In his first start of the season, Bruce Chen gave up three homers and five earned runs in just five innings. His command was off and he left the ball up all day.
It’s safe to say that he’s made some adjustments.
In his two starts since, Chen has hurled 14 innings, surrendering one unearned run, walking just two batters and allowing just nine hits.
On Thursday, he let his defense do the dirty work, getting solid plays from Alcides Escobar and Melky Cabrera in the field. While it’d be better to see him get more ground balls than fly balls, what did get hit into the air was generally hit shallow or straight up. Then again, he was facing the Mariners, a group who isn’t very formidable with the stick. They batted Adam Kennedy cleanup. I don’t have numbers in front of me, but that’s probably not ideal statistically.
So maybe we should grade Chen’s Thursday performance on a curve. In rough conditions, with rain threatening all night, he handled a weak offense. It’s premature to suggest that he’s stepping up and developing into a late-career starting star.
Of course, he shut down the Tigers on Saturday, too.
The game was called before the bottom of the eighth inning with the Royals up 5-1 and the tarp on the field. The Royals scored three runs in the third inning on a two run double by Alex Gordon and a Billy Butler single that drove in Gordon. Wilson Betemit added a homer and a sacrifice fly for two RBIs on the night as well.
Once again, the Royals got a little bit from almost everyone in the lineup. Brayan Pena went hitless and struck out twice, but the only other hitless Royal – Chris Getz – at least contributed a sacrifice bunt that got Alcides Escobar to second base in the third.
Kila Ka’aihue was back in the lineup and back in the fifth spot. After a miserable series in Detroit, Ka’aihue got two days off in Minnesota, but on Thursday he walked in his first at bat and singled in the sixth. Yesterday, Mike Aviles returned from a short stint on the bench to go 2-4 with 3 RBI after having a decent game the night before (going hitless, yes, but getting a walk and a sacrifice fly – sometimes something, ANYTHING, positive can pick up a slumping player). Hopefully, this spurs a little streak for Ka’aihue.
Coming into the game, the Royals bullpen had pitched in about 40% of the team’s innings – a pretty unfavorable percentage. Bruce Chen going eight innings helped give them a much-deserved day off.
In other news, Robinson Tejeda was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He’d struggled with his velocity and got rocked against the Twins on Tuesday. I’d love to be cynical and suggest he’s on the DL with “shoulder inflammation” but I do believe that there’s something physically wrong with him to lose so much velocity out of nowhere. Or maybe he just sucks and needs two weeks off. Blake Wood was recalled from Omaha to take his spot in the bullpen.