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Article: KC 5, MIN 4: What Even Is A Swing, Anyway?

paul molitor ervin santana byron buxton eduardo escobar alan busenitz
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 05:28 PM

The Twins ended up on the short end of a back-and-forth affair Sunday at Target Field, losing the game 5-4 and their series against the Royals two games to one. A controversial check swing call on Lorenzo Cain resulted in Paul Molitor getting ejected and allowed Cain to deliver the go-ahead hit later in the at- bat.Snapshot (chart via Fangraphs)
Download attachment: Snapshot93.png
I took a quick look through the MLB official rule book, and guess what? There doesn’t appear to be an actual definition of a swing or check swing in there. How crazy is that? It’s basically all up to the individual umpires to determine what is an attempt to strike the ball.

Does that simply mean their bat passes the front of the plate? Is it when the barrel of the bat carries past the body of the batter? All depends on who you ask, I guess. Here’s a great screenshot Ted Schwerzler shared, you be the judge.

Molitor certainly thought that was a swing attempt. He took issue with the call and was asked to hit the showers early, or whatever managers do after the game.

That was a massive call, as instead of being strike three it gave Cain new life. He crushed a go-ahead two-run triple, and was actually thrown out at home trying to get an inside-the-parker. That was in the top of the seventh inning, so the Twins had opportunities to make up for that call but fell short.

After a game on Saturday in which the scoring more closely resembled a football game (the Twins won 17-0), this one was more like a ping-pong match. The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, but the Twins got two in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead. The Royals responded with two runs of their own in the top of the sixth, but the Twins charged right back with a pair of runs of their own to make it 4-3 heading into that decisive top of the seventh in which Kansas City took hold of the lead for good.

Ervin Santana went 6.2 innings and had four earned runs. Alan Busenitz gave up that huge triple, he gave up an earned run over 0.1 innings. He had gone nine-straight appearances without giving up a run.

Eduardo Escobar, who hit two homers on Saturday, blasted his 15th of the season, a two-run shot. Byron Buxton was 2-for-2 with his fifth triple of the year and a walk.

Standings
The Yankees will be playing the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball (imagine that), so the Twins are currently 1.5 games back of New York for the top wild card. The Angels lost and Baltimore won Sunday, so those two clubs both trail the Twins by 1.5 games for the second wild card.

Postgame With Molitor

Bullpen Usage
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Download attachment: Bullpen93.png
Looking Ahead
Mon: Twins (Jose Berrios) at Rays (Alex Cobb), 6:10 pm CT
Tue: Twins (Bartolo Colon) at Rays (Jake Odorizzi), 6:10 pm CT
Wed: Twins (Aaron Slegers) at Rays (Blake Snell), 12:10 pm CT

Looking Back
MIN 17, KC 0: What Negative Run Differential?
KC 7, MIN 6: Oh, So Close
MIN 5, CHW 4: Twins Win on Walk-Off HBP

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#2 Darius

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 06:20 PM

They've given away too many games like this. It will cost them.

When are they going to get human error of this and actually let the best players win? I've seen the Twins get jobbed on so many calls this year. Clearly a swing, and a bad call decided the game. Just let a damn computer make all the calls. There is bob"game integrity" in the terrible biases games that these umps call.

#3 Winston Smith

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 06:31 PM

Nothing in the rule book about the bat crossing the front of the plate. Problem is a lot of people think there is. Correct, it is up to the umpire to decide if he "swung" or not.

 

It's like a lot of calls in sports the judgement of the official. Offensive holding, pass interference, most BB fouls, most hockey penalties, judgement calls.

If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.

 

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#4 Rhino and Compass

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 06:36 PM

Right or wrong, complaining about umps/referees/officials is the most boring conversation in sports. Glad there is a game to move on to tomorrow

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#5 Rosterman

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 06:37 PM

Three things:

 

Line-up construction.

 

Trust your bullpen. Santana was at 96 pitches before the 7th. Did he have to come out and pitch the 7th?

 

What the Twins need is a bench. Someone to pinch-hit for Garver with 1st and 3rd and two-outs. Good experience for Garver, but what wouldn't give for a Thome or Baylor or even a Phil Nevin at times.

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#6 mikelink45

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 06:56 PM

What a fun and frustrating game.  I have faith that this team can rise above the controversy.

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#7 yarnivek1972

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 06:58 PM

Three things:

Line-up construction.

Trust your bullpen. Santana was at 96 pitches before the 7th. Did he have to come out and pitch the 7th?

What the Twins need is a bench. Someone to pinch-hit for Garver with 1st and 3rd and two-outs. Good experience for Garver, but what wouldn't give for a Thome or Baylor or even a Phil Nevin at times.


Garver was the guy selected to be the pinch hitter, 1st and 3rd two outs. Not sure I would have taken Kepler out, but Garver was probably the best chance for a hit there. Therein lies the issue of a poor bench.

I was surprised Erv started the 7th as well. I expected match up relievers the rest of the way. Ervin is "your guy" but he also just coughed up a lead the previous inning. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

#8 drjim

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 07:37 PM

Three things:

Line-up construction.

Trust your bullpen. Santana was at 96 pitches before the 7th. Did he have to come out and pitch the 7th?

What the Twins need is a bench. Someone to pinch-hit for Garver with 1st and 3rd and two-outs. Good experience for Garver, but what wouldn't give for a Thome or Baylor or even a Phil Nevin at times.


What's wrong with the lineup construction?
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#9 h2oface

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 08:38 PM

Only 5 hits today. Couple that with 3 errors given to us, and 3 BB, and there you go. Hey..... we had a 15 run differential for the series. Sure wish that had made for more than on victory. Who wants the Wild Card. Big games coming up! Yankees crushing the Red Sox. Time to come of age!


#10 sftwinsfan

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 08:42 PM

Kind of sad to me that your AAA utility player is your starting DH in an important game in September and your idea of a pinch hitter is throwing out Adrianza.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Vargas.  


#11 OldTimeTwinkie

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 09:45 PM

Lineup construction? Your designated hitter is batting 9th and just got called up from the minors batting .260. Are we serious about trying to get in the playoffs or what.

#12 howeda7

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 09:46 PM

Terrible call. That aside, how do you allow Giminez to bat in the 9th (or the 7th for that matter)? You could easily have put Garver at catcher after the 7th since you inserted Granite anyway. Or you could have simply used Castro in the 10th if needed. Inexcusable. That's aside from the fact that you went with 8-9 hitters who had basically no prayer all day. 

Edited by howeda7, 03 September 2017 - 09:47 PM.

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#13 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 06:26 AM

Who was pulling the strings after Molitor's ejection?

 

If they wanted to bunt Esco to third, they should bat Adrianza for Gimenez and do that. 

 

Then hit Garver for Goodrum with a runner on third.

 

Gotta get that guy in from second with no one out in the ninth.


#14 bighat

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 06:38 AM

 

Three things:

 

Line-up construction.

 

Trust your bullpen. Santana was at 96 pitches before the 7th. Did he have to come out and pitch the 7th?

 

What the Twins need is a bench. Someone to pinch-hit for Garver with 1st and 3rd and two-outs. Good experience for Garver, but what wouldn't give for a Thome or Baylor or even a Phil Nevin at times.

 

Sano needs to get back ASAP.  He'd help that situation in a heartbeat, allowing a guy like Vargas or Escobar or whomever to be available to PH. Alas, Sano  won't be back for at least another week. BIG SERIES in Tampa and another BIG SERIES in KC. Gonna be a make-or-break week. 


#15 drjim

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 08:16 AM

Who was pulling the strings after Molitor's ejection?

If they wanted to bunt Esco to third, they should bat Adrianza for Gimenez and do that.

Then hit Garver for Goodrum with a runner on third.

Gotta get that guy in from second with no one out in the ninth.


Garver was already used.
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#16 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 08:17 AM

Lots of good observations here. Although it didn't have an impact on the outcome, but what got lost in yesterday's game is Rosario's steal of third on his own, in the 8th inning. That was about as high-leverage a situation to do that as possible; in other words, very risky. I blogged about Rosario stealing third on his own last year when he was in that terrible slump. By the way, Rosario trotted into third base yesterday without a throw, but Garver lined out to center to end the inning.
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#17 drjim

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 08:17 AM

Lineup construction? Your designated hitter is batting 9th and just got called up from the minors batting .260. Are we serious about trying to get in the playoffs or what.


Giving a guy just called up one start seems a reasonable thing to do.
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#18 drjim

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 08:24 AM

Kind of sad to me that your AAA utility player is your starting DH in an important game in September and your idea of a pinch hitter is throwing out Adrianza. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Vargas.


I was surpsied that Vargas wasn't used therrle, I wonder if it had something to do with Vargas and velocity.

The one other quibble I had, was after Garver pinch hit, they should have kept him in to catch and had Granite replace Gimenez.
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#19 stringer bell

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 08:28 AM

The swing-no swing controversy is interesting. Foster let the first base ump make that call and I think he should have. The home plate ump is behind the hitter and doesn't have a good view of how much the hitter commits to a swing (disagree with LaTroy on this). For what it's worth, I think the first base ump missed it. Cain "swung" and got away with it. Molitor couldn't challenge the first base ump directly so he yelled at Foster and got booted.

 

I was surprised Goodrum got the start at DH. Not to alibi for the Twins, but they expect both Grossman and Castro back within the week. With no real call-up options to be a "bat off the bench" and only a short-term void they tried to roll the dice with a limited bench for the Royals series. It hurt them yesterday.


#20 stringer bell

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 08:33 AM

 

 

Lots of good observations here. Although it didn't have an impact on the outcome, but what got lost in yesterday's game is Rosario's steal of third on his own, in the 8th inning. That was about as high-leverage a situation to do that as possible; in other words, very risky. I blogged about Rosario stealing third on his own last year when he was in that terrible slump. By the way, Rosario trotted into third base yesterday without a throw, but Garver lined out to center to end the inning.

It's a good play if he is 100% sure he can make and he was. It would force the Royals to hold Buxton at first and give Garver a bigger right field hole and he has already shot a few balls that way. Also, of course, a wild pitch or infield single scores the tying run. Finally, it wasn't the ninth inning so that changes the calculations a bit.

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