The last couple of weeks, the Monday entry of WTP has been devoted to breaking down each game over the weekend. That’s not going to happen today. Mainly because Friday and Saturday were so damn predictable and depressing. Perhaps it can best be illustrated by an equation:
Roger Clemens + Roy Oswalt = 2 runs and 0 wins.
So the fear is this is where the Royals come back to earth. After all, haven’t they been playing out of their minds since Buddy Bell was hired? They’re winning games and scoring runs. They win four out of six, they sweep playoff contenders and play fundamentally sound baseball. It has to stop sometime, right? This was going to be it: The weekend when the honeymoon ends.
Enter Runelvys Hernandez.
After spending the better part of the last two days being dominated by your opponent, you need someone to come forward and stop the bleeding. That’s always been the role of the number one starter. He’s the guy who is called upon to put a halt to those little two and three game losing streaks before they snowball into something much more serious. And didn’t it feel as though the Royals had just a little too much “downhill momentum?”
Hernandez, after missing the last part of 2003 and all of 2004, isn’t the “ace” or the number one starter on this staff. Anyway, as long as Zack Greinke is around, Hernandez won’t ever be thought of as the number one guy. Hell, he doesn’t even have “ace” material to begin with, so it’s pretty much irrelevant. But what’s not irrelevant is how Hernandez stepped forward on Sunday afternoon and prevented the Royals from being swept by Houston.
Hernandez pitched like an “ace”:
7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO
Just what was needed after a terrible start to the weekend series.
Challenging Astro batters, Hernandez was ahead in the count most of the afternoon, mixing his fastball with a wicked slider. The coincidence should not be lost on anyone the fact that one of the few batters he fell behind, (Morgan Ensberg in the fifth) drew a walk, stole a base and scored. As Hernandez may come to find out, it pays big money when you are a pitcher who consistently works ahead in the count.
Some other Royal notes:
• Emil Brown continues to come up huge for the Royals in the big situations. Sunday it was a three run bomb to break the game open in the sixth. Of course, we have to point out the role Matt Stairs had in drawing a walk to get on base before the Brown home run. It bears repeating, Stairs and Brown are the key offensive performers for this team.
• Don’t be surprised if Mike Sweeney lands on the DL, possibly as early as today. An MRI revealed a torn ligament in his wrist. Apparently, a ligament in his wrist was already torn and doctors aren’t sure if this is the same one. Nothing infuriates WTP more than the cloak and dagger shenanigans regarding Captain Sweeney and his multitude of injuries. Just admit what everyone knows and put him on the DL for cryin’ out loud.
• Ambiorix Burgos left the game in the eighth with shoulder stiffness after facing only one batter. It seems odd that someone could go through his entire warm-up routine, enter a game, throw even more warm-up pitches and then experience shoulder stiffness. Hopefully, it’s minor and he’ll be ready to go this later this week.
• Did you see where Darrell May beat Johan Santana? Writing as someone who suffered through May’s three seasons with the Royals, all I can offer is baseball’s a damn funny game sometimes.
• The Royals are 12-6 since Buddy Bell was hired as manager. In a somewhat related story, the Cleveland Indians are 13-5 since Buddy Bell left as the bench coach. Hmmmm.