Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Game 107: Kansas City @ Oakland

Game Date: July 28, 2008
Royals 4, A's 2 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (8-7), LP: Braden (2-1), SV: Soria (28)
Royal Home Runs: Guillen (14), Gordon (12)
Royals Record: 48-59

Jose Guillen's two-run home run in the first inning seemed to be exactly what Zack Greinke needed to get back on track. He hadn't won a game since June 24 against the Rockies and he hasn't pitched well since July 10 when he faced the White Sox. And before this game, his ERA for the month of June was 6.14. He said that the Royals early lead gave him a cushion to attack hitters, and attack he did. He struck out a career high 11 and he pitched into the eighth inning.

Alex Gordon had a big night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run and 2 RBI. Mike Aviles was 3-for-5 raising his average to .314. And Billy Butler was 2-for-3. So the Royals managed just enough offense to give the ball to Joakim Soria in the ninth with a lead and you know what that means. 1-2-3.

Soria is slowly drawing closer to having one of the ten best seasons a closer has ever had for the Royals. As you might imagine, Jeff Montgomery and Dan Quisenberry own the Royals record book regarding top ten save seasons. In 1995, Jeff Montgomery had 31 saves—good for tenth best. Soria will obviously go beyond that this season. Monty and Quiz are tied for the most amount of saves in a season at 45 (Monty did it in 1993—with a 2.27 ERA, Quiz did it in 1983—with a 4.08 ERA). If Soria can keep his ERA anywhere close to where it is now, he may just end up with the best season a closer has ever experienced in a Royals' uniform.

If you look at Soria's career save numbers, which only include this season and last, he's already number seven on the Royals all-time saves list with 44. Next up is Steve Farr who had 49 career saves. Doug Bird is third on the list with 58. So Soria needs just 14 to tie Bird and 15 to move into third place all-time. Of course, all of these numbers tell you just how bad the Royals have been at the back end of their pen with the exception of Monty and Quiz. But it is still fun to see Soria performing so well.

The Royals look to win the series in Oakland tonight. Gil Meche (8-9, 4.31) will go up against Greg Smith (5-9, 3.90). Meche is 2-7 in his career against the A's with a 4.00 ERA in 90.0 IP. Smith is 0-0 against the Royals with a 5.40 ERA in 5.0 IP.

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