Brooms Back For Second Sweeping?

6-25 Guillen.jpgFor the second time in a week, we’re looking to get out the brooms. And for the second time in a week, we’re looking to win our fifth in a row.

Luke Hochevar started this nice little run (9-1 in last 10 games) when he squared off against Randy Johnson in Arizona on June 14. Hochevar toes the rubber tonight, looking to keep the Royals winning ways going. To see how we got here, let’s go around the horn…

First
The offense is on a tear lately, but we’ve talked about that plenty in this space, although we’ll never get tired of it. One thing we also can never talk about enough – and Dayton Moore would agree with this – is great pitching. 

Zack Greinke wasn’t nice to the Rockies last night. He tied a career high when he whiffed 10 and walked none. That’s what happens when he’s on. He throws strikes and makes the hitters work to get on base. Greinke threw 99 pitches last night. Only 29 were balls. Greinke succeeded and he picked up his seventh win of the season because of it. True, his teammates gave him five runs while he was in the game and added another two for insurance. 6-25 Greinke.jpgBut Greinke made sure they wouldn’t need to do too much, picking up his 12th “quality start” of the season. Gil Meche is the only other Royals starter to punch out 10 in a game this season, which was on June 15 in Arizona and was game two of the Royals current 9-1 run. Greinke is the only Royals’ starter to do it last season. In fact, since 2003, the Royals have just five games in which a starter struck out 10 since 2003. Greinke’s got two.

What’s maybe more interesting, is that Greinke did it in six innings, as 10 of his 18 outs recorded were punchies. Meche went seven during his 10 K day and Greinke went eight last year when he hit double-digits.

Greinke has 84 K’s this season in 106 innings with only 33 walks. Last night he earned his seventh win, which ties his 2007 totals and is one shy of his career high from 2004, his rookie season. His career high for strikeouts is 114 in 2005.

While strikeouts don’t guarantee wins, they sure help. They can kill rallies and give a boost to the crowd at the same time. Greinke’s seven wins put him in a tie with Brian Bannister for the team lead. Bannister is a different kind of pitcher, a guy who pitches to contact, so his K numbers aren’t as high as Greinke. But for No. 23, lots of strikeout numbers has transferred to a good deal of wins this season.

Second
Speaking of pitching, the team has an ERA of 3.08 over the last ten games and is averaging 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings, including last night’s new season high 14 K’s as a staff. Despite the overall good pitching, Dayton Moore has shown he is not going to leave well enough alone and be content with good pitching. Since Sunday, the Royals have called up Joel Peralta, purchased the contract of Horacio Ramirez and claimed Robinson Tejeda from the Rangers.

Tejeda (Tuh-HAY-duh), will be in uniform tonight, wearing No. 51. The new Royals pitcher is a 6-3, 230 pound right-hander with a cannon for an arm and Major League experience with the Phillies and Rangers. Trey Hillman calls him simply “a power arm.” He has previous starting experience in the Majors and had four relief appearances with the Rangers earlier this season.

Yasuhiko Yabuta was optioned as the corresponding roster move. Yabuta will report to Omaha. Hillman said he just needs to work on getting back to where he was a month ago when he had 10 appearances in which he only allowed one run over 9.2 innings for a 0.93 ERA. Opposing hitters were batting just .176 against him during that period. 

Short
Lefty Ron Mahay, an unsung hero this year in the ‘pen, has not allowed a run in his last eight appearances, totaling 9.1 scoreless innings…Mike Aviles, David DeJesus and Ross Gload all have hitting streaks of four games or more with DeJesus reaching double digits last night with 10 straight…Aviles has also recorded at least one RBI in five straight…With their 11th win of the season over a National League team yesterday, the Royals secured their best interleague record in team history…The only game the Royals have lost over their last 10 was last Friday, which also happens to be the only game they haven’t homered in during their last 10…Note from Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Yasuhiko Yabuta, who was optioned today, has no timetable on when he may return. The Royals don’t set timetables on recalls…The Kansas City Star‘s Bob Dutton, as president of the BBWAA, has been named one of the official scorers for the 2008 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium. Congrats to Bob!

Third
This weekend is a big one. It’s Cardinals week 2.0. The festivities here at the K really get started with the sold out Diamond of Dreams charity extravaganza tomorrow and then the Redbirds come to town Friday. Silverstein Eye Centers, sponsor of the “Eye-70″ series (get it?), will be giving out a Rally Racket on Saturday, which is also the day Art Stewart will be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame. Sunday children can pick up free admission to the new Coco Key Water Park just across I-70 from the ballpark in the Sheraton.

Tickets are going fast for the “Eye”-70 Series. The Royals are hot and the Cardinals always draw well, so get ‘em now so you don’t miss out.

Lineup:
DeJesus RF
Aviles SS
Gordon 3B
Guillen LF           
Teahen DH
Buck C
Gload 1B
Callaspo 2B
Gathright CF

Hochevar P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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