Game 76 (Sunday) + Minors Rewind: Royals Flush

000106471355_00f3f91cf5_z== Elias & Crew hold KC to zero XBH ==

It’s funny, but just a few weeks ago, everyone was writing off the Kansas City Royals, and concluding that their longstanding rebuilding project was a failure.

Boy, does this stuff seem familiar:

Of course, with perfect timing, the Royals went on a 13-2 run right immediately after those articles came out.  And, for a time, actually passed seemingly inevitable Detroit for first place in the American League Central.  In the process, they turned the seemingly wide-open race for the Second Wild Card upside-down (the Tigers as a Wild Card?).

For the “rest of the pack” to claw the Second Wild Card race back into chaotic normalcy, it would take a team to stop KC in its tracks.

Maybe a team with:

  • GM with a prior reputation for scouting and player development
  • several years into a youth-based rebuild
  • suffering from inability to develop minor league talent
  • having its would-be stars struggle
  • relying too much on young talent all at once

So the mirror-images with different shades of blue went to battle, and it was the Mariners who emerged with Second Wild Card supremacy (or least a share):

AMERICAN W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10
LA Angels 41 33 .554 23-14 18-19 350 308 +42 Won 3 5-5
Baltimore 39 35 .527 16-17 23-18 313 304 +9 Won 2 6-4
NY Yankees 39 35 .527 17-18 22-17 297 327 -30 Lost 2 6-4
Seattle 40 36 .526 17-20 23-16 301 264 +37 Won 3 6-4
Kansas City 39 36 .520 .5 18-19 21-17 311 297 +14 Lost 4 6-4
Cleveland 37 39 .487 3 23-15 14-24 336 362 -26 Lost 3 4-6
Minnesota 36 38 .486 3 19-17 17-21 316 332 -16 Won 4 5-5

===

At the head of the Royal Flushing parade was Roenis Elias, who continued his improvisational madness with 6.2 IP and only five singles (1 ER).

While Elias’ curveball has been an emerging weapon, on Sunday it was the change.  Royals swung at it 12 times and whiffed on 7.  Elias can go to one or the other depending on what’s working.

Then the bullpen came in and threw 29 pitches, 21 strikes.

Fernando Rodney gave up his traditional baserunner, just to keep him interested, before winding it up with a three-pitch strikeout.

===

At the plate it was Zuumball! A double and then a home run from Mike Zunino (besides winning the game) brought his OPS up over .700.

It’s almost all from ISO (.196), though, as (amazingly) he has zero walks in June and only 9 all year (vs. 74 K [ouch!]).

His OBP is 12 points below his BABIP (which requires studious non-walking), and, in June, it’s 74 points lower.  But he’s managed to contribute anyway.

At some point he ought to rediscover some of the walks he had in the minors, in which case — watch out.

  • Baseball-reference.com boxscore here.

===

Daily Prospect-palooza

  • Mariners affiliates scoreboard here.
  • Tacoma won in the bottom of the 10th when Ty Kelly walked (that’s his thing), and Nick Franklin brought him home with a single (after a wild pitch).
  • Rehab fever!  Corey Hart: 2-for-4; Justin Smoak: 1-for-3; Michael Saunders: 1-for-5, triple.
  • Jackson also provided bonus baseball, winning in the 11th with a key double from Daniel Paolini.  Earlier, Patrick Kivlehan had delivered a three-run shot.
  • It was the AA debut for Tyler Pike, the promising young lefty starter.  Pike was solid but continued his recent problems with walks:  5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
  • DEEEEEJ!  High Desert didn’t need extra frames, since it took hold of the game with five in the top of the 9th, mostly coming on a three-run blast from D.J. Peterson.  It was No. 17 for Deej, moving him into a tie with Jabari Blash for the organizational lead.  Earlier, he had his 23rd double and also a walk.
  • Everett piled up six runs in the 7th inning, with Wilton Martinez delivering a two-run blast.
  • Pulaski was shut out, wasting a pretty good start from 2013 draftee Troy Scott (5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K).
  • In Arizona, 11th-round high school pick Jeremiah Muhammad made his pro debut in relief, and struggled: 1.0 IP, 2 ER.
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