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June 18, 2014

What You Need to Know

Can't Retire the Royals

by Daniel Rathman, Nick Bacarella and Chris Mosch


The Tuesday Takeaway
For much of Angels starter Matt Shoemaker’s career, the odds have been stacked against him. Shoemaker went undrafted out of Eastern Michigan—where he had a 4.83 ERA and 1.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in three seasons—and spent parts of the next seven years in the Angels’ minor league system before making his major league debut last September. On Tuesday night, Shoemaker toed the rubber against the Indians for what turned out to be the best outing of his short big league career, and he was well on his way to a complete game before a short rain delay in the ninth inning brought a premature end to his night.

Prior to Tuesday, Matt Shoemaker had never recorded an out in the seventh inning of a game that he started. In six career starts, his longest start had been on May 18 against the Rays, when he spun six-plus inning of one-run ball. When Shoemaker walked off the mound in the sixth inning on Tuesday after striking out the side, his pitch count sat at just 70. That tally rose to 94 after eight innings, and Shoemaker warmed up in the bottom of the ninth, ready to close out his 9-2 lead. However, the grounds crew had to roll out the tarp for an 11-minute rain delay, and Mike Scioscia decided to call it a night for Shoemaker, whose previous single-season career-high was 96 pitches.

Efficiency was the focal point of Shoemaker’s attack, as the right-hander threw first-pitch strikes to 22 batters and needed just three or fewer pitches against 20 of the 29 batters he faced. Shoemaker’s secondary offerings were especially on point; he threw 37 of his 49 changeups, curveballs, and sliders for strikes, including six swing-and-misses with his changeup. He tallied 14 total swing-and-misses, which helped him register a career-high 10 punchouts.

Shoemaker actually trailed 2-1 in the fourth inning after Lonnie Chisenhall made him pay for one of his few mistakes of the night—a first-pitch fastball down the middle that was deposited into the Cleveland bullpen. However, Shoemaker’s teammates were able to pick him up with a four-spot in the fifth inning that was made possible by a crucial error by Asdrubal Cabrera. Cleveland had the opportunity to erase a leadoff single by David Freese when Josh Tomlin got Raul Ibanez to bounce a potential double play ball to Cabrera—who was playing on the right side of second base due to the overshift. However, in his attempt to tag Freese, Cabrera failed to field the grounder cleanly and came away with no outs.



After Hank Conger flied out for what could have been the third out of the inning, Kole Calhoun picked up his third of four singles on the night, this one an RBI base knock that moved Ibanez to third. Next up was Mike Trout, who took Tomlin oppo for a three-run jack.



Trout has found his power alley this season (as well as in seasons past) against pitches at or below his knees, and Tomlin made the mistake of leaving his 2-2 offering over the middle of the plate and in the lower third of the zone. With the Halos up 6-2 in the seventh, Trout went down even lower, increasing his .647 ISO on pitches below his knees and over the inner third of the plate with an absolute scorcher into the left-center field stands.


Trout’s second long ball of the night left even his teammates in disbelief. After the game, Hank Conger left the media with thoughts that we’ve all had at one point or another when watching Trout at the plate, “It's unbelievable. It's so effortless. It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I was truly [ticked]. How do I do that? Seriously. How do I do that?" —Chris Mosch

Quick Hits from Tuesday
The Royals and Tigers have swapped fates over the last month, and nothing could symbolize the role reversal better than Tuesday’s thrashing of Max Scherzer. Justin Verlander was at least able to keep pace with Jason Vargas through first four innings of Monday’s game, but Scherzer had no such luck, as Kansas City cobbled together a seven-run outburst in the second inning.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article PECOTA Takes on Prospe... (06/18)
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