Monday, June 13, 2005

It's A Dry Heat

Don’t you love it when a “best-case scenario” actually happens?

That’s what happened for the Royals, wrapping up this roadtrip taking two out of three from the Diamondbacks and going four for six overall.

I refer to it as a best-case scenario for two reasons. Entering this roadtrip it was generally known that:
1) Lima would start one game. (Expected loss)
2) J.P. Howell would make his major league debut (Could have been a loss, but was a win.)

FRIDAY

Unfortunately, the Royals non Lima-related loss came from the inability of Zack Greinke to get anyone out on Friday night. There has been much speculation over the weekend as to what is happening to our young pitching prodigy. Is it injury? Is it stuborness? One of the more plausible theories comes from Clark at the excellent OP-ED Page who is convinced Greinke is tipping his pitches. Entirely possible. But the problem is, if young Zack has been tipping his pitches, it didn’t begin on Friday night. Check out his numbers from his last five starts:






DateOpp.IPHERBBK
5/20vs. StL59613
5/25At TEX56434
5/31Vs. NY53332
6/05Vs. TEX4.110703
6/10At ARI4.1151122
Totals5 starts23.24331914


That's an 11.79 ERA.

I don’t know what’s more troubling. That Greinke is tipping his pitches or that it will have taken the Royals braintrust at least five starts before they figured out that’s what he was doing.

Lost in all the fuss over our young prodigy was a potentially epic comeback Friday night. Down nine runs and all but left for dead, the Royals once again gallantly battled back to tie the game and force extra frames. We will remain stubborn on the issue of Buddy Bell, but we will acknowledge this team has shown more fight over the last two weeks than we have seen in the previous two years. And that is a very good thing.

SATURDAY

Before the Buddy Bell hire, we had used this space time and again to speak of our admiration for Royals General Manager Allard Baird. But frankly, since the Bell decision, some of the luster had gone. The latest criticism coming from the decision to option (and possibly lose via a waiver claim) Ryan Jensen and the call up of J.P. Howell to start on Saturday.

Well, apparently Allard does know best.

Jensen clears waivers before ultimately returning to the big club due to an injury to Steve Stemle. He goes to the bullpen as a reliever.

But best of all was the debut of Howell. We have to admit, we were skeptical with the latest decision to rush a prospect through the minor league system. Lacking a single, dominant pitch, Howell is, by all accounts, a pitcher who relies on control to get batters out. Obviously, the margin for error is much less the higher you progress and he had only made one start at Omaha for crying out loud.

Tip of the cap to J.P. Howell for making us look the fool.

Howell was awesome in his major league debut, throwing five innings, allowing four hits and best of all…striking out eight batters. It seemed the Diamondbacks were having troubling picking up his pitches. It probably didn’t matter since his pitches were dancing on the corners, never seeming to catch the heart of the plate. If you are a Royals fan (and if you’re reading this, you probably are) I hope you were in front of the television or your computer on Saturday night. It was, as they used to say, “Must See TV.” Oh, if you didn’t get to see Howell in action, his next scheduled start is next Friday, against another UT alum…Roger Clemens.

Don’t you just love happy endings?

SUNDAY

There was another happy ending on Sunday when the Royals scored six runs in the 12th to take the game 9-4. Three times in extra innings, the Royals got their leadoff man on base. And three times in extra innings, the Royals took the lead. Yes, it was frustrating that Jensen couldn’t hold the lead, but credit to him for maintaining his composure after giving up the leadoff homerun to Craig Counsell in the tenth and the tying triple to Quinton McCracken in the eleventh.

And we would be remiss not to take note of yet another strong starting performance from the current ace of the staff, D.J. Carrasco. Carrasco got into a bit of hot water in the fourth and wiggled out of another jam in the sixth. You just had a feeling after the last two nights, Sunday’s game would turn into a pitching duel. Carrasco and Diamondback starter Brandon Webb did not disappoint.

THE HAPPY TOTALS

After a wild weekend of baseball check out some of these offensive numbers posted by the Royals:

28 Runs
46 Hits
.343 AVG

Yes, the Royals bats were warming up, out in the desert.

The Royals return home this week for three against the Dodgers and three against the Astros.

And be sure to check back Tuesday for some more analysis of the Royals hot bats.

3 Comments:

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Brett said...

Since I don't get to watch the games, and rarely get to listen to them, I'll have to rely on others to help me out. Is there any change in approach at the plate with the change of batting coaches that has coincided with livelier bats?

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

What I LOVED about the 12-11 loss to Arizona was that the Royals allowed the D-Backs to walk them...what was it? 10 times or something?

Whatever. The Royals weren't going to come back without help, and they allowed the D-Backs shaky 'pen to give it to them. Great stuff.

 
At 3:11 PM, Blogger Craig Brown said...

BRETT-

You know the old adage, "Hitting is contagous."

I think it's a combination of things.

First, the Royals are more agressive at the plate. Gone is the directive to work the count to get the favorable pitch to hit. Now the hitters are still being selective, but more agressive in their approach.

Second, it's fun to play baseball again. After Pena quit, you got the feeling that several players weren't too disappointed. It's hard going to work everyday when you don't respect your boss. I think a number of players had lost their respect for the manager.

Some more number crunching will follow on Tuesday.

DANIEL-

Of everyone, I knew you'd love the DBack's bullpen implosion.

I recall a post by you about a month ago where you asked if the DBacks could continue their surprising start. It's just too bad the Giants haven't been able to take advantage of their collapse.

 

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