Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Game 38: Detroit @ Kansas City

Game Date: May 13, 2008
Royals 3, Tigers 2 / Box Score
WP: Nunez (3-0), LP: Cruceta (0-1), SV: Soria (9) 
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 17-21

It's games like this that give Royals fans hope. And why not? Look around the league right now. Tampa Bay leads the AL East. The evil Yankees are more games out of first place in their division than the Royals are in theirs. Oakland wasn't supposed to contend in the West, but they are six games over .500 and just a half a game back. Florida is two games up on the Mets in the NL East.

It's still early. And the Royals are still struggling to score runs--a trend that will probably continue all season, but their pitching staff is probably the best KC fans have seen in twenty years. And most of them are young or in their prime. They are also gaining confidence, having fun (with an exception or two, like John Bale), and putting the Royals in a position to win.

Zack Greinke's outing last night is a good example. He gave up two earned runs on nine hits and two walks in six innings. As he was running out of gas at the end of the sixth inning, the bases were loaded with two outs, and he knew that the game was on the line. In seasons past, Buddy Bell would have probably came and got Greinke, but that isn't Hillman's way. And I like that. Greinke stayed in to face Pudge Rodriguez and he went right after him--striking him out on three pitches.

"Pudge always hits me good, but I made three really good pitches," Greinke said after the game. "I felt like it was going to decide the game. I threw all three as hard as I could and luckily they went right where they needed to be."

So Greinke left the game with it tied 2-2. Two innings later, Trey Hillman pushed all the right buttons and the Royals scored the winning run on an infield hit up the middle by Mark Teahen that led to a throwing error by Edgar Renteria, who tried to flip the ball awkwardly to second. Esteban German, who was pinch running, was on second when the play started and he scored easily.

Royals fans had other reasons to cheer throughout the game. Mark Grudzielanek was 3-for-4. He fouled a ball off his ankle early in the game and went down in a heap. He got right back up and kept going. Later in the game, during the sixth inning, he knocked a ball down to keep the Tigers from scoring. And that set the stage for Greinke to strike out Pudge, who was the next batter. Grud plays the game right and it paid off last night.

Jose Guillen banged two doubles, the second one coming in the eighth inning, which led to German pinch running for Guillen and then scoring the winning run. Guillen's first double drove in the first two runs of the game. The funny thing is, as poorly as Guillen has hit this season, he is still tied for the club lead in RBI with 19. Granted, he's in a prime spot in the batting order to drive in runs, but still, just imagine how many runs he might have driven in if he was hitting .272 (his career average) instead .216.

Tonight, Luke Hochevar (2-2, 4.94) will go up against Justin Verlander (1-6, 6.43). Hochevar is 0-0 in his career against the Tigers with a 2.70 ERA in 3.1 IP. Verlander is 6-0 against the Royals with a 2.65 ERA in 57.2 IP.

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics