The temptation is to write that this is how it had to end, that the Royals would only break the losing streak after hitting rock bottom yesterday, doing so when nobody expected them to do so. Of course, if the Royals had won yesterday, it would have also made sense, since only Greinke could stop the streak. Moreover, if you think more about the improbability angle, the better candidate would be tomorrow's series finale, when the Royals face off against Roy Halladay. That's the thing about these little sports pyscho-narratives that get constructed by fans, media, even the players themselves: they're even flimsier and more weighted down by mumbo-jumbo than our similar attempts to explain more important things, things that actually impact our lives. I say this even as a proud English major: narrative is a lousy tool for understanding life.
Still, today's game was a little unexpected joy, one made sweeter by the number of strong performances which undergirded it.
Luke Hochevar (6.2 IP, 2 Rs, 4 Hs, 3 BBs, 6 Ks) had his best start of the year in his first trip back to the mound since his demotion to Omaha. It's funny, when Hochevar came up the first time and struggled, there were lots of comments about how his failings prove that my sort didn't know what we were talking about, and how the Royals were right all along to
game his arb-clockerr "have him work on things in Omaha". Returning to the narrative theme, I suppose we should now write that he "responded to some tough love" this time around or somesuch. It can never just be about the game or about the varieties of individual performance.
- Kyle Farnsworth pitched a scoreless eighth along with retiring the final batter in the seventh. Although the score was 6-2 and the Jays' chance of winning somewhere around 3%, in baseball-land this was one of those little gestures of symbolic import, a sign that Farnsworth's exile had been ended. The man hasn't allowed a run since April 19th, which is mildly frustrating since the entirety of that streak has come in garbage time. My prediction: he allows his next run soon.
- Rounding off the pitching performances was Joakim Soria's clean ninth inning, step two in his comeback from injury. Do you know how many times Soria has pitched in either a tie-game or a one-run game this season? Once. Jamey Wright, by the way, has done so seven times. As Joe Sheehan would say, bullpen management is completely broken.
- Offensively, our champions this afternoon were Mark Teahen and Willie Bloomquist, with nobody else really even close. (Only Callaspo and Pena also managed positive WPAs.) Teahen's homer and Bloomquist's (two-out) triple were easily the biggest plays of the game. A hearty Royals Review salute to both of them.