It’s too early to render a verdict, but damn if Chris Young isn’t on the shortlist for best free agent signings heading into 2015. His latest masterpiece was flummoxing the Milwaukee Brewers for seven innings on Tuesday. Just the latest in a year that has taken Young from the sidelines, to the bullpen, to the rotation, and finally, to most reliable starter in the rotation status.
Seven innings. Five hits. No walks. A Game Score of 70.
Young shoved his ERA to sub 2. When he exited the game after those seven innings, his ERA stood at 1.98.
Young was never in danger. The helpless Brewers bunted their way to third in the third inning, but Young worked out of the jam. In the seventh, Aramis Ramirez strolled into second with a one-out double. (Literally, strolled. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone move 180 feet in such an unhurried fashion.) Scooter Gennett followed with a single to left, but Ramirez had to hold at second because there was no way he could challenge Alex Gordon’s arm. That put runners at first and second with one out and a starting pitcher who didn’t have much left in the tank.
Then this happened.
The first, was an 11 pitch Battle-Royal against Jean Segura. So massive, it didn’t fit on the whole Gameday screen cap. Young brought his mid-80s fastball and his high-70s slider and kept it up in the zone. Foul, foul, foul… Segura fouled off seven pitches total until Young broke off a slider up out of the strike zone and Segura could only wave at it.
The second was less of a battle, but just as impressive. Young showed slider the first three pitches to Shane Peterson and all three were down. He then changed the vertical with back to back fastballs, the second of which dove into his hands. Peterson pulled the trigger and came up empty. The victim of 86 mph smoke.
For the night, Young got nine swings and misses out of his 89 pitches. A very average ratio for him given he’s generating a whiff about 9 percent of the time this year. And very nice he saved three of those for his final two batters with a pair of runners on base.
It was vintage Young. He threw 19 first pitch strikes out of the 26 batters he faced. He let the Brewers put the ball in play. The Brewers obliged by hitting balls in the air. Twelve of the 18 balls in play were in the air. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Young was running short on luck. Yeah. His start Tuesday followed his blueprint to the very last out. Young is more Rodrock than Frank Lloyd Wright, but who cares? The walls are still standing for now, so let’s get comfortable.
The way I’m carrying on about the brilliance of Young would make you think the game was close. Heh. This was another one where it was never in doubt. Three hits to open the game, punctuated by Lorenzo Cain’s second bomb in as many days and the Royals were rolling. Every Royals starter had at least one hit. Mike Moustakas and would-be All-Star Omar Infante each had a trio. Moustakas attend a home run he blistered to the pull field.
Even Young got in the action with a pair of hits and driving in three runs. Seriously. Young became the first Royals pitcher to drive in three since Steve Busby in 1972. He also saw just five pitches in his three plate appearances. Naked aggression with the lumber. Young is already Forever Royal.
The Royals close a road trip bookended by sweeps. They took three in Minnesota and the pair in Milwaukee. Sandwiched in there were the two losses to the federally investigated St. Louis Cardinals. A week and a half ago if I had told you the Royals would go 5-2 on this road trip, you would have been overjoyed. You may be overjoyed right now. You should be. This is exactly how the remainder of the season should play out. The Royals clobbered the slumping pretender, stomped all over one of the worst teams in the game and battled to a couple of close loses to The Hackers, who have the best record in baseball, if not the best IT department.
A brief five game homestand is on the docket as the Brewers follow the Royals to KC before the Royals host the Red Sox for three. Five more games against teams ripe for the stomping. This is baseball, so things may not go according to plan, but even if the Royals stumble to close out the week, it’s not the end of the season. At 36-25, the Royals have the best winning percentage in the AL and own a three and a half game over the fading Twins and a four game lead over the third place Tigers.
As long as Young is shoving his fastball/slider combo in the Royals rotation like he did on Tuesday, things may just turn out OK.