Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Damn, Missed Again!

Another one run loss. But there are many more positives to take from Tuesday’s game. And for those of you who want to fire the manager, there’s even some room for second guessing.

• It looked like another typical first inning for the Royals didn’t it. One run in, sacks full, Lima-Time on the mound talking to himself. Only this time, it wasn’t when Lima struck out Matt LeCroy to end the inning.

• Although Lima got out of the inning only allowing one run, it continued a trend of Royals starters putting the team in the hole early.

• After the first, Lima was outstanding. At one point he retired 21 of 23 batters. From the first inning, until there were two outs in the eighth, the only Twins to reach base were Jacque Jones with a double in the fourth and a two out walk to Torii Hunter in the sixth. We saw Game 3 of the NLDS Lima. Not Opening Day Lima. Just a great performance.

• The Royals were able to scrape their run across in the fifth. An infield single by Terrence Long, a ground out followed by a single by recent call-up Matt Diaz and the Royals had the game tied.

I’m going to halt the bullet points for a second, because I’d really like your attention. I need to talk about WTP favorite Andy Sisco:

• It’s clear he’s the top reliever out of the pen. Tuesday, Sisco enters the game with two outs and the bases chock full of Twins facing Hunter. Hunter never had a chance and went down swinging on 97mph heat. How long has it been since the Royals have had someone who could throw in the upper 90s and actually get it over the plate?

• It has to be a combination of the speed of the pitches and his height/arm length, but the ball seems to explode out of Sisco’s hand. By explode I mean there is no time for the hitter to see the pitch, track the pitch and swing. The time the ball takes to get from his left hand to the catchers mitt is unbelievably quick. I haven’t seen any players interviewed about Sisco, but I have to believe he is one of the most difficult pitchers to hit against in the big leagues.

• Thank you Chicago Cubs.

Now for opportunity to second guess. After Sisco retired Jones leading off the ninth, Tony went to the pen for Ambiorx Burgos. Burgos gave up a single, walk, fielders choice (with an error), single and the Twins took the lead. The second guessers will wonder why Tony removed Sisco. After all, he is our best pitcher out of the pen. The game is tied and he had already gotten two difficult outs. Here’s why I can’t fault Tony for this move:

• He is going to rely on Sisco more and more throughout the season. He struggled a bit a few days ago when he was asked to pitch on back to back days for the first time this season. By needing only eight pitches to get two critical outs, he’s going to be fresh Wednesday if the Royals need him. And they probably will.

• LeCroy was the batter when Burgos entered. LeCroy is about 50 points worse against rightys. Plus, he always has had a hard time against hard throwing right handers. Burgos, like Sisco, was bringing it 95-98 mph.

• Yes, the Royals took the loss and the box score will show that Burgos struggled, allowing two hits and two walks. The walks are something he will need to work on, that’s for sure. But the hits by LeCroy and Lew Ford were dinks. Pitches in on the fists that they were able to fight off for hits just over the infield.

The Royals have now lost six in a row and five of the six have been winnable. Call me crazy, but this one felt different. Two pitchers throwing darts, a lack of mental mistakes and a timely base hit or two. There’s no shame in a young team going against the reigning Cy Young award winner, keeping it close and coming up just short.

Not bad. Not bad at all.


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