Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Road To Recovery?

It’s not everyday you can say a pitcher is looking better after he gives up five runs in a little over five innings. But then again, Zack Greinke isn’t exactly an ordinary pitcher.

You might not believe it when you look at the box score, but the Royals’ Pitching Savant had his best outing in a long time.

5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO

Normally, Greinke throws five different pitches. But before the game Alberto Castillo said he was only going to call Greinke’s three best pitches, using whatever pitches were most effective while warming up in bullpen. For someone like Zack who is so talented and has so many weapons, maybe that’s the trick. Limit your options. That way the tendency to overthink won’t be there and you will be bringing your best stuff with every pitch.

For the most part that approach worked because he really was overpowering, striking out eight. His fastball had a little more velocity and that was setting up his other pitches, especially his breaking ball which had some nasty bite to it.

Through the first four innings, Greinke was equal to White Sox starter, Jon Garland. And if Matt Stairs had been able to cleanly field a hot-shot ground ball at first to start a double play, the game would have been scoreless through five.

The wheels fell off in the sixth when a hit batter and a pair of singles loaded the bases, chasing Greinke. For some reason, whenever pitches start getting away from Greinke on the inside part of the plate, that’s the sign he’s tiring. WTP Favorite Andy Sisco came in with the bases loaded, but allowed all three runners to score. And the way Garland was throwing, five runs was more than enough.

So there you go. Five runs for the Sox and all of them charged to Greinke. Yes, it is a loss and yes, five runs is five runs. But for a pitcher who has struggled as horribly as Greinke in recent outings, Tuesday night should act as a confidence builder.

Other items of note from Tuesday:

Justin Huber made his debut as a pinch hitter for Stairs in the ninth. After falling behind 0-2, he got the count back to even before flying out to center. With his first AB out of the way, we’re hoping he’s in the lineup Wednesday afternoon.

• Another major league debut to note when recent call-up Jonah Bayliss pitched a clean seventh inning. In his brief outing he looked good, throwing strikes with some nice action on his fastball. Bayliss posted a 2.66 ERA and struck out 52 batters in 47 innings at Wichita.

• With the addition of Bayliss, the Royals now have nine players on their roster who began the season in the minors.

Emil Brown extended his hitting streak to nine games. (.417/.500/.656)

And a couple of links of note:

• If you can get past that annoying “ping” sound, there are some happening games in the College World Series. In a wonderful, see-saw game Tuesday afternoon, the University of Nebraska was eliminated by Arizona State in extra innings. Of course, that means Alex Gordon is now free to begin his negotiations with the Royals. Any guesses as to where he starts, once he signs?

• The folks down under are happy with the progress of Justin Huber as he is now the 20th Aussie to make the big leagues. According to former hitting coach Jeff Pentland, Huber is “one of those tough Australians.” Quotes like these don’t make me miss Pentland.

• Since Brian Anderson has a little bit of free time on his hands, being on the 60 day DL and all, he’s become a blogger. Check out Confessions of a Left Hander over at mlblogs. Turns out BA is a huge Arrested Development fan, so he’s alright by me.

• Cincinnati Reds outfielder and part-time GM, Adam Dunn, thinks the Cubs would be a good fit for his recently demoted buddy Austin Kearns.

Matinee game on Wednesday. If things go according to plan at "the real job," there might be some time for updates throughout the afternoon.


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