The Bullpen Saves The Day
Starter Runelvys Hernandez is like that kid flicking matches at the gasoline can. He was really trying to blow that sucker up. In the four innings he started, he put the leadoff hitter on via a walk three times. And in the one inning he didn’t walk the leadoff hitter, he gave up a two-out double and two walks to load the bases. Really, it was only a matter of time before the wheels fell off. But when they did, it wasn’t entirely Hernandez’s fault. A misplayed fly ball and another lost in the sun contributed to a looming disaster.
Thankfully, the bullpen saved the day:
• 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K
• Leo Nunez will get credit for the win, but really he should get a save. Entering the game with runners at second and third and asked to face the heart of the lineup, the kid calmly strikes out Melvin Mora and gets Miguel Tejada to fly out to end the threat. There couldn’t have been a bigger situation than that in Thursday’s game.
Nunez pitched 2.2 innings and was economic with his pitches, needing only 27 to get his eight outs.
• Jaime Cerda followed and, like Nunez, was a model of efficiency throwing 17 pitches for his six outs.
• Mike MacDougal was surprisingly brilliant striking out the side in the ninth to nail down the win, starting each batter with a called strike. His fastball was jumping today, hitting 97 mph on the stadium radar gun.
The Royals picked up an insurance run in the eighth by not getting a base hit. After Matt Stairs walked and Matt Diaz was hit by a pitch, Oriole reliever Steve Reed really fell apart. He walked Ruben Gotay to load the bases and followed that by walking Alberto Castillo on four pitches. The Royals are poised for another big inning and the chance to really put the game away.
Enter Joe McEwing.
To face a pitcher who is clearly struggling (eight of his last nine pitches were out of the strikezone) and gift wrap an at bat like that is criminal. Maybe I’m nitpicking. After all, we are enjoying a victory today. But you know what, there’s a right way to play the game and there’s a wrong way to play the game. It just hacks me off to see a so-called professional have an at bat that would make any little leaguer embarrassed.
Maybe McEwing should take a lesson from Stairs, who has been a walking machine drawing 13 bases on balls in the last six games. He’s also scored nine runs in those games. Hmmmmm…
One other quick note from this series. After going 0-4 (and stranding six runners) Thurday, the Orioles Tejada is a paltry 4-25 at the plate which equates to a John Buck-like .160/.222/.200. If he didn't have to play the Royals, his numbers would be .350/.391/.650. Call the Royals if you are at all interested in getting Miguel Tejada out. Credit to the excellent Baseball Musing's Day By Day Database for the breakdown of Tejada.
No movement today on the line for the next manager. This search is going to be slow, methodical, and so far, boring.
But Bob Schaefer has seized the opportunity, hasn’t he? Usually, most interm managers kind of stay the course of the previous regime. After all, their job is only temporary so why rock the boat? Schaefer’s approach is different. Things on this team have changed from batting order, to pitching rotation, to the bullpen. Schaefer really seems wants this job and is trying to show management that he can be part of the solution. He’s still listed as the favorite over on the right. I think Allard is going to give him a long look.
THE NEXT SERIES
Thanks to the brilliant marketing machine that is the MLB, Friday marks the beginning of inter-league play. I'll be at the game on Friday for Zack Greinke vs. Mark Mulder. To say I'm looking forward to this matchup would be an understatement.