, and that’s when he gets burned. He has a chance to be a helluva third baseman."
  • Dmitri Young said after the game he’ll be traveling to Kansas City Monday. He’s expected to be arraigned in Birmingham earlier in the day on his domestic violence charge. The Royals start a lefty Monday in Jeremy Affeldt, against whom Young is 4-for-13 with six strikeouts for his career. The way Young is swinging right now, though, puts the relevance of past numbers in question. So here’s a question: Do you use these four games against the Royals to run Young out there to try to get his timing back, or do you send him back to the batting cages for more work?

I’m off of the Kansas City series, so I’m not sure what I’ll have until next weekend.