Kris Bubic cast a spell to turn back time against the Cleveland Guardians tonight. The lefty has struggled all season long, but in his final start of the year he much more closely resembled the pitcher of last season - at least in results.
There are two commonly accepted facts about Kris Bubic:
- He’s better when he’s pushing his fastball velocity up to 93-95 than when he’s allowing it to hover at 90-91
- Even if he’s got his fastball working, he’s probably going to live and die by his changeup.
Kris pushed his velocity up, tonight, but his changeup was very nearly missing in action. Instead, he fed the Guardians a steady diet of fastballs up and curveballs all over the place. The Guardians were behind the fastball all night and often frozen by the curveball, but swung and missed at it a couple of times, too.
Bubic ended up only pitching five innings but struck out a season-high eight while walking only one. He was doing alright, but throwing way too many pitches through the first two innings. After he gave up a leadoff double in the bottom of the third, though, he turned things up a notch. He struck out the next two batters on three pitches each before inducing a weak looping liner to Michael Massey. Only two more batters reached against him and both were erased on double play balls. Had he pitched like that from the start, he might have been able to six or even seven innings.
Hopefully, Kris can spend the whole off-season with the team figuring out what went right in this start and how it can be even better next time. If Bubic can next year make a leap similar to the one Brady Singer made this season, it would go a long way to making the Royals seem like a viable playoff team in the near future.
On the hitting side, the Royals had twelve hits and six went for extra bases. Their first run scored after a wind-aided pop-up double for MJ Melendez, a deep flyball by Bobby Witt Jr. and a single by Salvador Perez. They added three more the next inning off of Cleveland starter Zach Plesac when Drew Waters, Kyle Isbel, and Melendez ripped three straight doubles into the right field corner with two outs. None of those runs were earned because Hunter Dozier, who scored the first run, had reached on an error by the Guardians’ Gabriel Arias who was at third.
Waters added a solo shot in the sixth, Salvy went deep in the seventh, and then MJ Melendez scored the final run in the eighth by racing home from third when Sebastian Rivero struck out and the ball bounced away.
- Bubic’s win tonight marks his first career win against Cleveland.
- Waters’ home run was his fourth career bomb, but his first while batting right-handed.
- Salvy was 4-for-4 tonight but came out after hitting his home run. A camera shot in the dugout showed that he seemed to be in some kind of pain. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.
- Bobby Witt extended his career-best hitting streak to thirteen games.
- The Royals had the six hardest-hit balls in this game and nine of the ten hardest-hit balls. Five of those balls went for outs, however, thanks to a very strong wind blowing in from right field which visibly affected batted balls all night long.
The Royals will play gave three of this season-ending, six-game set tomorrow. Max Castillo will take the mound for the Boys in Blue. Shane Bieber will pitch for the Guardians. The game will start at 12:40 PM CDT.