That was a tidy ballgame. You don’t often see 6-3 games clock in under 2:15 like Tuesday’s. I hate to go all Denny Mathews on you, but I do enjoy the quick ballgame. Credit to both starters who kept the game moving at a great pace.
Whenever I watch Brian Bannister pitch, I’m looking for groundballs. Last night, he got a ton. Eleven of his 16 outs came via the ground ball.
The runs he gave up in the second were soft. I mean, they came on batted balls that weren’t struck especially hard. Soft or not, they were line drives and those tend to fall for hits. What was really frustrating about that inning was it came immediately after the Royals jumped ahead. Is it just me, or does it seem like Bannister gives back his runs almost immediately? I don’t have any numbers or stats to back this up, but it sure feels like everytime I watch him pitch and his bats give him a lead, Bannister immediately goes out and coughs it up.
He tried to give it back in the sixth inning (immediately after the Royals scored four runs in the fifth) when Macier Izturis led off with a home run. Seriously? Then Torii Hunter laced a single to right and Hideki Matsui launched a bomb that just missed tying the game by inches.
Time for the Good Tejeda-Wood-Soria Triumverate to bare it’s fangs once again. This time, they retired 11 in a row.
Good Robinson Tejeda was simply electric. When he uncorked his first pitch that was about helmet high, I worried that he wouldn’t be on his game. Ha. Once he got rolling, the Angels were helpless. He couldn’t get his slider over for a strike and the Angel hitters weren’t biting, so he just brought the gas. Hey, whatever works.
Brought in with runners on second and third and one out, to get out of that fix without allowing a run… That’s a save in my book. A shallow fly and a strikeout got the job done.
Then Blake Wood… He threw his first nine pitches for strikes and only tosses his first ball after he jumed ahead of Torii Hunter 0-2 with two outs. He’s still pitching to contact I suppose – his strikeout of Hunter was only his second this year and he’s faced 35 batters – but he’s jumping ahead. He’s thrown a first pitch strike in over 70% of all plate appearances. Major league average is 58%. Nice. If you’re going to let hitters get the bat on the ball, you may as well tilt the battle to your advantage as much as possible.
Finally Joakim Soria. The 68 mph curveball he broke off to punchout Juan Rivera following a pair of 93 mph cutters was pure poetry. I don’t think I’ve seen that pitch from him this year. Then poor Mike Napoli couldn’t even get the bat off his shoulders, looking at five pitches and striking out to end the game.
Yost’s bullpen plan has mostly been letter perfect. If Hillman had been so insightful (or fortunate) he’d probably still be employed.
Scott Podsednik hit leadoff for the 20th time last night. Entering the game, he was hitting .286/.349/.351 at the top of the order, which isn’t horrible, but his sOPS+ of 89 indicates his performance there is below average. You probably already knew that.
Last night he saw a grand total of seven pitches in his four plate appearances. Seven pitches! I really wish the Royals had someone else who could bat at the top of the order.
I suppose I’d prefer DeJesus at the top of the order, but Yost seems to have hit on something by dropping him to the third spot where he’s caught fire and hit .361/.451/.443 in the 16 games since he’s made the move. Obviously, you’d like more power out of your number three, but I’m not going to be so picky.
In his short tenure, Yost has largely been golden.
I joked on Twitter before the game that the order that featured Betancourt, Getz, Podsednik and Kendall hitting eight through second could be called the Gauntlet Of Suck. Ha. All four hitters came through big… Kendall hit a double in the first that was probably the hardest ball he struck all year and scored the game’s first run. Then Betancourt opened the fifth with a triple to left, scored on a Getz single and Podsednik kept the rally rolling as the Royals broke the game open with a four spot.
So maybe Gauntlet Of Suck was a bit harsh. I dunno. If you stack those four in a lineup 10 times, they’ll have a game like this maybe once. Like I said… Golden Yost.