After strong start, one rough inning sinks Volquez, KC
Moustakas' error leads to four unearned runs
By John Jackson
Special to MLB.com |
CHICAGO -- Edinson Volquez headed out to the mound to start the sixth inning Sunday afternoon working on a one-hit shutout. By the time he headed back to the dugout -- after recording just two outs -- the Royals suddenly were trailing and the right-hander's streak of quality starts was history.
That one bad inning -- aided by an error by third baseman Mike Moustakas -- flipped the script, resulting in a 5-3 Royals loss in the scheduled game after they suffered a 3-2 defeat in the completion of a suspended game from Friday.
"The first five innings he was awesome," manager Ned Yost said of Volquez. "I had [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland] go back and look at the pitches and none of them were horrible pitches. They just found holes, they hit the ball and we had a chance to maybe turn a tough double play -- it wasn't by any means a routine double play -- but that would have got him out of the inning."
Volquez, though, said he wasn't as precise in the sixth.
"I left a couple of balls up working behind in the count," he said. "I was supposed to throw like the first couple of innings. But it happens. Sometimes you just get away from pitches."
To Volquez, falling behind in the count was more crucial than pitch location.
"Yeah, because I was working ahead in the count from the beginning of the game," he said. "I fell behind in the last couple of innings and I got in trouble.
"I was a lot of up pitches. You can't make those mistakes in the big leagues; they make you pay."
The inning started in spectacularly positive fashion as Alex Gordon made a leaping backhand catch of a pop fly before crashing into the second row of the left-field stands for the first out.
Then things suddenly went south. Adam Eaton singled and Melky Cabrera walked to put runners on first and second. There were runners on first and third (following a wild pitch) when White Sox slugger Jose Abreu bounced a grounder to the left side of the infield and it appeared Volquez might escape with a double play.
However, Moustakas booted the ball for an error as Eaton scored to make it 3-1. Adam LaRoche followed with a run-scoring single to make it 3-2. Avisail Garcia then singled to load the bases. Volquez struck out Alexei Ramirez for the second out, but Conor Gillaspie knocked Volquez from the game with a two-run single to put the White Sox ahead, 4-3.
Volquez's curveball was a big pitch for him early, but he felt the key to the Gillaspie at-bat was not getting a couple of curves over the plate early in the count.
"Big time because we can change the [pitch] sequence," Volquez said. "You get ahead with the breaking ball and you've got another chance to throw a very good pitch."
The White Sox fifth run in the inning scored when Tyler Flowers singled off reliever Jason Frasor to close the book on Volquez. Because of the Moustakas error -- "That's a play I need to make, and 99 out of a hundred times I make that play," the third baseman said -- just one of the five runs against Volquez was earned.
Still, that was enough to end his streak of quality starts (which dated back to Aug. 29 of last season) at nine. He had pitched at least seven innings in each of his first three starts.
The Royals called up right-hander Aaron Brooks to serve as the 26th man for the regularly scheduled game Sunday. Brooks was sent back to the Minors after the game.
John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.