Thursday, August 21, 2008

Game 126: Kansas City @ Cleveland

Game Date: August 20, 2008
Indians 8, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Rincon (3-3), LP: Soria (1-3), SV: Lewis (4)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 55-71

And it gets worse.

Gil Meche was nearly unhittable last night. In fact, if Alex Gordon hadn't committed an error in the first inning, thereby giving the Indians an extra AB which led to a two-run home run, Meche would have given up just one hit on the evening. He had his change up and curve ball working again and he was keeping it down. He retired 17 straight batters by the end of the seventh inning, and then Trey Hillman decided to put the game in the hands of the bullpen.

On paper, it makes sense. Ramon Ramirez has been strong in the set up role and Joakim Soria has been lights out all season. But when your starter is cruising like he was, don't you let him at least come out for the eighth? If he gives up a hit or a walk, nobody is going to question why you pulled him. But Hillman looked at the pitch count, and apparently the lateness of the season, and decided to pull him.

Then disaster struck.

But first, listen to what Hillman had to say about being second-guessed after the game:

"Easy to second-guess?" Hillman said. "Well, he's over 100 pitches and it's late in the season. He's not going to have any extra rest. We're already falling apart with our rotation. I don't understand why there'd be second-guessing, it's a no-brainer for me. If people want to second-guess that decision, that's fine."

A little testy there, aren't we Trey? You had to expect someone to ask why you pulled Meche.

Maybe all this losing is finally getting to Hillman. That would be understandable.

He handed the ball to Ramirez with a 5-3 Royals lead to begin the eighth. Two pitches into the inning, Kelly Shoppach hit a home run to left field to bring the Indians to within a run. Then Ramirez walked a guy, who was moved to second with a sacrifice bunt.

Enter Joakim Soria who was being asked to get a five-out save. He was certainly rested enough, given how many games the Royals have lost lately. But he walked the first guy he faced, Grady Sizemore, and then gave up a two-run home run to Franklin Gutierrez. Ryan Garko singled in two more guys later in the inning and you could just see by the looks on the faces in the Royals' dugout that they had nothing left.

They went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning and have now lost 11 of their last 13 games.

Did you get a chance to see Mitch Maier's AB in the fifth inning? Nasty stuff. Maier was trying to get a sacrifice bunt down and Zach Jackson came up and in, hitting Maier in the face with a pitch. Maier suffered three "nondisplaced" facial fractures to his cheek bone, the orbital floor beneath the eye, and the zygomatic bone. He's head for the DL and Joey Gathright was recalled to take his place.

If you are looking for a positive, besides Meche's performance, you can look to Mike Aviles who was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. He's been in a "slump" in August in comparison to the rest of the season. Of course, even his slump months are better than nearly everybody else on the team. He's hitting .304 in August.

The Royals play the final game of the series this afternoon in Cleveland. Zack Greinke (9-8, 3.92) will go up against Cliff Lee (17-2, 2.43) in what should be a great pitchers duel. Greinke is 3-6 in his career against the Indians with a 4.14 ERA in 58.2 IP. Lee is 9-4 against the Royals with a 4.88 ERA in 94.0 IP.

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics