Like it should be: Davis and Holland lead bullpen bounce-back in Royals’ win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It took 327 pitches and three hours and 37 minutes to finally resolve the Royals-White Sox game, and in the end it came down to which team could locate one or two pitchers who could simply throw strikes and get someone out.
First, enter Wade Davis, the Royals’ new Luke Hochevar, who has assumed Hoch’s role as the primary setup man to closer Greg Holland and at least for now, seems more than adequate to fill those shoes.
Davis came in the eighth inning Friday and held the White Sox in check, setting up Holland who eventually closed out a 7-5 victory.
Davis turned in a scoreless inning, but even that didn’t come about without some drama, none of which he created.
Davis got Alexei Ramirez on a pop fly to right for the first out, then induced another pop fly to Norichika Aoki in right field near the foul line. Aoki inexplicably dropped it and Tyler Flowers reached second base.
That brought the tying run to home plate and the top of the White Sox order.
In this rather undisciplined, crazy game, it could have been the type of error to open the floodgates. It might have even led to a crushing defeat.
But Davis responded by blowing a four-seam fastball past Adam Eaton for a swinging third strike, and then did the same to Marcus Semien, who sat down looking.
The called third strike hit 96 mph on the stadium radar gun.
"It’s one of those things where when that (error) happens, you want to pick everyone up," Davis said. "You really want to pick it up for that guy (Aoki). I was able to do that."
Manager Ned Yost said it takes a special type of pitcher to overcome adversity such as his own team’s fielding errors.
"We’ve got that mentality in our bullpen," Yost said. "These guys know they are good and they know they can overcome stuff. They have that kind of confidence in themselves."
Davis appeared to reach back for a little extra with his fastball to get Eaton and Semien. As a starter, Davis normally reached 92-94 on the gun. But as was the case last season, Davis has added a little more velocity working as a reliever.
"It’s a little more ‘everything you got,’ " Davis said. "You do what you have to for each hitter. But I really didn’t have a set plan tonight. Just whatever was working."
Though Davis’ career is now strikingly similar to Hochevar’s — a failed starter excelling in a setup role — Davis doesn’t draw any paralells.
"There are if you say so, I guess," he said, grinning and shrugging his shoulders.
Hochevar experienced similar success and elevated velocity in the setup role, which he attributed to just adrenaline rush.
Davis agreed, but said he never really talked to Hochevar about it.
"We talk about other things, not baseball," Hochevar said. "The main thing is each of us in the bullpen have one job to do and that’s get the ball to Greg. It doesn’t matter what inning you’re pitching in, just get your job done."
And after Davis did his part, Holland finished off the White Sox with ease with a pop fly to left and two strikeouts.
And that certainly left the bullpen with a better feeling than it had in Detroit when the Tigers won both games in walk-off style.
"But we know what we can do," Holland said. "This is a talented group."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.