As he leaned back against a padded folding chair, Lorenzo Cain covered his mouth with his left hand and shook his head. It was late Wednesday night inside the visitors clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, moments after the Royals’ 3 0 loss to the New York Yankees, and Cain, the Royals’ center fielder, needed a moment to compose his thoughts.
Cain had just seen a firebolt in the form of a 6 foot 2, 215 pound starter named Luis Severino. He had seen a 99 mph fastball, a sharp slider, and a tidy little change up that disappeared against left handed hitters. He did not wish to see more.
“I don’t know where they found that guy,” Cain said. “But he’s pretty darn good, I’ll tell you that.”
Before Wednesday, few in this room had seen Severino, a 23 year old starter who had just completed his 31st major league start. They had watched video to prepare. They studied his tendencies and scouting report. But in the moments after Severino recorded eight scoreless innings and seven strikeouts in a dominating performance, they were left with a prevailing thought The video does not do 99 mph justice.
“You can look at film all day,” Cain said. “But once you step in that box, it’s a whole other world.”
For eight innings, the Royals were handcuffed by Severino, the Yankees’ precocious Wade Davis Jersey, flame throwing starter, who yielded just five base runners.
The Royals 19 27 dropped back to eight games under .500 as the calendar pushed toward June. After being shut out for a fifth time, they are now 2 4 on this 10 game road trip http://www.royalsfanaticsjersey.com/danny-duffy-jersey-c-2.html, which will conclude with three games in Cleveland, and they must win Thursday afternoon to salvage a series split here in the Bronx. Rookie Miguel Almonte will make his first career start for the Royals.
After the month of April was torpedoed by a nine game losing skid, the Royals have settled for mediocrity in May. Following Wednesday’s loss, they are now 12 11 in their last 23 games, treading water in last place in the American League Central.
Severino, a former top prospect, entered the evening with a 3.64 ERA in eight starts, a promising stretch after a year of problems in 2016. On Wednesday, he locked up the Royals with a fastball that touched 99 mph, an 88 mph slider and an occasional change up.
“His slider was really impressive,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The Royals, once one of the best fastball hitting teams in baseball, mustered just four hits as Severino lowered his ERA to 3.11. The offensive output wasted a solid outing from starter Jason Hammel http://www.royalsfanaticsjersey.com/dillon-gee-jersey-c-4.html, who rebounded after consecutive clunkers.
When the Royals signed Hammel to a two year, 16 million contract in early February, they envisioned performances like this one six innings, three earned runs, a quality start at Yankee Stadium. That it mattered little offered a neat synopsis of the season thus far. Still, it offered a moment of relief for Hammel.
“It’s definitely something to build on,” he said.
In his previous two starts, Hammel allowed 13 earned runs, served up four homers and had been forced to soak up innings to save a depleted bullpen. The last performance came eight days ago in a 7 1 loss to the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium. When that night was over, his ERA had settled in at 6.20.
In the days that followed, Hammel settled in with pitching coach Dave Eiland, looking to diagnose the problem. Gifted three extra days after a rain out in Minnesota shook up the rotation schedule, Hammel went to work. He sought to open up his delivery and harness the command of his fastball.
RELATED STORIES FROM THE KANSAS CITY STAR
The Star’s 30 second ballpark tour Yankee Stadium
After adding bulk to his frame, Royals’ Whit Merrifield displaying pop at the plate
Miguel Almonte to make first career start Thursday; Gordon returns, Karns on DL
Nathan Karns to the DL, Miguel Almonte to make his first start
“It really helped a lot with just my direction,” Hammel said of the change. “And everything else fell in line. Just trying to stay square with home.”
For six innings, he better resembled the back end starter who posted a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts for the Chicago Cubs in 2016. He surrendered just six hits while striking out seven. His command problems were under control. He worked ahead during the early innings.
The first blemish surfaced in the bottom of the third inning, when Yankees shortstop and Royals killer Didi Gregorius deposited a 92 mph fastball into the seats in right field. But Hammel responded with scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth, keeping his team in the game.
“You got to keep the ball in the yard,” Hammel said. “No matter what the other guy is doing on the other mound, you can give up hits, but if you keep giving up hits that leave the yard, that’s still points for the bad guys. It is what it is I’ll take it as a step forward. A loss is never good. But it’s something we can build on.”
The Yankees stretched their lead to 2 0 in the sixth, taking advantage of a soft Royals defense. Gary Sanchez opened the inning with a single to left, stole second on the glacial Hammel, and then scampered to third base after catcher Salvador Perez bounced the throw to second and Whit Merrifield whiffed on the pick. Moments later, Matt Holliday recorded a sacrifice fly on a deep fly ball to right center field.
Hammel had logged six solid innings. Yost sent him out for a seventh. Gregorius greeted Hammel with a ground rule double to right center field. Yost emerged from the dugout and called on reliever Matt Strahm. Moments later, Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner drove in the run after a suspect call on what would have been strike three.
“We had Strahm warmed up before the inning thinking, ‘OK, Gregorius is so tough against lefties, let’s see if we can buy an out or two,’” Yost said. “He just hit it perfectly.”
In that moment http://www.royalsfanaticsjersey.com/brian-flynn-jersey-c-3.html, the score was 3 0. It would stay like that for the rest of the night. For Hammel, the night represented a decent step forward. With Severino on the mound, throwing 99 mph fastballs and bending off speed stuff, it would not matter.
“When you’re facing 100 with a never before seen curveball,” Hammel said, “that’s tough.”