Results tagged ‘ Luke Hochevar ’
Tomorrow the Cardinals invade Kansas City and Kauffman Stadium. It’s going to be another big weekend out at the K and Saturday is nearly a sellout already and both Friday and Sunday’s tickets are going fast.
But before we start getting worked up on this beautiful off day in Kansas City, let’s get a few things straight.
Here’s what we know. The Royals and the Twins are the hottest teams in baseball, both having won 10 of their last 11 (note: Minnesota currently trails San Diego in a Thursday matinee, 1-0, in the third inning). The Royals have the best interleague record (12-3 mark) which is half a game better than the Twins entering today. Yep, you can gloat a little.
Trey Hillman rightly brought us back down to earth when he said following last night’s win that it was a “step” and said we need to focus on continuing to take baby steps. He’s right, but today’s an off-day. Time to soak in the success of the past two weeks and look forward to what promises to be a wild weekend here at Kauffman. Let’s fill the K will blue and drown out the red.
Let’s get in a quick pick-me-up before we focus in on St. Louis, and go around the horn…
The Royals have gone 11-2 since June 12, an .846 win percentage. They’ve shaved five and a half games off their division deficit and sit in fourth place, seven games back. We’ve won four series in a row for the first time since June of 2003 and already have clinched a winning mark in June.
On top of those four series wins, the Royals have won all five interleague series this season, squaring off against some tough foes including the Florida Marlins, who were in first place at the time back in May and sit just two games back in second now, the Arizona Diamondbacks who currently lead their division, the Wild Card-leading Cardinals, the third-place San Francisco Giants and the defending National League Champion Rockies.
With a low scoring game last night and the longest outing of Luke Hochevar’s career, we want to talk some more pitching. Royals starters have been impressive in interleague play and during this hot stretch. They’ve gone deep into games, averaging 6.2 innings a game during interleague play and 6.1 innings over the last 10. No surprise, they are 11-1 with two no decisions in interleague this season and 8-0 with two no decisions over the last 10 games. Going deep also keeps the bullpen fresh and effective. Just ask opponents how fresh and effective Joakim Soria has been (he has six saves in the last 10 games).
Hochevar earned his fifth big league win last night, going eight innings and throwing just 95 pitches. The sinkerballer recorded lot and lots of groundball outs last night, and is now fourth among American League pitchers with at least 13 starts with a 1.97 groundball/fly ratio. To explain that a bit more literally, Hochevar recorded 24 outs last night. He recorded 17 ground outs and three fly outs (along with three strikeouts and a caught stealing). That equals a groundball percentage of 85 (17 out of 20 outs put into play came on the ground).
If that was over your head, just remember, the key to Hochevar’s success is to keep the ball down. He’s a sinkerballer and wants groundballs.
The Cardinals Albert Pujols came off the disabled list to play for St. Louis today, allowing the former Fort Osage High standout to make a homecoming this weekend…Royals pitchers on the D.L., Leo Nunez and John Bale, might be coming off shortly after the All-Star break, although they still haven’t thrown off the mound yet…Joakim Soria has 21 saves and KC’s pre-All-Star break record is 25 (Jeff Montgomery in 1993)…he has nine saves in the month of June alone…Mr. Clutch, David DeJesus leads the Majors with a .451 batting average with runners in scoring position, 29 points higher than Cleveland’s Casey Blake.
The Silverstein Eye Center “Eye”-70 Series is moving west this weekend. To steal a Dodgers’ slogan: “Think Blue.” With three games on the line, we want Kauffman to be coated in blue. Don’t wear you’re white or gray or pink or mauve or whatever Royals jerseys and T-shirts. Opt for the blue alternates. Break out the powder blues, the Gil Meche T-shirt Tuesday shirts from last year. Whatever blue you’ve got, wear it.
We swept the Cards for the first time in St. Louis last week and we’re looking to keep it going. The Royals won 2 of 3 last season at Kauffman with a memorable moon-shot by Alex Gordon into the right field fountains. The Royals need just one win to secure a win in the season series after splitting last year. A second sweep this season would put the interleague series at 25-26, making next year very interesting.
Like we mentioned yesterday, plenty of promotions going on this weekend and tickets are going fast. Friday is also a silent auction to benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation. In honor of Art Stewart being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night, keep an eye out for our second Touch ’em All interview on this blog, with an exclusive look into John Martin’s world. John is the man who has painted every Royals Hall of Fame portrait to date as well as numerous Royals media guide covers and much more. So look for that right here on Around the Horn.
Enjoy the off-day and continue to think blue.
As the Royals continue to roll, they continue to work on fundamentals. Back in Spring Training, Trey Hillman established that the basics are what this team would focus on, doing the little things right.
To find out what little things the Royals are doing now and how they are contributing to their current run of success, we go around the horn…
Two plays stand out from last night’s game that help illustrate that point. Up by three, Miguel Olivo smashed a double into the right field corner, driving home Jose Guillen who was charging hard from second. Olivo beat the throw from Matt Holliday with a slide into second. The hit ended an 0-for-21 slide for the Royals catcher. What was the key of the at bat? Olivo saw 10 pitches. Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis had nothing new left to throw to Olivo. So he threw a pitch Olivo had already seen and Olivo made him pay. Francis left the game and the Royals continued to roll.
Alex Gordon deserves some props for some solid defense in the top half of the fifth. Gordon was able to turn two by simply being aware of the runner on base. Chris Iannetta was on third and Willy Taveras hit a hard bouncer straight at Gordon. Iannetta froze, like most players would, to see where the ball was going. By the time he started to turn, Gordon had quickly applied the tag and fired the ball across to first baseman Ross Gload. Gordon helped out his pitcher Brian Bannister hold down the damage and quickly put the Royals in a more manageable situation with two outs and one runner on base.
Both plays were small in comparison to the 8-4 final score, but take them away and who knows what might have happened.
The team is having fun right now. Of course, winning will do that. But in the Royals’ eighth, Ross Gload hit his first homer since the beginning of September last year. The bench let him know when he got back. Normally the home run hitter finds a dugout full of high-fives awaiting his return. Gload found silence and no one really paying attention to him. The whole bench stiffed him and he was left hanging. But only for a few seconds. The team burst into laughter and Gload got his credit.
Today after a regular pitcher’s fielding practice (PFP) session, about 10 players along with Trey Hillman and Bob McClure started playing a quick-throw game of catch. “The Play-Catch” drill, as MLB.com reported earlier this season, is designed to work on the most basic fundamentals of the game, throwing and catching the baseball. Players scatter around the infield dirt and fire the ball to one-another as quickly as possible. There is no set pattern to throw in. The only rules, don’t drop it, throw as quickly as you can and try not to hit the guy standing on the mound in the head. The infielders played it earlier this season and went nine or 10 minutes without dropping the ball in the fast-paced game.
Today was the pitchers turn. They didn’t last as long, but they seemed to be having fun. And so were the onlookers. Catcher John Buck could be seen just smiling and shaking his head watching the drill near the first base line, while Miguel Olivo stood near the dugout counting
as each ball was caught and laughing as the pitchers scooped and fired. Infielders, for the most part, try not to put any movement on the balls they throw. However, pitchers want life. That can make a throwing drill a little complicated when 6-foot-5 sinkerballer Luke Hochevar lets one fly. Trey Hillman bent and caught one at his ankles and with a smile, yelled “Hoch is throwin’ sinkers over here.”
Over the last ten games, the Royals are 8-2…It’s no coincidence that David DeJesus and Mike Aviles continue to be an offensive force, scoring 18 runs, totaling 28 hits (15 for extra bases, with five being homers) and knocking in 20…The Royals claimed right-handed pitcher Robinson Tejeda off waivers from the Rangers this afternoon, moving John Bale to the 60-day D.L. to make room on the 40-man with another move imminent on the 25-man when Tejeda joins the team, probably tomorrow…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-press conference: Mark Grudzielanek is still out with a sore back and is day-to-day…Trey’s assessment on the Royals’ newest pitcher in two words: power arm.
We covered Joakim Soria yesterday but failed to mention that he’s a “cover boy”. Soria is on the cover of Royals Gameday Magazine from June 20 to July 23. Gameday is sold throughout Kauffman Stadium or by calling 1-800-6-Royals and is a monthly 128-page magazine containing insight and inside information on the Royals.
Tonight is the middle game of the Rockies series and a special note should be made that this is their first-ever trip to Kansas City. As we mentioned yesterday, manager Clint Hurdle and bench coach Jamie Quirk are Royals alums. Quirk is a Kansas City resident in the offseason and Hurdle is making his first trip back to K.C. since 1981.
We bring them up again because Quirk is also making an appearance in Gameday this month, under the feature about a Royals alum.
Question for you all tonight… Which Royals alum are you curious about?
Today’s Official Game Notes.
The sweep is complete. And now the Royals are on to bigger things. Like Giant things. Sorry, we had to throw at least one cheesy Giants joke in here and, we apologize, there may be more.
Tonight is the Kansas City Sky Show which is being co-hosted by 99.7 The Boulevard. It’s going to be the largest fireworks show in Kansas City history. To give some perspective, the Marketing Department said it will be five times as large as the Royals regular Friday Night Fireworks Spectacular, which as all of you know, is typically really spectacular. They are planning on 30 minutes, on-field pyrotechnics and special CrownVision videos. Should be fun and get people really in the mood for the Fourth of July
But back to the sweep, and for that let’s go around the horn…
Zack Greinke threw seven innings yesterday and it was the sixth consecutive “quality” start for the Royals (all five starters have posted a win over those six games with Greinke getting a no decision last Friday when the Royals lost 1-0 in the 10th.) Greinke gave up only two hits to the Cardinals. Unfortunately, Rick Ankiel made him pay for a mistake in the fourth. But Greinke shut the Redbirds down, giving up only one other hit, walking just one and striking out seven.
The rotation has a 1.91 ERA in the last 6 games, allowing just 9 runs in 42 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .216 and have struck out 33 times in the six-game streak. Ankiel’s homer yesterday is the only one they’ve allowed over the last week. With pitching like that, it’s no surprise we’ve won 5 in a row and 6 of 7.
Tonight’s starter Luke Hochevar began the Royals current five-game winning streak last Saturday. Hochevar, the Royals’ top pick in 2006, is looking to even out his record, as he’s currently 4-5 this season. But all four wins have come against some big names. For his first career win, he beat the owner of the second best ERA in the A.L., Shawn Marcum. C.C. Sabathia, last year’s A.L. Cy Young winner was his second victim. Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander was the next to fall. And then Luke beat the Big Unit, future Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson.
That foursome has a combined 451 career wins… Hochevar has four, but counting.
It’s no surprise the Royals have hit 25 of their season total 51 homers in the last 18 games and have gone 10-8 in that span… All three of the Royals’ wins in St. Louis featured homers in the eighth inning or later with a two-run blast by Mark Teahen yesterday, a pair of homers by Alex Gordon and David DeJesus on Wednesday and a game-winner by Mike Aviles in the series opener…The Royals are 7-2 against the National League this season with 9 interleague games remaining – all at Kauffman…From Manager Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Joakim Soria’s availability, after recording saves the last three days is a game time decision.
Don’t forget about the other two great promotions this weekend with the Alex Gordon Bobblehead and the Salute to the Negro Leagues Day on Sunday when the Royals will be giving out Kansas City Monarchs caps.
The Royals will be dressed as the Monarchs and the Giants will become the San Francisco Seals. The day will also feature a Negro Leagues event outside the stadium with former Negro Leaguers on hand to sign autographs.
It’s going be a Giant weekend in Kansas City…We had to do it.
Here’s the Royals Official Game Notes. Please note the previous post about the sellout tonight at the K.
Yup, while we are all at The K watching Luke Hochevar and the Royals battle the Detroit Tigers at 7:10 p.m., Cook will be waiting for votes and watching the footage of his hometown visit to Kansas City including the visit to the stadium – where he threw out a first pitch and sang the seventh-inning stretch – and the pep rally at Blue Springs South High School where he met Royals mascot Sluggerrr (the newest pictures to add to our David Cook collection!).
So, in between innings – if you aren’t at the stadium, of course! – switch over and catch some of the Royals and Cook at The K on “American Idol.”
Go Royals…and go David Cook!