The first of those yakkers was fouled off, barely -- the ball bouncing straight down off the end of the bat and back-spinning behind the catcher's head. The second: that patented 66-mph curve. You know the one. It should be given a nickname, something like Señor 66, but wittier (we're on it). We've yet to see a batter get a good swing on it this year, and Napoli, well... he was caught in a classic damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't moment. He swung only because he would've been punched out if he didn't, but the pitch was absolutely unhittable. (Napoli didn't hit it.)
Next batter: a sawed-off bat (two pieces and a splinter) on a 1-2 count for a weak dribbler to short.
And then, the final out: with Chone Figgins, who came into the game with a .507 OBP, at the plate, Soria quickly got out ahead with two strikes, setting up the hammer. And then it came.
And our reaction: Oh. My. God.
Afterwards, as Soria walked into the congratulatory line, Miguel Olivo couldn't wipe a smile off his face. Who knows what he was thinking. That was us, though -- laughing to ourselves, shaking our heads.
Royals 3, Angels 2.
GIL MECHE pitched six innings of two-run ball to pick up his first win of the year. He escaped several jams, and it was apparent he was having trouble consistently locating his fastball. Still, a quality start is a good sign, and with the way the bullpen's going -- Trey Hillman had the luxury of bringing in four guys (Ramon Ramirez, Jimmy Gobble, Leo Nunez and Soria) who have yet to allow a run this year -- a quality start is usually enough for the win.
ONE NOTE ABOUT THE OFFENSE: Opposing teams are now treating Tony Pena Jr. like a pitcher, and not even a good-hitting pitcher like Carlos Zambrano or Mike Hampton. Ross Gload got intentionally walked in consecutive plate appearances to bring up Pena, and both times Pena failed with runners in scoring position. This brings up the question: when's enough enough? Craig Brown of Royals Authority says now, but apparently Hillman likes Pena's defense (granted, it's quite good) and won't be going to Alberto Callaspo anytime soon. But just know that Pena's 5-for-32 (.119) on the year and that he's certainly bad enough to threaten the Mendoza line over 400 at-bats, or however may he ends up getting. That's about as nicely as we can put it.
SOMETIME TO COME: Praising Mark Grudzielanek, who picked up career hits 1,927 and 1,928 tonight. An everyday player in every sense of the word, both on the field and off.
POSTSCRIPT: This will get its own post later -- it would've gotten one yesterday, except I was traveling all day -- but Rany's unveiled the No. 1 reason it's great to be a Royals fan right now, and that reason is (of course) Dayton Moore.
POSTSCRIPT 2: Mark Teahen, the offensive hero of the night (3 for 4, walk, run scored) and a generally smart guy -- 3.59 GPA at St. Mary's, neck-to-neck race with Brian Bannister (as selected by teammates) in the clubhouse's Presidential Primary contest (or whatever it's called) -- was presented a microphone by FSN KC and asked to interview some teammates about California (Teahen is from Redlands, after all). Here are two snippets:
Teahen: What's the state tree?
John Buck: Um... pine tree.
Teahen: If you were to go to the nearest beach, what direction would you head?
David DeJesus: [Long pause] South?
POSTSCRIPT 3: Milton Bradley -- in one game, mind you: two hits, five walks. That's working for your money.