Friday, May 16, 2008

Game 41: Kansas City @ Florida

Game Date: May 16, 2008
Royals 7, Marlins 6 / Box Score
WP: Tomko (2-4), LP: Miller (3-3), SV: Soria (11) 
Royal Home Runs: Olivo (5)
Royals Record: 20-21

Thankfully the Marlins are a poor fielding team. They were only charged with one error, but they probably should have been credited with three or four. But the Royals took advantage of the Marlins misfortune and that's a key difference from seasons past. Over the past few years, a team would attempt to hand us a game and we'd give it right back.

Not this time.

Jose Guillen is looking better right now than he has all season. He singled in two runs in the first inning. He hit a deep blast to left field to lead off the fourth inning that bounced off the wall and ended up as a double. He ripped a single to center in the fifth inning. And he raised his average to .238. Still nothing to write home about, but it's nice to see him driving in runs.

Going into the fourth inning, the Royals were up 2-1, and that's when the comedy of errors began for the Marlins. After Guillen doubled, Billy Butler grounded out. Then Miguel Olivo reached first on what probably should have been an error, but it was ruled an infield single. Then he stole second. And after Mark Teahen struck out, the Marlins walked Tony Pena intentionally to get to the pitcher, Brett Tomko, and Tomko reached first on an error by Hanley Ramirez--Guillen scored on the play. Joey Gathright followed that with a bases loaded walk to drive in Olivo. That gave the Royals a 4-1 lead.

Brett Tomko was solid for six innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits and one walk. He struck out four. He left the game with the Royals leading 4-2. They went up 6-2 when Olivo hit a towering two-run home run to left field in the eighth inning. And that looked like it would be the ball game, but the Marlins had success against the bullpen tonight. They scored two runs against Ramon Ramirez to make it 6-4 in the eighth. And the finally got to Joakim Soria.

In the top of the ninth, Joey Gathright popped a bunt into the air, but Wes Helms whiffed on it and it dropped into fair territory. He picked it up in time to force out DeJesus at second, but after Mark Grudzielanek walked, Alex Gordon singled in Gathright and that turned out to be the game winner because Jeremy Hermida took Soria deep in the bottom of the ninth to bring the Marlins to within a run.

I've been wondering how Soria would respond after giving up a big blow like that. And he hardly let it phase him. He came right back and struck out the next two guys to end the game. That's what a closer does.

It was an ugly win, but who cares? A win is a win and the Royals have won five straight, which brings them to within a game of .500, and it puts them just 1.5 games out of first in the AL Central.

Tomorrow night Brian Bannister (4-4, 3.75) will go up against Scott Olsen (4-1, 2.63) who was originally scheduled to pitch tonight. Bannister has never faced the Marlins. Olsen is 0-1 in his career against the Royals with a 6.00 ERA in 6.0 IP.

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