Good news: Dusty Hughes is back(ish)
The lefty pitcher made his first appearance since July 29 (an ugly game, for sure) after some shoulder soreness has kept him on the bench. His pitch count for tonight was 40-45, which lasted him two innings. I suppose it's not surprising for a guy who hasn't thrown in a while to be uneconomical with his pitches, but he fared pretty well anyway, racking up 5 Sonic Strikeouts (sorry, I had to) and allowing zero hits. He did walk two batters, but again I think that was just him shaking off a little rust from his time on the bench.
Bad news: The Omaha bullpen
When Hughes left the game, the ORoyals enjoyed a 3-0 lead. Then Tyler Lumsden came in, and got through 1.2 innings perfectly. But with two out and nobody on in the 4th, things got really stupid. Two 'Topes singled to bring up Michael Ryan, who also singled. Paul Lo Duca was coming around to score, but right fielder Brett Bigler* almost got the out at home, as Matt Tupman did everything he could to swipe Lo Duca but apparently missed the tag.
After Lo Duca reached home safely, Tupman tried to cut down Ryan advancing to 2nd, but nobody was there to cover, the ball sailed in to center field, another run scored, and Ryan ended up at third. Lumsden struck out the next batter, and the stupid inning was over.
*If you've ever wondered what happens when a team is desperately in need of some outfield help when all of their OFs are injured, look no further than Bigler. He was batting just .197 at SINGLE-A, but was added to Omaha's roster to help get through these dark, Costa-less days. In addition to Costa's injury, we're also playing without Mike Stodolka, whose hurt hand has kept him out of the lineup for a week now. And we're really feeling Mitch Maier's absence here; since his callup on July 24, the ORoyals are just 5-15.
But if the 4th was a stupid inning, the 5th could only be described as excruciating. Or maybe as child abuse. Lumsden and Brad Salmon tag-teamed to give up 8 runs that inning, and I was ready to tear out my eyeballs. I'm glad that inning eventually ended, but I'm concerned about the Omaha bullpen.
With Hughes and Carlos Rosa hurting, the bullpen has had to act as a starting rotation lately, and it's pretty apparent that they are stretched too thin.
Good news: Hawaiian Punch
Sam Mellinger wrote about him a few days ago, and Rany has more thoughts tonight. I'm a wee bit concerned about Kila's 13 strikeouts in 14 games, because the book on him was that he walked way more than he struck out. I'll be looking for him to cut down on his K/9 rate as the rest of the season plays out. It's weird to say anything about him having trouble adjusting to a higher level of pitching, because he is still hitting incredibly well. But I do think it is a weakness, and something he'll have to fix soon in order to justify a promotion to the Majors later this season.
Two sightings tonight:
Joey Gathright showed up in plainclothes partway through the game, and was properly chastised by the Village (the fans who sit by the 3rd base and who are AWESOME) for his tardiness. Obviously everyone who was around last year was glad to see him, and he took the time to talk to everyone who wanted him, and signed a crap-ton of autographs after the game. He has been a fan's man for as long as I've known him, and that hasn't changed in the slightest. He'll be in tomorrow night's lineup.
Alberto Callaspo showed up in the Omaha dugout (in that same gray hoodie he's always wearing). He's not on the roster at the moment, but he's around.
One last note:
I was in the middle of an epic solo in Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover" on Guitar Hero this morning. Then I felt something tickling the top of my bare foot. It was a spider. This is not a good way to get five stars on any song.
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