Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Game 45: Kansas City @ Boston

Game Date: May 20, 2008
Red Sox 2, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Masterson (1-0), LP: Meche (3-6), SV: Papelbon (13)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 21-24

Fundamentals. That's what Trey Hillman was all about this spring. Unfortunately, the Royals, namely Jose Guillen, failed to get it done when the game was on the line last night.

With the Royals down 2-1 in the eighth inning, David DeJesus doubled down the right field line to lead off the inning. Mark Grudzielanek moved him to third. Alex Gordon drew a walk, which brought Jose Guillen to the plate with a chance to tie the game with a sacrifice fly. Hideki Okajima threw him three straight fast balls and struck him out swinging. Papelbon came in and struck out Billy Butler to end the threat.

It's too bad because Gil Meche pitched well. He struggled in the second inning and gave up two runs, but after that he settled in. In fact, by the sixth inning he retired 10 straight. He had his cutter working early, but it seemed to flatten out on him and he began to throw more change ups and curve balls and the Red Sox had a hard time figuring him out. He ended up throwing 119 pitches and he retired 16 of the last 18 guys he faced.

Paul Splittorff mentioned a couple of startling facts about Meche during the game. Meche is receiving less run support this season than he did last. And last season opponents hit just .233 against him with RISP. This season they are hitting around .400. Less run support plus a much higher opponents batting average with RISP equals a 3-6 record.

You might be tired of me talking about Mark Grudzielanek here, but he did a couple of things yesterday that kept the Royals in the game.

In the third inning, shortly after Meche had thrown 32 pitches in the bottom half of the second, the Royals were on the verge of going 1-2-3 on about five pitches and sending Meche right back to the mound. Tony Pena grounded out on the second pitch. David DeJesus lined out on the second pitch. And Grud came up and looked at a first pitch strike--probably hoping to extend the AB to give Meche a bit of a breather. He watched the next four pitches and ended up drawing a walk. Alex Gordon singled after that and was subsequently thrown out after getting caught between first and second. But by then, Meche had enough time to catch his breathe. From there on out he was nearly unhittable (he gave up just one hit after that).

Then, in the eighth inning, Grud moved DeJesus to third with a chopper up the middle, which gave Guillen and Butler a chance to tie the game.

Unfortunately, the Royals only ended up with five hits for the evening, so I guess we're right back where we were before the Florida series. Nothing against Justin Masterson, because he threw a good game, but he's not even staying in the Major Leagues. He was sent down to make room for Bartolo Colon. Masterson is the type of guy who you've got to get to in a series like this--especially when your supposed ace is mowing down the opponent.

Tonight, Brett Tomko (2-4, 5.32) will go up against Colon (0-0, 0.00). Tomko is 1-1 in his career against the Red Sox with a 7.02 ERA in 16.2 IP. Colon is 14-7 against the Royals with a 4.88 ERA in 151.1 IP.

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