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Royals win 7-4, regain crucial bullpen pieces

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Luke Hochevar and Greg Holland made their returns today.

He's back!
He's back!
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

After a lengthy rain delay, the Royals took on the characteristics of that which causes a rain delay. A storm. They struck quickly, like lightning.

Kluber appeared not to have his best stuff at the beginning of the game. After a plunking of Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas punched a grounder just to Carlos Santana's right at first base. The image below shows the defensive alignment. An interesting question: If Moose hadn't been doing so well hitting against the shift, would the Indians have placed a defender in shallow RF? Would that defender have been able to reach that grounder? Would Moose still even be batting second? Food for thought.

indians defensive alignment

Regardless of hypotheticals, Brandon Moss misplayed Moose's grounder, which wasn't really a hard-hit ball. Gordon, who was jogging on his way to third, turned on the speed and scored as Moss' throw went to second base. Lightning struck. In a storm, thunder soon follows lightning.

After a Lorenzo Cain single, Eric Hosmer brought the thunder. Hosmer boomed a line drive just over the fence in center field. StatCast shows that Hosmer hit that ball at 113mph with a launch angle of 17 degrees--an exceptionally hard-hit line drive. Without having recorded an out, the Indians and Kluber already were down 4-0.

Unfortunately, Edinson Volquez couldn't find his command. In the top of the second inning, Volquez allowed a triple to Lonnie Chisenhall, who scored on a ground ball out. No more runs scored, but Volquez walked two batters in a row after David Murphy's RBI ground out. A harbinger of things to come. In the next inning, Volquez came unhinged and allowed four walks, two of which resulted in runs. After only three innings, Volquez had six walks and 78 pitches. A "gassed" bullpen after Duffy's shortened start last night was already warming up. Franklin Morales replaced Volquez in only the 4th inning with the score 4-3 Royals.

Both teams more or less settled down after that. The Royals scored a run off three singles in the 5th inning. Ryan Madson gave up his second home run of the season to Carlos Santana in the 7th. The Royals struck again in the bottom of the 7th with four straight hits, the last of which was an Omar Infante double producing two runs. Nice to see him hit something. It was fairly solid contact.

In his first game action since September of 2013, Luke Hochevar threw a wonderful 6th inning. He got two strikeouts and induced a ground ball. The radio broadcast was praising Hochevar's velocity; it was around 94-96 for his four seamer and sinker, and he threw some cutters and curveballs as well. If Hochevar is back to 2013 form, this bullpen just got a lot scarier.

Greg Holland also returned from the disabled list. Ned Yost mentioned that Holland doesn't need any ramp-up time and would be the closer if the situation arose. Holland had a 1-2-3 9th for the save.

In the end, Volquez had a rough outing, which taxed the bullpen again. Returnees helped hold down the fort, and Franklin Morales twirled an admirable two innings after Volquez faltered. The offense took advantage of a poor defense and shaky Kluber to BABIP their way to victory. Again. With a little power. Moustakas and Hosmer played like we all hoped they would. This seems like the recipe they've been using all season.

Hochevar, Herrera (soon), Davis, Holland? What's an opposing lineup supposed to do?