Lorenzo Cain went yard with authority last night to give the Royals a second straight win. Four home runs in two games? What the hell is going on here?
While the home runs are a pleasant early surprise, there are pleasantly no surprises when it comes to the bullpen. Four innings last night, two hits, no runs, no walks and five strikeouts. Jason Frasor did allow an inherited runner to score, but walking into a first and third/no out situation and allowing just the one run to score is really about all you can hope for. He’s not Wade Davis, after all.
In addition to a big three run homer by Eric Hosmer to erase an early 3-1 deficit and, of course, Cain’s absolute rocket shot in the bottom of the eighth to put the Royals ahead, finally for good, Kansas City drummed out 12 other hits and even sprinkled in a couple of Alex Gordon walks to pretty much litter the bases with baserunners all night. Neither starting pitcher had a stellar night and the Duffy/Perez combination seemed to outthink themselves on at least a couple of occasions when it came to pitch selection: notably the Flowers home run on a changeup.
The preceding, however, is only criticism I have for Salvador Perez from last night. All the Royals’ catcher did was rap out two hits, throw out two runners and frame some balls into strikes. Perez has generally not had a good reputation for framing pitches. In my mind, there is plenty of background noise when it comes to pitch framing metrics, but the statistical consensus (and, yes, the eye test) indicate that Salvy has not been particularly good in that area of the game. Last night, I thought he brought several pitches smoothly into Hunter Wendelstedt’s strike zone.
Have a look at Brooks’ Baseballs strike zone plots from last night:
Red squares are called strikes when the Royals are pitching, while red triangles are called strikes for the Sox pitchers.
These plots are from the umpire’s point of view and confirm what I thought I was seeing last night: that Perez and the Kansas City pitchers were getting most of the borderline strike calls. Particularly those calls on the left edge (Wendelstedt’s left) of the zone and more calls then Flowers and the Chicago pitchers were getting. One game, one umpire, one night out of 162, but an encouraging sign.
Mostly because the graphs, plots and information at Brooks’ is so fun, we’ll end with one last plot regarding Danny Duffy last night:
Danny’s velocity was way up at the start of the game, touching 98 once and lingering at 97 mph, but declined with each inning. Perhaps, as has been an issue in the past, Duffy was just a little too amped and paid the price as the game went on. It was not horrible outing, as there were at-bats where Duffy was simply overpowering, but certainly not a performance anyone wants to see on a consistent basis. Like Perez’ pitch framing, watching Duffy’s early (and late) velocity will be interesting in the coming weeks.
Today, a businessman’s special with Edinson Volquez making his Royal debut. I’m curious to see what Ned Yost does with the bullpen this early in the season. Will he pitch Davis and Herrera for the third time in four days or back off that pace? I would be tempted to avoid using either, simply because it is – not sure if you’ve heard this yet – a long, long season.
It’s just two games, but damn it is nice to win them isn’t it?