Pitch It, Catch It and We'll Find a Way to Score
It was a solid win last night over a first place team. Timely hitting, great starting pitching from Gil Meche and a couple glamorous defensive plays and viola! Its the recipe to beat a team which, even after the loss, holds a slight edge over the defending World Series champs. And even better it came on Girls Night Out, which by all accounts was another huge success.
True, its just one win and we talked just the other day about being able to move on from one game to the next, but on the same token, its good to enjoy the team’s high points. That’s what being a fan is all about right? To do that, let’s go Around the Horn…
Gil Meche never went anywhere, but a rough start skewed his numbers. Now he’s back on track and poised to pass his win total from last season, when he was undoubtedly the Royals ace and won Pitcher of the Year. Meche did not allow a run for the first time since May 4 at Cleveland, when he also pitched seven shutout innings. After that start, he dropped his ERA to 5.98. One rough start later and he jumped back up to 6.31.
Then he started whittling it down. After logging so many innings, it took a while, but he’s shaved a full two runs off his ERA since his May 9 start versus Baltimore. Over his last 14 starts, Meche has a 3.27 ERA in 88 innings with 69 strikeouts, which is 7.06 K’s per nine innings.
For a little more prespective, the 2007 Gil Meche set a career best with a 3.67 ERA with 156 punch outs in 216 innings, which is 6.5 K’s per nine innings. Granted, Meche kept his numbers up over 34 starts in 2007, but it looks like we’ve seen the return of the real Gil Meche.
Defense is just as important to a win and three times already this homestand (we’ve only got video evidence of two), David DeJesus has made a spectacular play down the left field line. He’s laying out down there to save his pitchers runs.
His catch last night in particular – a head first layout onto the warning track gravel – became an instant replay on SportsCenter’s Top Plays, Baseball Tonight’s Web Gems, FSN’ Final Score, The Baseball Report and MLB.TV’s highlights. He literally stole a base hit or an extra base hit from the Rays’ Dioner Navarro.
Baseball Tonight’s Buck Showalter had some praise for the Royal, saying with him in the corner outfield position puts him among the elite defensively at that position. Oh and national media, his last name is pronounced “duh-HAY-soos” with the accent on the middle syllable, not “duh-hay-SOOS” with the accent at the end. Mispronunciation is kind of a pet peeve of ours. While we’re at it, it’s “WA-keem SORE-ee-uh”, not “Joe-uh-KIM” or “Sore-eye-uh” or whatever.
Not to be completely overshadowed by DeJesus’ night, Mike Aviles also made an outstanding throw to first to help cut short the Rays rally in the eighth.And Mitch Maier* recorded six putouts in the first five innings in his first game in the big leagues this year.
*Maier went 1-for-4, recording his first hit in the Majors since he went 2-for-4 against Minnesota on September 28, 2006.
Speaking of Mike Aviles, he has hit safely in 13 of 14 games after having his career high 12-game hitting streak snapped two days ago…The Royals induced a double play from Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura in the fifth, his first of the season. He’d gone 392 at-bats without hitting into a double-play, which led the Majors…Joakim Soria (did you pronounce it correctly?) picked up his first save against the Rays last night, leaving Boston as the only American League team he hasn’t recorded a save against…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Mark Teahen is still stiff and out of the lineup again. Hopefully he will resume outside workouts tomorrow…Also from Trey: Hillman saw the rehab DVD for John Bale, who is starting for Omaha tonight. He said Bale’s velocity is not back to where is was but the arm action looks okay…Finally: John Buck shaved his head last night before the game, reportedly because Gil Meche said he’d stay locked in better if his catcher had a shaved head. Hillman said Meche, who did the shaving, wasn’t going to come anywhere near him with the clippers.
Minor League Notes:
Triple-A: Mike Aviles is still 5th in the Pacific Coast League in triples (six in 51 games), the leader, Tucson’s Tim Raines, Jr. has 11 in 98 games.
Double-A: Kila Kaaihue of Northwest Arkansas leads the Texas League in homers with 25 and is third in slugging percentage (.615) and RBI (71). He also leads the league with 79 walks and has 39 strikeouts in 87 games.
Single-A Advanced: The Wilmington Blue Rocks, or Runnin’ Rocks are tops in the Carolina League in stolen bases. They’ve stolen 200 bases in 102 games, 79 more than any other team in the league. They’ve broken a team record already, lead the league in walks (359) and have five of the top six base stealers in the CL. Derrick Robinson (pictured left) leads the league with 48 steals, followed by Jarrod Dyson at 33, Joseph Dickerson at 24, Winston Salem’s Paulo Orlando at 22 and Chris McConnell and Kurt Mertins at 21…Josh Johnson (11 SB) is third in the league with a .423 OBP and tied for second with 65 walks…Dickerson also leads the league in triples at 10
Single-A: Burlington, Iowa’s Adrian Ortiz leads the league with 128 hits in 99 games…Jason Taylor lead the Midwest League with 60 walks…Mike Moustakas’ 12 homers is tied for 11th, but the league leader only has 19 in the pitcher’s league. Two are tied for second at 16, five players have 14 and two more have 13, so he’s not far off the pace…David Lough is second in the League with nine triples…Alexander Caldera is fifth in the league with 113.1 IP.
Rookie League-Advanced: Burlington, North Carolina’s Kelvin Herrera is second with a 1.83 ERA in 34.1 IP. He also leads the Appalachian League in WHIP with a 0.84 mark.
Rookie League-Advanced: Idaho Falls’ Nicholas Francis has a .582 slugging percentage, which is fourth in the Pioneer League. He’s also fifth with a .978 OPS and first in triples with five…The Chukars also have some runners with three of the top five base stealers, including the leader, Patrick Norris who has 14 in 31 games. Norris also leads the league in walks with 23…Bryan Casey holds a 1.93 ERA which is second in the PL.
Rookie League: The Arizona Royals Jose Bonilla is fourth in the Arizona League with a .390 average, fifth with a .688 slugging percentage and fifth with a 1.129 OPS…Deivy Batista is fifth in doubles with eight…Deybi De La Cruz is tied for third (two tied at four) with three wins and is sixth in the league with a 2.73 ERA. He also has 26 K’s which is sixth and only one strike out behind teammate Carlos Fortuna who is tied for fifth.
Tonight’s lineup: Remember, Emerson Drive and Dan Quisenberry Bobbleheads tomorrow.
Today’s Official Game Notes.