There’s a saying in baseball that the advantage goes to the pitcher the first time he faces an opponent. Presumably, that advantage starts to swing the other way the next time, especially if it comes in the pitcher’s next start.
With this season’s quirky baseball schedule, there are times when a pitcher faces a team in three straight starts.
Much like the Minnesota Twins’ Jake Odorizzi, who took the loss to the host Kansas City Royals 7-2 on Friday, that’s the challenge facing Royals rookie Brady Singer on Saturday, as he faces the Twins for the third straight start.
“I think it’s smart to evaluate where you’ve been,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said Friday. “If there have been any patterns, try to avoid those patterns, obviously, while still balancing how to stick with your strengths.
“It’s going to come down to pitch execution. With Brady’s stuff, if he’s making good pitches to good locations, he’s got the ability to use multiple pitches. (He can’t) try to reinvent the wheel. Then you’re going to start to go to your weaknesses that could end up being strengths for the opposition.”
In his most recent start against the Twins, Singer (1-2, 4.56 ERA) went 5 2/3 innings, giving up four hits, three runs and four walks while striking out two in a 4-2 loss on Sunday. In his first start against them, he earned his first career win, allowing two runs on five hits in five innings. He thinks the repetition is an advantage.
“It’s actually kind of good that I get to look back and watch myself go against them,” he said. “I get to watch my past two starts and figure out some things I need to change and some things obviously to keep the same.
“There are some things I’ll change and some things I won’t. I’m just excited for the next start.”
Twins starter Randy Dobnak is in a similar position, as he’ll face the Royals for the second straight time.
Dobnak (4-1, 1.42 ERA) allowed two homers for the first time in his career in his last start on Sunday, but that’s all the damage he allowed. He held the Royals to two runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. He leads the team in wins and ERA.
His secret is to rely on his defense.
“Every time I go out there, I trust those guys,” Dobnak said after Sunday’s victory. “That’s why I kind of pitch to contact. They’ve been lights-out this year behind me. That’s something every pitcher really wants to have, to trust the guys behind them, because they’re going to put balls in play, obviously.
“To have those plays behind you at any point is always a nice thing to have.”
Dobnak is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA in two career starts against the Royals. He earned his first major league win against Kansas City last September.
The Royals will be without Salvador Perez, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday with what a medical specialist called a “pocket of fluid” in his left eye, according to Matheny. The move was made retroactive to Aug. 18.
Perez missed the game on Sunday but was back in the lineup Monday before coming out with blurred vision in the sixth inning.
–Field Level Media