It is not breaking news that when a major league level hitter faces the starting pitcher for the third time that night, they are statistically more likely to have success off of that pitcher. It is also not breaking news that Mike Minor is known for starting well then throughout the game getting hit around more because of the previously mentioned reason.
Alright, so how did we get here to lead a recap with bullpen management?
Well, Mike Minor did start the game pretty well. After a quick first inning, Tyler Stephenson led off the second inning with a double that tipped off the top of Hansel Alberto’s glove at third. Joey Votto followed that with a single that moved Stephenson to third. Eugenio Suarez rolled over into a double play that scored the Red’s first run of the game.
The Royals offense responded in the bottom of the third evening the score at 1-1 thanks to an old fashion, get him on, get him over and get him in.
Nicky Lopez led off the inning with a double to the right field wall. Whit moved him to third with a sacrifice fly to right field. Then to get Lopez home, Carlos Santana drove a gapper for a double of his own.
After that single by Votto,, Minor only faced one more than the minimum through the 6th inning. The exception was a two-out walk to Aristides Aquino in the 5th.
Still tied in the bottom of the sixth, Santana started the inning off with a walk (shocker). Salvador Perez then moved Santana to second on a single to left. After an O’Hearn line out, Jorge Soler came up big with a double, scoring Santana. Sadly, that is all the Royals would get despite having runners on second and third with one out.
Now the top of the 7th is where the debate tonight and tomorrow morning will be talked about throughout the Kansas City metro (and I’m sure in the comments below).
The photo below shows Mike Minor’s numbers against opposing hitters each time through the batting order this season. (Baseball Reference)
Now, the numbers first time through are about what you would expect, but that is not what we’re discussing here. His numbers two times through the order and three times through the order are similar if not better third times through than the second time through. But for a starting pitcher whose job is to eat innings; not great.
What this photo does not display is the fact that the Red’s are third in the MLB in runs in the 7th inning or later, led by their All-Star starting right fielder Nicholas Castellanos.
Well, as you can expect the decision by Mike Matheny to keep Minor in for the 7th to face the Red’s 3-4-5 hitters did not end up in the Royals’ favor.
Castellanos’ drove the first pitch over the left field fence to tie the game at 2. Minor followed the solo shot with back-to-back walks to Stephenson and Votto with still no outs.
This was enough for Matheny who brought on Kyle Zimmer to get the Royals out of the jam. And with a 1-1 count Eugenio Suarez hit a no doubter to the Royals Hall of Fame giving the Reds a 5-2 lead, finishing Minor’s outing allowing four runs through 6+ innings.
The Reds added another run in the ninth off Ervin Santana thanks to a leadoff triple to Aquino and then scored on a single by Tyler Naquin.
Unfortunately, the Royals’ offense did not respond to the two Cincinnati home runs to fall 6-2 in game 1 of a 3 game series.