Variety key in Mendoza's improvement

Variety key in Mendoza's improvement

Variety key in Mendoza's improvement
MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Luis Mendoza's recent success stems from varying his pitches and pitch location early in the game, according to Royals manager Ned Yost.

Earlier in the season, Mendoza tended to regularly pitch right-handed batters inside with two-seam fastballs.

"Righties aren't used to seeing a bunch of pitches in, so he handles the lineup first time around. The second time around, they start fighting pitches off. The third time, they're killing him, they're looking for it," Yost said.

But, in Friday night's 4-3 victory, Mendoza got through eight innings and gave up one run -- plus he had the Twins completely shut down in the third time through the order. In fact, he retired the last 12 batters he faced.

Guided by catcher Salvador Perez, Mendoza got away from a predictable pattern.

"Yesterday, they didn't do that," Yost said. "They effectively pitched in, but they also effectively pitched away with the two-seamer, four-seamer and curveball. So the third time around, they still didn't have any idea what he was doing, they weren't sitting on one particular pitch."

On Friday night, Mendoza didn't issue a walk, as he aggressively attacked the strike zone. After fighting his control earlier in the year, he's issued just five walks in his last 24 1/3 innings.

"He's throwing strikes, he's not really hurting himself walking guys," Yost said.