Synopsis: Brian Bannister gives up just three singles and an unearned run in a complete-game 5-1 victory. Alex Gordon homers, his third of the year; Billy Butler extends hit streak to 12 games.
It occurred to me while watching Bannister set down batter after batter that all this talk about his fastball velocity and low strikeout rate and BABIP -- all those reasons he's supposed to have a bad year -- really doesn't matter when his opponents have no idea what he's throwing. They look fooled half the time -- when the ball goes by them -- and the other half they look merely glad to have made contact, usually resulting in a weak grounder or harmless flyout. Remember all those worries in the spring when he was getting shelled every outing? Apparently he really did know what he was doing all along, which was just "trying things out."
Francisco Liriano, 17 months removed from Tommy John surgery, simply got outpitched. Could there have been a better contrast in styles? Liriano, the wunderkind with electric stuff who wins by overpowering opponents, versus Bannister (still young, granted), the guy who has single-handedly made the word "cerebral" chic in baseball circles. Right now one of them is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA, and the other just gave up four runs while issuing five walks.
POSTSCRIPT: A few nice words about Trey Hillman from Sporting News.
POSTSCRIPT 2: The Royals have lost four times to the Twins this year. If you think that's bad, the Rockies have lost five times to the D-backs (trying to stave off six as we speak).
POSTSCRIPT 3: I was able to catch a bit of the Cardinals-Giants game on MLB.tv, and every time I watch ballgames in San Francisco I'm struck by how happy everyone looks. Never mind that the Giants will probably lose 100 games and that Matt Cain might go postal on his teammates if they keep losing him games; every person in that ballpark wears the most carefree, bubbly smiles you'll find anywhere. Today, a toddler nearly gets hit with a foul ball, and the Giants immediately send a rep to the family (the dad's bouncing the kid on his knee, smiling; Mom's laughing alongside; sister is next to Mom, smiling) to give them free tickets for a future game. A guy wearing a Cardinals cap catches a foul ball, and he gets playfully booed, then playfully slapped with a glove. Smiles and laughter all around. What is wrong with these people? Don't they know life is supposed to be hard?
Oh yeah, it was bright and sunny, of course.
POSTSCRIPT 4: The Royals had a 26-inning scoreless streak, sure, but the Tigers just got shut out for the fourth time this year and are 2-10 on the season. I'll let you think about that.