Matt Treanor Plays Hero. Again.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think the Matt Treanor trade was either that significant of a move or even a good one.

So far, I’ve been dead wrong.

On top of two excellent blocks at the plate to prevent runs, he had hit to tie the game on Saturday.  Then, on a day when he wasn’t even in the lineup, he becomes the hero by hitting a walkoff homer, the second such ending to a Royals game in this young season, and the third straight late-inning come from behind win.

Treanor came in to catch for Brayan Pena after he was removed for pinch runner Jarrod Dyson in the bottom of the eighth.  From there, he threw out Maicer Izturis in the top of the tenth on a steal attempt and drew a two out walk in the 11th.

And, oh, he took a Jason Bulger slider about 400 feet deep to left field to give the Royals a 12-9 win in 13 innings.  I have to avoid running this quip into the ground, but I love it when a plan comes together.*

*I also try to avoid the use of the Pozterisk, but this is very much worth noting.  I’ve referenced this quote twice now and should elaborate for some readers who don’t get the reference.  Matt Treanor uses the theme to the A-Team as his walkup music, which is one of those overlooked but immediately recognizable songs and is absolutely perfect for a batter’s walkup music – especially one like Treanor who is well-liked by nearly everyone, even if his offensive skills aren’t great.  He’s gritty in a way that out-Kendalls Jason Kendall.

Anyway, the quote is from John “Hannibal” Smith, the unflappable tactician of the A-Team who gets the crew out of trouble and says “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Maybe the joke’s better without explanation, but, oh well.

The win capped off a wild game that saw eight home runs and a complete meltdown by the Angels bullpen and lack of situational hitting by both sides.

It started out very promising, too.  The Royals jumped on starter Scott Kazmir right away, working him for over 30 pitches in the first inning, scoring two runs.  In the second, they kept the pressure on, getting a wind-assisted home from Melky Cabrera and a two-run double by Kila Ka’aihue.  At the start of the third inning, the Royals had chased Kazmir from the game and had a 5-0 lead.

Then the wind started to come into play.  Izturis homered to lead off the third, then Howie Kendrick added one of his own (both of which may have been aided by 25-35 mph winds).  Bruce Chen wasn’t hitting his spots very well, but the wind made it especially dangerous if he kept it up in the zone.  Kendrick added a second homer off Chen that went out to left despite jamming him badly.

Chen left with a 6-5 lead after five innings, but Sean O’Sullivan gave up a two run homer to Bobby Abreu in the seventh (Abreu reached base all seven times he came to the plate).  The Royals tied it up but then a single and double by Peter Bourjos and Izturis respectively gave the Angels the lead off Robinson Tejeda.  A ninth inning homer by Alberto Callaspo off Jeremy Jeffress in his debut gave the Angels a 9-7 lead going into the ninth.

Then it just got weird.

All series, the Angels bullpen had been shaky, but they were awful on Sunday.  Fernando Rodney came in to close the door, but walked Alex Gordon leading off.  Billy Butler smoked a ball to left – but it was caught by a leaping Izturis who tumbled backward on the play.  It was Rodney’s only out, as he walked Ka’aihue and even Jeff Francoeur (yes, THAT Francoeur).  Then on his next pitch, he got it up and Wilson Betemit drilled it to left for a double, scoring two and tying the game.

In extra innings, Joakim Soria worked a scoreless inning and the walks kept coming from the Angels, this time with Jason Bulger – their last reliever – walking the bases loaded.  He was fortunate that Betemit tried to advance to third on a wild pitch but was thrown out, or Treanor’s heroics may not have happened.

Tim Collins came in and shut down the Angels.  Every pitch was working.  He was mixing his 93 mph fastball with his curve and changeup, leaving the Angels baffled.  In three sharp innings, Collins struck out five, including Vernon Wells twice.  When they put it in play, the Angels got two singles, but otherwise hit a foul popup, an easy grounder to second and a double play from Betemit to Aviles to Gordon (who moved to first when Mitch Maier pinch ran for Butler).

That set up Treanor’s big hit.

Some little things from the game – the Royals were successful on all six of their stolen base attempts.  Chris Getz reached on an error in the 13th, stole second, then took an extra base on a grounder, going from second to third after being looked back by Callaspo.

The Royals are off Monday, but play the White Sox in a two game series on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Luke Hochevar gets his second start of the year on Tuesday.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Kansas City Royals KC Matt Treanor MLB Royals Tim Collins

  • jim fetterolf

    Good game, this bunch we have now doesn’t quit, they work hard every play. May be time to give our ‘commitment challenges’ a little break, take it one date, or game, at a time and enjoy what has been a good start. Things will get rocky, but might as well enjoy. The Royals are that chubby girl at last call at the bar and Royals’ fans shouldn’t be too proud to give her a chance. Not like we’re much of a catch, either:)

  • benjammin

    Engel, you suck at trying to be a writer. You just state the obvious. Dont quote Posnanski, that is an insult to him. No wonder no one visits this site anymore.

    • Kevin Scobee

      Our analytics would disagree, vehemently.

  • John

    I’m no WAR-ologist, but I’m pretty sure Matt Traenor has already had a better season in 2010 than Jason Kendall had in 2009.

    • Corey Ettinger

      WAR wouldn’t be a useful method of evaluation after just a couple games, but FWIW, he’s at 0.2 WAR so far – Kendall’s mark for all of 2010 was 0.6.

      WPA (win probability added) is probably a better measure after just a couple games and that has Traenor at 0.64 vs Kendall’s -2.95 mark in 2010.

      So yeah, he’s been quite a bit better than Kendall thus far. Of course, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to fail in the future.

      • jim fetterolf

        Is there any good way to quantify a catcher’s defense? I was at the game Saturday and Treanor stuffed a couple of balls in the dirt with runners on and put a wall up at home for Callaspo to bounce off of. That’s two or three defensive runs saved over the average catcher, at least our average. Angels’ catcher couldn’t stop what I thought was a catchable slider and Billy Butler waddled home as Frenchy ran to first.

        • Michael Engel

          I have no idea if there’s ever going to be a way to really measure it fully. How do you measure base stealing deterrence? Once teams figure out you can’t run on Joe Catcher, they stop trying, kind of like how shutdown corners in the NFL rarely lead the league in INTS – QBs don’t throw their way often enough.

          Then there’s calling a game, WP blocking, etc etc. Defense is just hard to measure. I agree that Treanor has looked like what Kendall was billed as – and he’s got a bit of power too (at least more than the negative power that Kendall has).

  • Kansas City WIN

    3-1 start is pretty stellar especially against a team that’s historically been above .500 for the year. Lets keep this rolling & stay healthy. I want to care about baseball come the Fall.