Three feet more towards the middle, or hit a little harder or even not quite as hard, or if the ball had bounced a little more or not as much: any of those things and Chris Getz would not have been a hero on Wednesday afternoon. The game winning single was, after all, an infield hit into the hole at shortstop and let’s not kid ourselves, a left side of Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta is not exactly hitting into the teeth of an imposing pair of defenders.
Still, as we wake up Thursday morning, a hit is a hit and Chris Getz earned all the luck he got when he drove in Mike Moustakas with two outs in the top of the ninth. That was after Aaron Crow surrendered a two run homer, not to Cabrera or Prince Fielder or even Alex Avila, but instead to Brennan Boesch in the bottom of the eighth, allowing the Tigers to tie the game. It was after the Royals left a runner on third base twice earlier in the game. After they watched Alcides Escobar get thrown out attempting to steal and after they ended three other innings with a runner on second.
If you weren’t feeling impending doom entering the ninth inning yesterday, then you have not been a Royals’ fan very long.
So, here we are, top of the ninth with the game tied. Mike Moustakas has rapped a one out double (with two strikes mind you) and moved to third on a Brayan Pena ground out. Up strides Chris Getz. Now, if you have been reading this site for any amount of time, you know that none of us who write here are particularly fond of Getz. He is an average defender, a supposed on-base guy who doesn’t really walk that much and last year managed NINE whole extra base hits in 429 plate appearances.
All that doesn’t matter right now. Today, we should all be fans of Chris Getz…if only for a day.
On a team that has an at least perceived penchant for taking called third strikes in big late game situations (see the Twitter uproar regarding Alex Gordon a few weeks back), Chris Getz did not allow the umpire to decide his plate appearance. Not with the go ahead run on third and not on a day when the team as a whole had a miserable time driving in runners who were ‘right there, 90 freaking feet away’. Of course, Justin Verlander was on the mound for 8 innings and he is a legitimate superfreak.
Coming into the contest, Joaquin Benoit had struck out 16 batters in 9 innings of work. He had not been particularly sharp, allowing 12 hits and 9 walks, this year, but he was still making guys swing and miss. Outside of his ability to steal a base, it is possible that Getz’s best baseball attribute is the fact that he does not swing and miss much. Still, you might well run down a pretty long list of names on the Royals’ roster that you want up in this situation before you get to Chris.
Pitch number one is a 91 mph four seamer right down the middle that Getz fouls off.
Pitch two is an 80 mph changeup down in the zone that Chris gets just a piece of. No balls, two strikes and it is not looking good.
Number three is also a changeup, down and in. It is a ball, but Getz swings and fouls it off. Now, in hindsight, Chris should have laid off this pitch, but Benoit was throwing that change with a lot of movement and, for his part, Getz was not going to get caught looking.
In comes pitch number four. It is a 95 mph fastball right at the top of the zone. Pitch f/x says it is a strike, the umpire might have called it high, but with two strikes in the ninth you cannot take that chance. Getz gets a piece of it and fouls off his fourth straight pitch.
Pitch number five is a 76 mph changeup, down the middle, but up in Getz’s eyes. Another foul ball. Here, probably, Getz should have taken, but you know that ball looked huge waffling in there slow and high. Eric Hosmer might well have hit that 481 feet, Getz fouls it off. We can’t all be poster boys.
Number six is a 95 mph four seamer down and away. Benoit has been wild this year, but you have to think that was a chase pitch. That’s good strategy in that you have a batter obviously hacking and maybe you get him to flail at this unhittable ball. Getz, for the first time in the plate appearance, keeps the bat on his shoulder. One ball, two strikes.
Benoit’s seventh offering is an 85 mph changeup dropping down out of the strike zone. Getz stays with it for another foul ball. With that pitch, you can take it and hope it does move out of the zone or you can foul it off.
Number eight is a 94 mph fastball, low in the strike zone. Getz hits it into the hole and runs….fast. While Peralta fields the ball cleanly, he has not shot at getting Getz at first. The run scores and the Royals are on their way to a win and a winning road trip.
As I said at the beginning, it was just an infield single, but it was hard earned infield single. An inch here or there on the bat and Getz is not a hero, but what Chris Getz did do was give himself a chance. Good at-bats don’t always result in line drives, but ground balls sometimes end up in the right spot.
Chris Getz had a good at-bat at a great time and fortune smiled on him and the Royals. For at least one day, Chris Getz is alright in my book.