Well, last night was the first time the Royals scored seven runs or more in a game and lost. Given Monday night was Kansas City’s 91st game of the year, that’s not bad. You would like to think that it would never happen, but it does. Even to good teams with great bullpens.
The Royals, after an early first inning lead, were in a hole all night courtesy of starting pitcher Yordano Ventura. A weird night for Ventura who needed 92 pitches to get through four innings (plus one batter) and gave up 10 hits. Yet, he also struck out seven and walked only one. The velocity was back and Ventura was throwing strikes (maybe too many strikes?), but the results were – being kind – mixed.
If Ventura had been enjoying the type of season we were all hoping for this year, I might just chalk this up to ‘one of those nights’. Given Yordano’s odd season to date, you wonder if this is not just ‘one of those nights’, but going to be ‘one of those years’. One untrained thought might be that Ventura, whose fastball velocity was dancing just under 100 mph most of the night, is throwing too hard and, as has a tendency to happen, too straight. That is untrained eyes and ten minutes of thought (interrupted by a yogurt and coffee) and could be totally off base. Here is Ventura’s strike zone plot from last night:
You have swinging strikes right next to balls in play (no outs) in the middle of the zone. You also have a good number of swinging strikes out of the zone, which to me indicates that Ventura has some stuff going last night and might well invalidate my observation two sentences before. I don’t know, boys and girls, just one of those nights?
As the Royals tried to comeback, as this team seemingly always does, we also got a look at Kris Medlen. If you did not catch the game last night, you awoke to a box score that made you grimace, but Medlen really did pitch better than his line indicates.
Medlen entered with a runner on second and no one out, struck out two batters, then gave up a home run to Kang. I refer to him only as Kang, because I think it sounds cool. I’m not sure I realized this before, but if there is a team that is as much fun as the Royals are, it might well be the Pirates. I digress, however.
A groundout and two more strikeouts by Medlen comprised the next inning and that was followed by a lead-off single that eventually came around to score via a stolen base, fly ball and ground ball. To be fair, Ned Yost has done a very good job of managing his pitchers this year, but I thought going to Medlen for a fourth inning was probably wrong. Kris left with two on and just one out and then had his line lit up thanks to a Luke Hochevar allowed triple to the next batter.
All in all, I was encouraged by Medlen’s outing, but you do wonder if it was him tiring in that fourth inning or the Pirates’ hitters having a better idea seeing him the second time around? That is something worth monitoring the next few outings if, like myself, you have this hope of Medlen being a consistent STARTING pitcher yet this season for Kansas City.
We can probably forgive Luke Hochevar as well, who gave up three hits in just under two innings of work. Those were the first hits Luke has allowed in nine innings, spanning nine outings and going back to June 23rd.
Like I said, one of those nights.