Luke Hochevar, who had allowed 16 runs on 19 hits in just 6 2/3 innings in his last two starts, did exactly what everyone expected by throwing seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out five in continuing what is truly becoming a Jekyll&Hyde season – and career – in the Royals 5-0 win.
Hochevar (3-3) who entered the game with a hefty 9.00 ERA, allowed just two runners past first base and now leads the Royals in wins, is second in quality starts (4) despite owning a 7.20 ERA. He now has four good starts, three very, very bad starts continuing a career-long trend of being good or bad and rarely average.
In the second inning, with runners on first and second with one out, Hochevar induced an inning-ending, double-play grounder from White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. The next inning, Brett Morel singled with one out and stole second before Hochevar got two fly-outs to end the inning. He then allowed just one more hit – a fourth-inning single the rest of the night and retired the last 11 he faced.
The Royals (12-20), despite two base-running blunders, scored three runs in the first inning, to give Hochevar the only runs he would need. After left fielder Alex Gordon, now the new 3-hitter, singled to load the bases, Billy Butler lined a shot into the right-field corner. Johnny Giavotella tagged up at second base, unsure if White Sox right fielder Alex Rios would catch the ball, when he should have easily been halfway, and only Jarrod Dyson on third scored. It prevented Butler from going two bases. “Big Bill” couldn’t believe it when he rounded first.
Jeff Francoeur followed with a grounder up the middle that was gloved by second baseman Gordon Beckham, who stepped on second for the force and then threw wildly to first, bringing home two runs. A blooper that traveled about 10-feet down the third base line by Eric Hosmer loaded the bases once again, but Alcides Escobar and Humberto Quintero flew out to end the inning.
- The win marked the Royals first 9-inning shutout this season. Previously, Duffy pitched six scoreless innings in a 7-inning 3-0 shutout at Oakland, moving the Royals to 3-2 – the last time we had a winning record.
- The win was Kansas City’s second straight against a left-handed starter.
- Escobar doubled twice, the second of the RBI variety and later scored in the 2-run 8th inning, and now has 12 on the year, good for fourth in the AL.
- Greg Holland was activated off the DL and struck out three and walked one in a scoreless eighth. Nate Adcock was optioned to Omaha to make room for the “Flying Dutchman”
- Dyson, the fastest guy in the majors, was held at third – not scoring from second – on a single later in the game.
- The Royals are now 9-6 since they lost 12 straight and are still in striking distance at 5 1/2 games out of first and 3 1/2 games ahead of the awful last place Minnesota Twins (9-24).
- Hosmer, who is still hitting .180, was dropped to sixth in the order with Alex Gordon dropping from 2-to-3.
- Mike Moustakas missed the game to nurse his sore hammy. He will also miss Sunday’s game. Irving Falu will start in his absence. After a 2-for-4 night, the career minor leaguer is batting .500.
- Danny Duffy (2-2, 3.90) will try to rebound from a rough start Tuesday against Boston against former Royal Phil Humber (1-2, 6.59) – whose only win is a perfect game – Sunday afternoon as the Royals will try to improve on their 8-7 road record and take their second straight series. With a win, it will also be the fifth non-losing series in a row.