Monday, August 03, 2009

Banny Being Banny

Game Date: August 2, 2009
Kansas City @ Tampa Bay
Royals 4, Rays 1 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (7-7), LP: Shields (6-8), SV: Soria (18)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 41-63 / Record in August 1-1

How good does it feel to see a team have a defensive meltdown against the Royals rather than seeing it happen by the Royals? Maybe we shouldn’t rejoice over such things, but with a season like this, every win feels far better than it should—regardless of the way it happened.

That’s not to take anything away from Brian Bannister, who looked like the Banny we’ve been waiting for. He improved to 7-7 with the win, but on this team, you have to figure wins in dog years because they are so hard to come by. Well maybe not dog years, but maybe multiplying it by 1.5 would be give you the number he might have if he were playing for another team. Although, at the risk of sounding like I’m inching toward sabermetrics, wins is one of the most meaningless categories in existence. Getting a win has just as much to do with the offense and defense on any given night than it does with the way the starter pitched. But I’ll let the sabermetricians handle that argument.

Remember when Banny didn’t make the club out of Spring Training? Kyle Davies was the number three guy to start the season. Sidney Ponson was number four. And Horacio Ramirez was number five. Wow. The Royals would probably say sending Banny to Omaha got him back on track, and maybe it did, but whatever happened, it’s nice to see him pitching the way he did yesterday. His change up looked better than I’ve ever seen it. Not only was the speed of it fooling hitters, but he kept it low and out of harms way.

Of course, he was just trying to keep the Royals in the game while his counterpart, James Shields, was no-hitting the Royals through seven innings. I never had the feeling that Shields would pull it off though. After the game he said he “really wasn’t thinking about the no-hitter,” which is probably not humanly possible, and given the way he dropped his head in reaction to John Buck lining a single into right field in the eight inning, not believable. His defense took it from there.

Mitch Maier probably had the game of his life—making a good throw from center field in the sixth inning to nail B.J. Upton at the plate. Two innings later, he drove in the first run of the game for the Royals, and then in the ninth he had a two-run single. He produces so very little at the big league level that it was shocking to see him come up big with the glove and the bat.

Throwing caution to the wind, Trey Hillman used “Jack” for the final two innings to nail down the save. I really like this move. I liked it two Saturdays ago and I liked it yesterday. Why use him in meaningless games just to get him work? Let him get his work in games that matter.

The Royals play at 11:08 am today and unfortunately, it’s not on TV. Zack Greinke (10-6, 2.08) will go up against Scott Kazmir (4-6, 6.22). Greinke is 0-2 in his career against the Rays with a 3.31 ERA in 35.1 IP. Kazmir is 1-2 against the Royals with a 4.95 ERA in 40.0 IP.

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