The Royals just couldn’t scuffle along forever. Even with Zack Greinke on the mound, they had to score more than a few runs against Ryan Rowland-Smith… Didn’t they?
(Of course, this is the Royals and we have been taught to expect the unexpected.)
Greinke was in cruise control for the entire game. The Mariners felt it was necessary to squeeze home their run in the third. It was small ball all around as the runner took second on a throwing error by Mike Aviles and moved to third on a ground out before scoring on the bunt. SABR Trey would have been impressed.
I liked everything about Grienke’s performance. He changed speeds, he located his pitches… Everything was working. His slider featured some nice tail and those curves on the outer half of the plate to left handed batters was devastating. And in the seventh inning, when he got into trouble, he kept the ball low against Michael Saunders before punching him out on a slider in the dirt. That pitch was set up by a 1-2 fastball up and out of the zone – the only pitch Saunders saw above his knees in that at bat.
Easy cheese. Love it.
My favorite match-ups were against Russ Branyan. High fastball after high fastball. The guy just had absolutely no chance.
Blake Wood did his best to blow the game with his pitch to contact strategy, but was bailed out by the stupidity of a Seattle fan who interfered with what surely would have been a run-scoring, game tying double off the bat of Branyan. The best part? The guy (possibly) realizes what he’s done and drops the ball back on the field. DeJesus is over there and picks the ball up and gives it back to him with a wave of thanks.
Someone from the Royals should give that fan some tickets for Wednesday’s game. At least give him a save in the box score.
That overshadows the fact Wood really isn’t to be trusted in late inning situations. Yost is going to get burned.
Offensively, it was all about Wilson Betemit. Is this the time the guy finally realizes his potential?
I’m not holding my breath.
For starters, his batting average on balls in play is an insane .394. There’s just no way that’s going to continue which means his batting average is going to fall. It was at .350 entering Tuesday’s game. If the Royals continuing giving him at bats, it’s going to drop below .300 within a month. I’m not knocking the guy… He’s riding a hot streak.
One reason his average (and OBP) will tumble is because he just doesn’t put the ball in play enough. The average major league hitter puts the ball in play 70% of all plate appearances. Betemit is around 64%.
Of course, where he’s excelling these days is bashing the extra base hits. He homered yesterday and over 18% of all his plate appearances have gone for extra bases. That’s sick. In a good way.
My hope is Betemit’s emergence gives the Royals the confidence to deal Jose Guillen. Not that holding on to him could be justified for any reason, it’s common knowledge the Royals are reluctant to let him go because he’s the lone power option (when he’s not evolving into a singles hitter) in this lineup. I know, it’s crazy… But that’s how they operate.
However, if they think Betemit can slide into that role… Maybe we can ship Guillen somewhere. Sure, the return will basically be nothing, but I can live with that. I defended Guillen when he arrived in ’08, didn’t care about him in ’09 and now just want him gone in ’10. I said the other day, he’s a lame duck… The sooner everyone moves on, the better.
Of course, as soon as I write this, Guillen pulls up lame going down to first trying to avoid a double play. You know… plays like that just burn me. I know the guy was hurt, but if he crawled to first, he would have been safe. Crawled. Instead, he just stopped. Oh well… The lame duck just got lamer.
And then the Royals compounded the issue of the inning by getting Betemit thrown out at home for the third out. Eddie Rodriguez doing his best Dave Owen impersonation. How many times this year have the Royals threatened to blow the game wide open, only to make one or two outs on the bases in a single inning? Maddening.
So if Guillen misses the rest of the season (given his *cough* history, we know two things: 1) He’s injury prone, and 2) He is slow to heal.) who gets the call? Do the Royals dare to bring up Kila Ka’ahuie and hand him the DH at bats? That would make too much sense, so I doubt that happens.
We’ll see Rick Ankiel instead. Sigh.