Royals SWEEP! Greinke better, but still not very good

"Alberto call the pitch. Zack throw the pitch."

That was Zack Greinke's philosophy tonight, which he revealed in his post-game interview. So did it work?

Ehhh, not so much. Greinke was definitely better tonight (which was probably inevitable in the wake of what might be the worst performance ever by a Royals starter), but he still was not very good. And he sure looked different. Rather than mixing speeds, as he did so effectively last year, Greinke consistently worked in the low 90s today, even dialing his fastball up to 95 mph at one point, which we believe was the hardest pitch he's thrown in the majors.

The increased velocity certainly made his fastball more effective tonight, but it came at the expense of his control. Though Zack "only" walked two in his five innings of work, he was still consistently missing his catcher's target, and leaving pitches out over the plate. Once again, his only consistently effective pitch was his slow curve, which he threw with greater frequency than we've ever seen before. If he continues to throw that pitch as often as he has been, it will eventually lose its effectiveness, as hitters will be able to anticipate it.

I don't know. Perhaps we're being too negative. If you had told us prior to the game that Greinke's line would be 5.0 IP and 3 ER, we would have gladly taken it. There may be no quick solution to Greinke's problems, so perhaps we shouldn't expect one and instead acknowledge and be happy about the fact that he was indeed better. But we're still just waiting for last year's Greinke to show up...the one who worked the corners with precision while masterfully changing speeds like a veteran.

  • OK, enough of the negativity. Allow us to make up for it by pointing this out -- when Buddy Bell took over the Royals, our boys had lost 10 of their previous 12 games. Since he has taken over, not only have we won 11 of 15, but the list of pitchers we've beaten is extremely impressive. Check this out:

    Pitchers KC has beaten in the last 15 games:

    Kevin Brown
    Randy Johnson
    Carl Pavano
    Pedro Astacio
    Kirk Rueter
    Jeff Fassero
    Brad Halsey
    Brandon Webb
    Jeff Weaver
    Brad Penny
    Derek Lowe

    You know, that's a pretty impressive list, a list that represents pretty much every type of pitcher that exists in baseball. The Royals have beaten sinkerballers, hard throwers, crafty lefties, and everything in between, all without missing a beat. Buddy Bell now stands at 11-4 as Royals skipper, and the Royals are playing great baseball. If you can't get excited about that, then there's definitely something wrong with you.

  • We heard on the radio that the Royals tonight became the first team in history to sweep both the Yankees and Dodgers in the same month. On its face, that sounds pretty impressive, but we wonder how many teams have actually faced both of those teams in the same month. Seeing how interleague play is a relatively new phenomena, we wouldn't be surprised if the class of teams who have actually played both in the same month is nearly as small as the class that has swept them. But it's still a pretty cool statistic.

  • Billy Butler has still not returned to the High Desert lineup, but there's still some encouraging news from the minors. Justin Huber went 3-for-5 tonight with a double, raising his average to .335, and Mike Aviles hit his ninth HR of the season. Folks, RC got a good look at Aviles last season in Wilmington, and we determined then that the only thing truly holding him back was his power. At the time, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to us, as Aviles is built like a brick -- the man has forearms like Popeye. Sure, he hit a lot of doubles, but he had yet to turn an acceptable proportion of those doubles into homers -- he hit only six all year last season.

    Well, it appears that the power has arrived. Aviles is really mashing the ball right now, and it's going to force the Royals to take notice. Yes, the Texas League is much more of a hitter's league than the Carolina League, but the progress Aviles has made cannot be ignored, nor can it be explained away by park or league factors. Aviles has continued to improve, and right now RC projects that he will be in KC as soon as Tony Graffanino is traded.

  • Tomorrow's pitching matchup is one of the most exciting of the season. J.P. Howell in 2004 broke Roger Clemens' two year UT strikeout record, and we're sure that Clemens will be looking for some revenge. RC will be glued to the Official Royals Corner television at RC Headquarters.

    At 6/17/2005 3:47 PM, Anonymous gbrettfan said...

    Gotta love the recent run of positive direction from our Royals! I know everyone is saying it doesn't matter why we're suddenly winning under Bell, but that it should be enjoyed. I agree, and am sure this is a pretty normal reaction to a midseason mgr change. But, I just can't let it go as to what could be so different regarding the mgr. One thing I never see dissected is the communication factor of Pena versus Bell. Now, this is not some shallow, racist rant. This is simply an observation of communication within a "company", like the royals. I've no idea to the nuances of a big league clubhouse, but the division between the latin and north american players was touched on around the time pena sprinted in the kc star. I also read that Lima said not many guys speak spanish on the big club, that they're loud, but the best ballplayers come from the dominican these days, so they better deal with it. On our 40 man roster we currently carry 7 guys from the Dominican, and Gotay is from Puerto Rico. Some of the Dominican guys speak little to very little English. I know Silverio is from the DR, which should help. I don't know if Bell speaks any Spanish, but surely he does. My point is how much communication leadership did Pena exude to the non-Latin players? I know Pena is a baseball man, which can translate in many ways without eloquent understanding of a language. But, the leaders in the clubhouse are all native English speakers. The Latin players have no experienced leaders (I think Lima is a motivational guy, not a leader) in the rank and file clubhouse. Could it be the communication factor within the Royals is now much stronger with Bell in charge?

    At 6/17/2005 3:54 PM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

    Did anyone see Lima sing the anthem before this game? He was actually very good. If you can link some video of it somehow, you really should. Lima is an entertainer first and pitcher second!

    As much as anything, I'm posting to keep the streak alive. I honestly can't remember that last time the Royals played this kind of consistantly good baseball. (Maybee the string of games McRae managed just before the '94 strike?)

    The 16-3 start in '03 was impressive, but they won some magical games. This team seems to win on rock solid play and not flukes.

    At 6/17/2005 5:12 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    Brian, there is definitely something to that. The types of wins we've been seeing lately are not of the flukey variety. They are solid wins in which the Royals have clearly outplayed their opponents.


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