Unlike his predecessors in this series, Michael Pineda waited until the 5th inning to give up a run, and never seemed to get into any bases-loaded issues. Ichiro and Milton Bradley worked their hits and wheels to turn in a run caused by an RBI triple. It was nice to see Bradley fired up for something turning out well, rather than all the negativity that has been surrounding him so far this year. Although I have to say, his performance this year has already been far better than last year, especially offensively. I don’t have any fancy spreadsheets, but I know I’ve been surprised by his hitting this year. And that’s not knocking the folks with the fancy spreadsheets, I’m just saying that without that kind of information available to me personally, and with my continuing learning curve on FanGraphs, I have to go off what I’ve seen, and what I’ve seen I feel well and good about. My feelings are not scientific, I just know that I don’t get that terrified knot in my stomach like I used to last year. His defense is another story, but lately I’ll take what I can get.
With a tied game in the top of the 7th, Royals pitcher Jeff Francis was pulled and replaced by Blake Wood. With two men on base, Brendan Ryan pulled one out to mid-left field, right over the head of the Royals third baseman Wilson Betemit, successfully sending both runners in. A 3-1 lead, the first time for a while that we’ve had an actual lead without it being at the last minute…at least it sure feels that way. Around that point in the game, Michael Pineda was also pulled, and Jamey Wright was sent in with a lead to protect. Mentally, I cringed; but Wright held his own through the 8th, and we lucked out from a bad call at first. Normally, I might wonder if the bad call would have still allowed us the lead, but I don’t know that it would have made such a difference today.
Brandon League took the mound in the 9th. He managed a flyout, and then Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak combined to get League’s second out; only this time the umpire made the right call, amid a shower of protest from the crowd. With a man on, Wilson Betemit came up and slugged a pitch out into right center that neither Ichiro or Ryan Langerhans could get to in time, and the single sent the runner in for a one-run ball game. Brayan Pena was not able to save the Royals, however, and he grounded out to end the game.
It wasn’t a pretty game, and it wasn’t always terribly well-played, but right now results are all I’m particularly interested in, and a win is a win. Better to be 5-11 than 4-12. I guess. It’s the little things.
The Ms come back home to take on the Tigers this week, and I will be there for two games. My work is kindly letting me out at noon on Wednesday, and Tom “gets” to go to his first game of the season. I’m excited to show him the bullpen area, even though I know that his interest may likely be limited to the food they have down there now. That’s fine. Like I said, it’s the little things.