The curious timing of that KC pinch runner.

It feels like the tides are turning again in the AL Central. The Royals have dropped the first two games of a three-game series to the Tigers and these two teams are once again tied for first place.

Last night’s game had to be a tough one to watch for Royals€™ fans, especially considering a questionable decision by Ned Yost. To the 9th inning we go, with the Tigers leading 4-2 and embattled closer Joe Nathan on the mound …

  • Nori Aoki singles.
  • Omar Infante singles, Aoki stops at second base. Terrance Core pinch runs for Infante at first base.
  • Alex Gordon strikes out, after being up in the count 2-0, on a good slider from Nathan.
  • Salvador Perez is down in the count 0-1.
  • Jarrod Dyson pinch runs for Aoki at second base.

I’m sorry, what was that? Now a pinch runner is brought in for Aoki? Not when he first got to second base, or before Perez came to the plate? But now, when Perez is down 0-1?

I wasn’t operating the Comerica Park scoreboard last night. But if I were, I would have proudly put up the following message on the big screen:

LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, PLEASE DIRECT YOUR ATTENTION TO SECOND BASE WHERE JARROD DYSON WILL NOW ATTEMPT TO BE THE LEAD RUNNER ON A DOUBLE STEAL.

Brad Ausmus might be a rookie manager, but Brad Ausmus is no rookie when it comes to managing a major league baseball game. He did it for 18 seasons as a defense-first catcher. Back to the action:

  • Joe Nathan shows an inside move to second base, no throw.
  • Joe Nathan comes set, varies his looks to second and home, trying to get Dyson to break early, he holds, Perez calls time-out.
  • Joe Nathan comes set again, another inside move. Again Nathan wasn’€™t going to throw, but this time Dyson is caught leaning, stumbles trying to get back to second base, and is picked off.

Dyson has been good in his career at stealing third base. According to FOX Sports Detroit’€™s color analyst Rod Allen, Dyson was 20 for 22 in his career prior to that pickoff. The timing of the pinch runner is what peaked my interest.

Everyone knows that Dyson is going. Because Dyson was put in to pinch run so late, he never got the opportunity to read Joe Nathan’s delivery and timing to home plate. Dyson has faced Nathan just three times in his career, and reached base just once. There is a good chance Jarrod Dyson has never been on second base with Joe Nathan pitching, and he never saw Nathan deliver one pitch home last night from his second-base view. He was picked off before Perez saw another pitch.

Had Dyson been put in once Aoki reached second base, he would have seen all six pitches Nathan delivered to Alex Gordon. That would have given Dyson a much better read on Nathan’s timing and increased his chances of stealing third base.

Back to the action:

  • Perez strikes out. Game over. Blerg!