Rzepczynski goes up in flames in loss

Royals batter Eric Hosmer is mobbed by teammates after driving in the winning run in the 11th...

Royals batter Eric Hosmer is mobbed by teammates after driving in the winning run in the 11th inning against the Blue Jays Monday. (Reuters)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:15 AM ET

KANSAS CITY - There is wild, there is effectively wild and then there is the terrible relief performance that Marc Rzepczynski unveiled Monday night.

More like unravelled.

Under the heading of ‘You Can’t Lose Them All,’ the Kansas City Royals came off the proverbial mat Monday night, dropping an unexpected 3-2 victory on the visiting Blue Jays.

Eric Hosmer supplied the walkoff win in the 11th with a two-out, bases-loaded single on the first pitch from Frank Francisco.

Losers of 12 of their previous 15 and still drenched in the stink of being swept at home in a four-game series by the perfectly inept Minnesota Twins, the Royals showed that the voodoo magic they hold over the Jays hasn’t lost any of its potency.

The magic was particularly strong in the seventh when they threw a curse Rzepczynski’s way.

It was a doozy as the lefty reliever was absolutely brutal entering the game in the seventh with one on and two out. He threw a first-pitch strike to Alex Gordon, then came four consecutive balls.

Next up was Melky Cabrera and four pitches later he was on first with a walk, the bags now full.

Hosmer then came to the plate, never took the bat off his shoulder, and brought in the tying run as Rzepczynski tossed another four consecutive balls.

His line: Three batters, three walks, 13 pitches, 12 balls.

The Jays came into the contest having lost seven of their previous 10 games at Kauffman Stadium and haven’t won a season series in Kansas City since 2003.

So it’s good to see that they haven’t lost their touch.

The Jays have been pounding the ball of late but Monday they couldn’t get much of anything going against righty Felipe Paulino who held them to three hits over 62/3 innings.

But it proved to be enough.

The unlucky loser for the Jays was hard throwing Brandon Morrow, who allowed an unearned run in the fourth and all of two hits over six innings. He left with a 2-1 lead but thanks to Rzepczynski’s wildness, it was all for naught.

An unearned run and a bases loaded walk, that was the guts of the Royals offence.

Good enough, though, to beat the Jays.

Bottoms up

There are times when the best thing that can happen to a player is that he hits rock bottom.

That’s exactly where rookie Kyle Drabek found himself in his previous outing. Against the Cleveland Indians last Wednesday, Drabek suffered the shortest outing of his brief career as he didn’t make it through the first inning.

Oh the humanity.

All he could manage that night was to retire two batters as he walked three allowed three hits and left with four runs on the board.

On Tuesday night Drabek is back on the bump against the Kansas City Royals and it will be a telling start for the 23-year-old right-hander.

Pitching coach Bruce Walton believes that if Drabek learns from the experience and makes the necessary adjustments, then hitting the bottom will have proved to be beneficial.

“You never want to see it happen but I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason,” pitching coach Bruce Walton said. “I think it humbled him a little bit and I think that a lot of things that we’ve been talking about and teaching, he probably thought about a lot more about them after that game than he did before the game.”

Three days ago Walton worked with Drabek in his side session and the theme was to throw strikes. That sounds simplistic but it has become a major hurdle for Drabek in his starts as he is the Major League walk leader with 45.

“We just concentrated on getting ahead, aiming more middle third of the plate than trying to aim corners,” Walton said. “His stuff is good enough that if he throws middle, his sinker will feed towards the outer edge and his fastball jumps. It’s not that he’s going to hit middle all the time but if he aims middle (and lets the ball run to the corners) early in counts, it’s going to help him out.”

Just why has Draebk had so much trouble with the strike zone? Walton believes it’s from trying too hard.

“I don’t think it’s so much a mental thing as he tries to be perfect out there, he tries to put the ball on the corners and that’s hard to do with his movement,” Walton said. “So his game plan needs to be revised a little bit. He needs to get ahead, needs to understand that contact in the major leagues is okay.

“I think the big change coming from the minor leagues, the kind of pitcher that Kyle was with great stuff, he wasn’t used to getting hit and here he’s going to get hit a lot. And that’s OK. They’re going to get their singles and doubles and it’s about damage control.

“I think that’s going to be one of the biggest learning curves he has to adjust to is getting adjusted to contact in the zone for outs.”

We’ll see soon enough if he has discovered anything from the recent pounding.


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