You may look at the box score and see that Zack Greinke gave up one run in six innings and think he had a good game. Hmmmm. Certainly, it’s good anytime a starter hold the opposition to one run, but this felt like a battle almost every step of the way.
Three walks against just four strikeouts and Greinke needed every ounce of the 105 pitches he threw in the six innings. Greinke just didn’t have his command. Of the 105 pitches he threw, only 57 of them were strikes. That’s 54%, a percentage is far too low, given our ace starter normally throws a strike 64% of the time.
His fastball showed some life and averaged 94.6 mph, which is above his seasonal fastball average of 93.2 mph. That’s a relief. (Although I remain skeptical about the Kauffman Stadium radar gun. Seems like it still runs a little hot.) While the velocity was there, the swing and misses were… Missing. He threw 61 fastballs and got only four swing and misses.
Of course, we all know the slider is his out pitch, but the Indians showed patience in not offering. Of the 23 sliders Greinke threw on Tuesday, only 11 were strikes.
It was just a grind last night. One of those games where I was on the edge of my seat because I was just waiting for Greinke to give up a string of hits and basically throw in the towel. Fortunately, his defense bailed him out more than once. That’s something you don’t hear everyday.
So Zack is still scuffling. He pitched a great game in his previous start in Los Angeles, but couldn’t really find the rhythm or his comfort zone last night. That’s kind of been the story of his season. We’re all waiting for that “eureka” moment, but I’m not sure we’re going to get that. Instead, we may have to settle for inconsistency.
That’s a bummer. I want the 2009 version of Greinke back. On a consistent basis.
— I can’t possibly be the only person who, when watching Kila rip a couple of fastballs to right, thinks, “Slider bat speed, my ass.” The guy can flat turn on a pitch. I have absolutely no idea where the myth developed that he doesn’t possess the bat speed to handle a fastball. Looked fine to me last night.
— Speaking of Kila, he turned in a pair of nice defensive plays at first last night. And both came in key situations. The first was with two down in the second with a run already in and two runners on base. Jason Donald hit a weak grounder to third and Wilson Betemit had to rush his throw. Kila made a nice stretch to get the out. That was a fine play, but the one that really stood out was in the ninth. Asdrubal Cabrera hits a grounder to the hole between short and third. Yuniesky Betancourt ranges to his right and makes a strong throw, but Kila really saved the day with another excellent stretch. Billy Butler is much improved defensively at first, but I’m not sure he makes that play in the ninth.
— Maybe the opposition will begin to respect Kila. An intentional walk to Butler in the fifth? This really is a rivalry.
— Betemit put a charge in his home run, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone crush a pitch this year like Jim Thome did last night in Minnesota.
— It makes me incredibly sad that Yuniesky Betancourt is second on this team with 11 home runs. This sudden burst of power is the only thing keeping his OPS+ hovering around the 90 point mark. Ugh.
— The Royals bullpen will provide antacid moments for the rest of the season. Guaranteed. No clue what Jesse Chavez was doing in the seventh. And Blake Wood in the eighth only works because the Indians are a woeful offensive team.
— Did the Indians have a legitimate beef at the end of the game regarding Kerwin Danley’s strike zone? Perhaps. However, Danley was calling the high outside strike all night – that was the pitch that sent Shin-Soo Choo packing in the ninth for the second out. The cutter Soria delivered a couple pitches prior was in almost the exact same location and it was called a strike. Having said that, it would appear Travis Hafner has a legit reason to complain. That final strike was way off the plate. Here’s Danley’s called pitches for the night. The final pitch of the game is easily identifiable: It’s the red square way off the plate.
The battle for fourth place rolls on…