Yes, it was the old Scott Baker problem for the Royals, though tonight's game also featured a new angle: the conquering return of Bobby Keppel.
Keppel, a St. Louis product, appeared in eight games for the Royals in 2006, starting six games. The fact that he made six starts signals something unsavory about the state of the Kansas City staff that season, surely. However, Keppel, a failed first round pick with the Mets in 2000, wasn't completely terrible as a Royal either. Through his first 29 innings he still had an ERA around 3.60, before the bottom fell out a little in his last two appearances. He finished with a 5.50 ERA, and essentially revealed himself to be Brian Bannister without the mojo. Of course he's ended up a Twin, they've cornered the market on non-descript white guys with all-American names and generic profiles who find ways to be effective: Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Nick Blackburn, etc etc. Reading Twins box scores is like stepping back into the world of Franklin W. Dixon.
Keppel had ended up in Minnesota's system, where he was playing alongside Justin Huber in Rochester. He'd only appeared once prior to tonight, but his scoreless 2.1 innings proved to be huge in a tight 2-1 game. Though he'd only thrown eight Major League innings since his random 2006 stint with the Royals, Keppel baffled his old team, and in so doing posted the second highest Twin-WPA of the game, behind Justin Morneau.
If I had to guess, I'd say that Keppel probably feels warmly towards Kansas City, as he picked up more per diem money there than anywhere else. Perhaps it was then a slightly bittersweet performance for him. Perhaps.
- Speaking of Brian Bannister, Banny had one of his better starts of the season: 7.0 IP, 6 Hs, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 1 ER. For whatever reason, Bannister invites all kinds of fetishism when it comes to the discussion of his game. First it was his braininess, with a dash of the father-son angle. A round of meta-sabermetic stuff followed. Then, there was the obsession with his day-night splits. I wonder what will be next?
- You can also add Bannister's comeback to the list of unexpected good things that have happened this season. The Royals haven't simply had a terrible string of injuries and bad luck. They've merely proven themselves to be, on balance, just a bad team overall.
- Is it just me or are the Royals particularly brutal offensively against the Twins? They had their chances tonight, and even drew 3 walks, which is a high number for a Royals-Twins game, but just couldn't get it done.
- I don't want to make too big of a deal out of it, but the David DeJesus pickoff was a moderately large moment in the game. Where would you set the odds on DDJ being traded at?