It took more than eight hours from start to finish, but the Royals swept Sundays doubleheader against the Red Sox. Kelvin Herrera got the win in game two, a 5-4 victory in ten innings. This was not a clean game: starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie walked four and two of them scored. Alex Gordon got charged with an errormore on that in a momentand the bullpen issued two more walks (one intentional).
By LEE JUDGE
The Kansas City Star
The bullpen came up with four scoreless innings after Guthrie left, the offense contributed three home runsincluding a Billy Butler game-tying homer in the eighthand then figured out a way to scratch out the winning run in the tenth. Like I said, this was not a clean game, but it was a win. Last season the Royals lost games like this. This seasonwith improved starting pitching that knows how to limit the damagetheyve been winning them.
Alex Gordon doubled on the first pitch of the game, a 95-mph fastball from rookie Allen Webster. So why not take a pitch and see if Webstermaking his first major league appearancegot himself into trouble? Gordon will sometimes swing at a games first pitch to send the message that a pitcher cant just pour a fastball down the middle to get ahead.
Gordon might have also figured Webster was going to be nervous and do just that: try to get ahead by throwing a first-pitch fastball for a strike. Alex made Webster pay and scored when Pedro Ciriaco picked up an Alcides Escobar infield single and threw it to a beer vendor working the section behind the first-base dugout.
I dont know what Webster was thinking in his first major league start, but it probably would have been a good idea to throw whatever catcher David Ross called. Ross has been in the big leagues for quite a while and ought to have a decent idea of what to throw and when to throw it.
Webster pitched six innings and walked off the mound with an ERA of 3.00, so something was working for him. Good stuff and David Ross probably helped.
Alex Gordon was given an error when a ball fell untouched between him and Lorenzo Cain. (Thats very tough scoring and dont be surprised if it gets changed.) The centerfielder is in charge and can call off a corner outfielder, even if the corner outfielder has a Gold Glove. I dont know for sure, but Im guessing Cain was calling for the ball, but Alex couldnt hear him over the crowd.
In the fifth inning catcher George Kottaras blocked a pitch, but the ball rolled away from him and a runner advanced. You can sometimes tell how well a catcher blocks by how far the ball rolls away after the block is made. Its amazing how Salvador Perez can block a pitch in the mid-nineties and still have the ball stop dead at his feet.
I havent seen Kottaras catch that much so were looking at a pretty small sample size when we talk about him blocking pitchesmaybe that one was an aberration.
In the third inning with Jacoby Ellsbury on second base and nobody out, Daniel Nava wanted to hit the ball to the right side of the field. That wouldat a minimumallows Ellsbury to move up to third base. Nava got the job done on a 75-mph curveball. I wondered about the pitch selection since Nava was hitting from the left side and something off-speed would help him move Ellsbury by pulling the ball, but most of the time the players know something I dontmaybe this is one of those times.
Later in the same inning Dustin Pedroia was thrown out trying to steal second base. Good thingMike Napoli doubled and Pedroia probably would have scored.
The Royals pitched out when Pedroia stole, which might make you think the Royals had the Red Sox signs. Thats always a possibility, but teams also pay attention to a base runners tendencies and if they find a count or situation where hes likely to run, they might pitch out. Either way, good work by the benchthey generally tell the catcher when to pitch out.
Also in the thirda lot happened in that inningElliot Johnson saved a run by backing up Eric Hosmer. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a hot shot off Hosmers glove and Elliot picked the ball up and threw it home to prevent Mike Napoli from scoring. The scorebook shows a 3-4-2-5-2-6 put out. If Johnson doesnt back up Hosmer, this game doesnt go to extra innings.
Holland gets his second save
Greg Holland picked up two saves in one day and looked nearly unhittable doing it. Greg had a couple rough outings and some people started talking about making Kelvin Herrera the closer. Fortunately for Holland and the Royals, none of those people were Ned Yost.
Ned once told me that being impatient causes a lot of problems in the game of baseball. At the time we were talking about Alcides Escobar and his struggles at the plate, but the same thing applies to Greg Hollandimpatience will cause a lot of problems. Its hard to know precisely when a change is necessary, but making a change when it isnt necessary can also get a team into trouble.