Monday, June 30, 2014

Game of the Day (6/29/14)

Royals 5, Angels 4. LA's CJ Wilson took on KC's Jeremy Guthrie. Both pitchers are relatively recent free agent acquisitions - one hyped, the other all but unnoticed. But they've pitched with fairly similar levels of effectiveness for their current teams.

Guthrie did not get off to the finest of starts, allowing a leadoff homer to Kole Calhoun in the top of the first. Mike Trout followed with a single, and two outs later, Erick Aybar hit into a Lorenzo Cain error that allowed Trout to score for a 2-0 lead. Cain led off the bottom of the first with a single, but was stranded. Omar Infante and Danny Valencia both singled in the home second, but Infante was thrown out trying for third on Valencia's hit, pulling the teeth of a potentially dangerous rally.

Calhoun reached on an Eric Hosmer error to start the third, and Trout drew a walk. Albert Pujols hit into a double play that moved Calhoun to third, and Josh Hamilton doubled to score him for a 3-0 lead. Kansas City threatened in the third when Cain doubled and Billy Butler walked, but didn't score until the bottom of the fourth. Salvador Perez was hit by a pitch to start the inning, Infante doubled, and Valencia singled in the first Royal run of the day. Alcides Escobar walked to load the bases, and one out later, Cain doubled in a pair of runs to tie the game. Hosmer lined out, Butler was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Alex Gordon drew a walk as well to force in the go-ahead run. That base on balls spelled the end of Wilson's outing; Cory Rasmus replaced him and retired Perez to end the inning.

Hank Conger led off the fifth with a bunt single, but Calhoun hit into a double play. KC threatened in the bottom of the inning with a single by Escobar and a walk to Jarrod Dyson, but Escobar was then caught stealing third to end the inning, and Aybar homered in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 4. Cain led off the bottom of the sixth with a double, but his teammates failed to advance him.

With two outs in the seventh, Guthrie allowed singles to Conger and Calhoun and walked Trout to load the bases. Kelvin Herrera replaced Guthrie and retired Pujols to end the inning. Kevin Jepsen was perfect in the bottom of the seventh. Wade Davis and Jepsen both allowed the leadoff man to reach in the eighth (a Hamilton walk and an Escobar single, respectively), but both prevented him from advancing past first, keeping the tie in place.

Greg Holland retired the Angels in order in the top of the ninth. LA put in Jason Grilli, who was acquired earlier in the week in an exchange of struggling closers with the Pirates, on the mound in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Grilli hit Gordon with a pitch. Perez grounded to short, but Howie Kendrick failed to secure the ball to complete the force at second, and Infante followed with a single that scored Gordon with the winning run.

Despite his lack of involvement in the game-ending rally and his commission of a run-scoring error early on, Lorenzo Cain qualifies as the star of this one. He had the sixth four-hit game of his career (that number is larger than I was expecting), including three doubles (his first career game reaching that mark, although one of his prior four-hit games included two doubles and a homer). One of the doubles drove in two runs to tie the game, and another made Royal fans kick themselves; it came leading off an inning after Alcides Escobar had been caught stealing to end Cain's at bat early the inning before. It's a very nice way for him to end the first half of what looks like it may be a career year.

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