Starting another lap
The Royals are running, not on the base paths or away from opponents. But right at them…with their arms. The pitching is showing fans what they should be able to expect for several years with three 24-year olds, a second-year pitcher who drew Rookie of the Year consideration and a 2007 All-Star who’s signed for three more years after this one.
Gil Meche (the 2007 All-Star) went right after the Red Sox last night and the Royals won their third in a row and eighth in their last 11, dating back to Meche’s win on July 24 over Tampa Bay. To catch up with the rolling Royals rotation, let’s go Around the Horn…
The starters are starting their third lap around since the pitching surge began. Gil Meche has compiled three victories, allowed just four earned runs in 20 innings (1.80 ERA) and struck out 21 during his three turns. Meche’s win last night put him over .500 for the first time this season, thanks to his 7-1 record and a 2.66 ERA over his last 11 starts.
While Meche has been the horse, the rest of the rotation has done its work as well. Their composite record over the 11-game stretch is 7-2 with a 3.03 ERA. Meche, Zack Greinke, Kyle Davies, Luke Hochevar and tonight’s starter Brian Bannister have allowed 22 earned runs in 65.1 innings with 52 K’s.
Tonight Brian Bannister is looking to extend the stretch and get a win for himself. Bannister recorded a career-high for strikeouts last Wednesday in Oakland, but settled for a no decision in a game the team eventually won in extras. He’ll face a Boston team which fell one K short of its season high (13) last night.
Mike Aviles may not qualify for the official batting title, but he qualifies for the rookie title and he sits 30 points higher than any other first year player – in either league. The White Sox’ Alexei Ramirez entered today at .308 compared to Aviles’ .338.
With his honors as Royals player of the Month for July and Co-American League Player of the Week being announced yesterday, Aviles officially announced himself to the rest of the Majors. But he’s been hurting opponents for virtually all of his two-month career. Once he got his feet settled under him, he busted out.
As always, the League adjusted. He slumped briefly (his average never dropped below .273) and then he adjusted back. Around the Horn overheard hitting coach Mike Barnett talking about Aviles earlier today. He said he told Aviles what pitchers were doing to him to frustrate him by pounding him with fastballs inside and then getting him to chase sliders out of the zone, down and away. Barnett told Aviles to return to what he does best. Aviles went out the next day in Tampa and, in a 10th inning at bat, laid off three fastballs up and in. All were called for balls. He laid off another slider down and away which caught the plate for a strike. Then he made the Rays’ Dan Wheeler pay by depositing the next pitch – a mistake to Aviles’ power zone – into the stands.
Within a few days, Aviles was back to doing what he has established his does best, praying on opponent’s mistakes and spraying the ball all over the park.
The Royals were notified of their pending suspensions for Sunday’s incident with the White Sox. Zack Greinke and Miguel Olivo are both appealing their five-game suspensions…Manager Trey Hillman, however, will serve his one game suspension tonight. Bench coach Dave Owen will take his place at the Royals helm…Mike Aviles has scored at least one run in eight straight games…Joakim Soria has at least one save versus every American League team after picking up his 32nd of the season last night over Boston.
This week is the 16th annual Royals Blood Drive. Around the Horn is planning on donating Thursday during the team’s off day. Needles? We’re not scared of needles!
As for promotions this week, Larry Gura will be in town Saturday, both as a Bobblehead (it’s the giveaway that night) and in person (signing autographs from 4:30 to 5:15 on the Royals dugout). Then Sunday is Sluggerrr kids T-shirt day. Hope to see you out here.
Today’s Official Game Notes.