Royals Rumblings - News for October 16, 2015
Writing for Grantland, Rany Jazyerli marvels at Johnny Cueto's performance.
Last night, Cueto pitched like Johnny Cueto. He went eight innings. He allowed two baserunners: a second-inning infield single that easily could have been scored an error, followed on the next pitch — his only pitch out of the stretch all night! — by a Luis Valbuena home run that had all Royals fans fearing the worst, for both Cueto and the team. Cueto retired the next 19 batters in a row, becoming the first AL pitcher to retire his last 19 batters in a playoff contest since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956.
If Cueto had pitched brilliantly for two months after the trade but simply had an off-day or two during the ALDS — basically, if the Royals had traded for David Price instead — their season might be over. Instead, Cueto followed the worst two-month stretch of his career with a near-perfect outing in the most important game he’s ever pitched.
August Fagerstrom at Fangraphs writes about how Johnny Cueto was able to amp up the velocity, setting up his off-speed pitches.
Last night, Cueto’s average first-inning fastball was 93. His second-inning fastball was 93. In the third, 94. In the fourth, 94. Cueto ensured that the Astros weren’t able to jump on him early, and held his dominance over the course of eight innings....
This is the part where I point out that Cueto threw the Astros a season-low number of changeups in Game 1. Last night, he threw a similarly-low rate his first time through the order, while he hammered away with his revitalized fastball. Once he’d gotten the Astros geared up for 94 early, he returned to vintage-Cueto, throwing his lethal changeup late in counts with success. Three of Cueto’s eight strikeouts came on the changeup, and he used it to get four of his final six outs.
Jeff Passan writes that Dayton Moore's gambles have paid off this fall.
Baseball offers redemption like no other sport, its games a daily opportunity to right past wrongs. The Astros fumbled their chance at it after blowing a 6-2 lead in the eighth inning of Game 4. And not only did Cueto compensate for his mediocrity and outfielder Alex Rios render moot a year of middling play with a two-run go-ahead double in the fifth inning that gave Kansas City a 3-2 lead it wouldn't cede, the Royals themselves earned another chance to do what they couldn't last year: win the franchise's first World Series since 1985 after a loss in the seventh game last season.
"I haven't gotten over Game 7 last year," Royals owner David Glass said. "I'm still struggling with that. This year we believed we had a chance to do it and do it right and fix what we didn't get done last year. We collectively said, 'Let's go for it.' "
Vahe Gregorian says the resiliency is all about clubhouse chemistry.
"Without a doubt," Yost said as he sat in the dugout at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday afternoon. "You’ve got to have talent first, above everything else. But if you have talent and chemistry, then you have something special. "When the chemistry is right, nobody cares who gets the credit, you know?"
Chemistry, of course, is an ambiguous notion, and there are any number of teams who have succeeded without it and plenty who haven’t with it. No doubt Houston had its own distinct sense of that, and surely Toronto does, too. Just the same, to watch the animated Royals on the field or be around their interaction in the clubhouse is to understand a certain sense of connection that bench coach Don Wakamatsu puts like this:
"I don’t know if anybody can physically describe it," he said. "It’s more of a feeling of walking in a room and knowing guys have your back; it’s a special thing."
Craig Edwards at Fangraphs writes about Alex Rios, the unlikely hero
Rios is not the reason the Royals made the playoffs, and he’s not really the reason that the team is advancing to the American League Championship Series for the second straight season. He was in the right place at the right time. He earned his spot on the club through well deserved past successes, and despite a disappointing season, he had earned the trust of his manager to hit in that spot. On the spectrum of professional baseball players, Rios is on the low end, but he is still a professional and it afforded him the opportunity to get a key hit in an important playoff game. Success is a blend of luck and skill, and it is often difficult to tell how much is the former and how much is the latter, but for Rios and the Royals, the percentages don’t matter, only the result.
Jerry Crasnick writes that Edinson Volquez was candid about the challenges he faces tonight.
Royals Game 1 starter Edinson Volquez was very entertaining in the ALCS media room today. When asked how he's going to pitch to Josh Donaldson after their regular season run-in, Volquez replied, "He's a great hitter. I'm going to stick with the plan. I don't know what the plan is right now."
Eric Hosmer says that Lance McCullers "learned his lesson" after his neck cut gesture.
Statcast covers Alex Gordon's Game Five catch.
Doug Padilla at ESPN says the Royals and Jays should be a terrific ALCS.
Tim Kurkijian thinks this ALCS could be a classic, much like the '85 series.
Ken Rosenthal writes that the ugly trash-throwing scene by Blue Jays fans on Wednesday can't happen again.
Danny Parkins of 610 KCSP hangs up on NFL-Insider Jason LaCanfora because of his anti-Royals sentiments.
The Toronto Star gives advice to bandwagoners on how to fake being a Blue Jays fan.
Does the Jose Bautista bat-flip mark a turning point in acceptance of Latino culture in baseball?
Russell Carleton at Just a Bit Outside asks if we really need divisions in baseball.
Kansas is ranked fifth in the first college basketball coach's poll.
The latest Breaking Madden is here, much to the dismay of Ryan Tannenhill.
The aunt her sued her 8-year old nephew for a surprise hug quickly lost her court case.
The way we use social security numbers is absurd.
Some McDonald's franchises aren't thrilled about all-day breakfast.
Your song of the day is James Brown with "Living in America."