Davis breaks script, escapes eighth-inning jam with one devastating curve
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As the curveball descended into the high, outside corner of the strike zone, all Scooter Gennett could do was watch. Three Brewers teammates stood 90 feet apart from each other. They were simple spectators as well.
Wade Davis froze Gennett with an 85-mph curveball on the seventh pitch of the eighth-inning standoff, preserving a slim lead and ushering the Royals to a 3-2 win over Milwaukee. The victory was Kansas City's fourth in a row and kept Minnesota 3 1/2 games back in the American League Central.
Gennett had seen an onslaught of fastballs that touched 97 mph. Counting the previous two hitters, Davis had fired 15 consecutive fastballs. Then the hook came.
"After a lot of fastballs, you try to make the guy see something different," catcher Salvador Perez said. "I trust Wade Davis 100 percent, no matter what count, I feel comfortable to call whatever pitch I want, whatever pitch I think is the right pitch in that situation.
"I don't be afraid never with him. Never, never. I never be afraid with him."
Davis said he wanted that pitch to bounce in front of the plate, thinking Gennett's aggressiveness would yield a swinging strike three. But the ball started high and ended in the zone, ending the Milwaukee uprising and quelling the Brewers' scoring threat.
"Not too many people are looking for a high curveball," Davis said.
Prior to Gennett, Davis needed to tiptoe around the heart of the Brewers' lineup. Gerardo Parra led off with a single and, two batters later, stole second base. Ryan Braun reached on an error by Alcides Escobar. Adam Lind walked.
The bases were loaded with one out, the tying run at third and the go-ahead run standing at second. Royals manager Ned Yost allowed himself to become a fan during the game's biggest moments.
"That's what makes the game interesting," Yost said. "That's what makes it fun."
Davis induced a pop-out from Aramis Ramirez that held the runners at bay. Then the battle with Gennett ensued. The first two pitches failed to land in the strike zone. Three of the next four Gennett fought off. The count was even and Davis changed the plan with a curveball.
"Just giving him a different look, a little bit of a wrinkle in the pitch," Yost said. "It was a tremendous pitch."
The pitch was the last of Davis' 23 and paved the way for Greg Holland to shut down the ninth inning. It was Holland's 12th save.