Saturday, August 18, 2007

Singing the praises of Banny and the Royals

Brian Bannister went the distance last night in Oakland in a 9-2 win. Call me reckless, but I knew the Royals had the game wrapped up before Bannister threw his first pitch. KC put up a four-spot in the top of the 1st off Dan Meyer, a former Brave who was a key piece of the Tim Hudson trade and making his Major League debut. One got the feeling the A's wanted Meyer's first start to come in a low-pressure situation against a weak-hitting team, but they didn't count on, among other things, the wrath of Emil Brown, whose two-run homer in the 1st pretty much sealed the deal.

Bannister wasn't sharp the first time through the Oakland lineup -- three hits, a walk and a home run allowed -- but he settled down, retired nine straight from the 3rd through 5th, then nine straight again in the final three frames. Bannister leads all AL rookies with a 3.31 ERA, almost a half run lower than Dice-K's 3.79. According to Yahoo, Bannister's "9-0 when getting at least four runs of support. In his seven losses, he's received run support of one run or less." He has, indeed, been given the worst run support of any AL pitcher, yet he's still cobbled together a 9-7 record (as opposed to Matt Cain's 4-13).

To think, in front of family and friends, Bannister was almost not permitted to finish the game. From

There was some dugout debate about whether Bannister would be permitted to complete the game.

"I was hoping they'd let me go back out because I knew I was right at 100 (pitches) going into the ninth," Bannister said.

If the Royals' seven-batter ninth inning had gone another hitter or two, Bell was ready to pull Bannister because of the cooldown effect. But the rookie was sent out for the ninth.

"We were going to give him one hitter in the ninth and he just had an easy ninth so ...," Bell said.

So why not? After all, the Royals had not had a complete game since Mark Redman won at Minnesota, 2-0, on Aug. 29, 2006.

Six straight losses for the White Sox, and suddenly the Royals have caught up again. Let's see if they can seize sole possession of fourth place tonight.

POSTSCRIPTS: Around baseball:

1. The other Chicago team is now alone in first place in the NL Central after ending St. Louis's winning streak yesterday in Wrigley. Great game, though be discreet about that around some people. Milwaukee, on the other hand, is absolutely falling apart. It's not a good sign when your middle infielders are diving all over the place to stop balls thrown by your own team.

2. What an excellent doubleheader in Fenway between the AL's top two teams. Poor Eric Gagne, who's responsible for three losses in a Red Sox uniform. Not the way to endear yourself to Boston. Check out Over the Monster's suggested bullpen depth chart.

3. Nice catch, kid. Now you're featured on USA Today,, the Boston Globe, MSNBC... don't let go of that ball.

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