The Royals opened the season with a 4-3 win over the Mets, Sunday night.
Baseball is back, guys.
Here are some notes from last night’s game, as well as for the rest of this week.
Edinson Volquez is still (2014-15) Edinson Volquez
The Edinson Volquez we saw last night was very similar to the one that we saw all of last season and through the playoffs.
Although it felt like he was laboring all night, which he was to an extent, he allowed just two hits and didn’t allow a run during his six innings of work for the Royals.
Volquez worked around three walks with fine defensive plays by Mike Moustakas in the 2nd and Hosmer in the third, while also striking out five Mets.
We also saw the velocity bump from the 2015 playoffs carry over into Opening Night, averaging just a few ticks below 95 MPH on his fastballs, and hitting 97 a few times.
To go with the velocity was that wicked arm-side action we saw last postseason, which actually confused Brooks Baseball enough to thinking that pitch was actually a sinker.
His velocity began to wane into the 5th and 6th innings, which isn’t all too unusual, with Volquez throwing over 100 pitches for the first time this season.
As usual, walks were an issue, but Volquez worked through the command issue, something he has done in 2014-15 that he had failed to do in years past.
Obviously, going forward, we can hope that Volquez’s command will improve and that he will give us some 7-8 inning outings, but I’ll take six dominant innings with the Royals bullpen any day.
And Volquez was dominant.
Eric Hosmer is still Eric Hosmer
The Royals gold glove first baseman was looking like his normal self last night, going 3-4 with two ground ball singles and a bunt single, along with a diving play in the field and a head first slide into first base.
Hosmer notched his three hits without barreling a pitch up, and drove in a run in the process.
His diving play in the third stranded the tying run on second.
Joakim Soria is going to be fine
Yes, just breathe. It’s okay. Jack is fine.
If you are reading this and missed the game last night, Soria struggled mightily in his first (well, not really) outing as a Royals set up man. He entered with a 4-0 lead in the 8th and proceeded to promptly give up three runs on three hits and two walks, in just 0.2 IP.
No, it was not an encouraging outing. But, it was also Opening Night. It was cold, the adrenaline was pumping, and the strike zone was shrinking.
I would also note that at least two of the three hits Soria gave up were jam shots, which is more than you could say for Herrera, who got barrelled up by Mets hitters more than Soria did.
However, Soria got out of the inning with the lead, thanks to:
Luke Hochevar throws something filthy
Hochevar has always had pretty good stuff. His fastball has sat in the mid-upper 90s since his move to the bullpen and his curveball can be devastating at times.
However, the changeup (?) Hochevar threw last night might have been the dirtiest pitch of his career.
Fangraphs is calling it a knuckle-curve, but I’m guessing that’s more based on velocity.
It kind of reminded me, movement wise, of former Royals closer Greg Holland‘s splitter.
Whatever you wish to call it, the pitch was filthy, and it held the lead for:
Wade Davis’ has his velocity back
A few days ago, our own John Viril did a piece on Royals closer Wade Davis’ lack of velocity in Spring Training.
While he covered all of Davis’ pitches, Viril had this to say about his fastball:
"“According to Brooks Baseball’s tabular data, Davis’ fourseam fastball is down to 93.61 mph from 96.47 last season,”"
Although it was just Spring Training, a three MPH drop off is nothing to sniff at, especially true given Greg Holland’s velocity drop last season, which wound up being due to injury.
Holland is still sidelined from that injury.
So, the concern was legitimate as any velocity concern would be.
However, last night, Davis gave us something to be encouraged by, seeing his fastball jump from the 93 MPH mark in spring training, up to 95 MPH.
According to last night’s ESPN broadcast, Davis even hit 97 a few times.
Davis wound up working around a walk and a single, as well as seeing the tying run standing at third base (where have I seen that before), with two strikeouts, including a strikeout of Yoenis Cespedes to, obviously, end the game, which gave me these types of feelings:
Chris Young to start game two
With Ian Kennedy‘s hamstring injury, he has been scratched from his original April 4 start and moved to April 9.
In his stay will be Chris Young, who gave up just two runs on two hits over seven innings of World Series work for the Royals against the Mets last October, striking out seven in the process.
While New York remains fairly unapologetic about the pitch, Syndergaard caused a stir by saying this last week:
"“I simply threw a pitch on the inside corner, elevated, purpose pitch. I don’t really see how any retaliation can be made,’’ Syndergaard said, according to the New York Post. “I don’t think they are too fond of me, but as far as retaliation, I really don’t know what they are going to retaliate against. All I did was establish the inner part of the plate. So I don’t know what this whole retaliation talk is all about, but it’s going to be an interesting time.’’"
This was in response to this phantom report, which claimed that the Royals were “seeking payback.”
Alex Gordon‘s response was way more fun, saying:
"“We’re not even thinking about it. Our retaliation was winning the World Series.”"
Start time for Tuesday’s game is set for 3:15 CST.