Saturday night the Texas Rangers hit two homers that accounted for five of their seven runs; a two-run shot in the fourth and a three-run blast in the seventh. But two walks scored in front of those home runs and two more walks scored on a Rangers single and a double.
When I started this job, Tim Bogar — currently the Seattle Mariners’ bench coach — encouraged me to pay attention to walks that score. It’s an interesting stat; once you start looking for it, the number of games that are lost by the number of walks that score is amazing and Saturday night was yet another example.
The Royals lost 7-4 and four of the walks issued to the Rangers scored.
Kansas City is 39-13 when they score four or more runs and one quick way to keep the other team from scoring so often is to quit walking people. Pitchers don’t control home runs, but a big-league pitcher should be able to control walks.
And the Royals pitchers need to start doing it.
The two Yordano Venturas
On Saturday night against the Texas Rangers, Yordano Ventura was lights out for three innings. He faced nine batters, struck out four and didn’t give up a hit. He threw 40 pitches and 70 percent of them were strikes.
In his final two innings Ventura was a different pitcher.
He faced 13 batters, struck out one, walked four, threw a wild pitch, gave up two doubles, a home run and three runs. In his final two innings Ventura threw 49 pitches and 51 percent of them were strikes.
In the fifth inning Ventura gave up a double to Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields was trying to score from first base; Ventura neglected to back up home plate — he never left the mound.
There is no play in baseball where the pitcher is encouraged to stand around and watch, but it happens all the time; usually when things aren’t going well.
Royals fans have seen two Yordano Ventura’s: one Ventura pitches with so much bling and enthusiasm other teams want to beat him just to shut him up, the other Ventura goes into a shell and appears to be going through the motions.
Saturday night we got to see both of them.
Was Soria over-exposed?
Ventura left the game after five innings and 89 pitches, mainly because Adrian Beltre tried to hit a baseball through him. Ventura took a shot to the ribs when Beltre hit a ball back to the mound, made the play to end the inning, but was done for the night.
Joakim Soria replaced Ventura and made it through a scoreless sixth inning, but was asked to pitch the seventh and that’s when the wheels came off; two walks, a single and a home run made the score 7-1.
So was Soria over-exposed?
Coming into Saturday night’s game Soria had been asked to pitch more than one inning four times this season. In those four appearances he pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed one earned run, so in 2016 Soria had performed well when asked to go more than one inning.
After Saturday night’s loss Soria was asked if fatigue was an issue and he said it wasn’t, but he also said Beltre’s home run was given up on a good pitch — the same thing he said when he gave up a walk-off home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. You can give up a bloop single on a good pitch, but if they leave the yard, the pitch wasn’t that good.
So if Soria was fatigued and wouldn’t admit it or he was being honest when he said fatigue was not a factor, Ned Yost had reason to believe Soria could handle more than one inning.
He has less reason to believe that now.
Cheslor Cuthbert batting second
Some guys can hit well in the bottom of the order, but move them up and they “get a nosebleed”… they can’t hit that high. They put too much pressure on themselves and stop hitting.
So far, Cheslor Cuthbert does not appear to have that problem. After four games and 17 plate appearances in the two-hole, Cuthbert is hitting .538 with a slugging percentage of .923. I’m going to climb out on a limb and say Cuthbert isn’t going to hit .538 for the rest of the season, but at this point Cuthbert is having no problem hitting high in the order.