No lemon from Meyer this time
ANGELS 9, KANSAS CITY 0
Right-hander finds the command to match his stuff as Angels roll.
ANGELS 9 KANSAS CITY 0
Sitting on a dugout bench during Friday’s middle innings at Angel Stadium, Alex Meyer engaged Garrett Richards in an extended conversation about pitching. Richards has missed almost all of this season because of a strengthsapping irritated nerve in his biceps, but he has retained his plain perspective about how to retire major league hitters.
He instructed Meyer to concern himself less with where he was throwing his fastball and more about throwing it with conviction.
“Throw it 0-0,” Richards told him in his typically terse fashion. “Throw it over the middle. Let them try and hit it.”
Meyer did as advised and pitched the Angels to a 9-0 thrashing of Kansas City on Saturday night. When he first stepped to the mound, he missed wildly with his first three fastballs to the Royals’ Whit Merrifield. He stopped atop the mound, thought of his teammate, unwound his 6-foot-9 frame, and tried merely to fire a fastball somewhere over the strike zone. He started to throw strikes.
“I’m not saying that’s the whole key to everything tonight,” Meyer said. “But that definitely played into it.”
Meyer’s season to date has offered a study in what a major league pitcher can achieve when he throws as hard as anyone and fires off curveballs as sharp as anyone, but lacks the ability to repeat his delivery on command and, thus, throw consistently to an exact area.
Early results have proved passable. His 4.05 earnedrun average entering Saturday was better than anyone expected. On Saturday night at Angel Stadium, Meyer added an experimental group: What happens when he just throws the ball inside the strike zone as often as possible?
“This is one of the games that you hope for, where he bottled the stuff with command,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He was in the zone with terrific stuff all afternoon.”
Through five innings, Meyer struck out eight without walking anyone. His defense failed him in the sixth. Yunel Escobar bobbled Drew Butera’s leadoff grounder. Andrelton Simmons quickly started a double play on Merrifield’s subsequent grounder, but second baseman Danny Espinosa did not secure the ball before he tried to throw to first base and dropped it. Both Royals runners were safe.
The same two infielders collaborated to complete a successful double play when Jorge Bonifacio next grounded to short. After Meyer walked Lorenzo Cain, he struck out Eric Hosmer with his hurtling curveball and bounded off the mound knowing the best start of his career was over.
Blake Parker handled the seventh, returning righthander Cam Bedrosian the eighth, and long man Yusmeiro Petit the ninth.
Cameron Maybin redirected Jakob Junis’ first pitch of the game into center field for a leadoff home run. Making the fourth start of his major league career, Junis hit two Angels back to back in the second inning but otherwise evaded hard contact until the fourth, when Luis Valbuena, Simmons, Martin Maldonado, and Danny Espinosa strung together singles, the last scoring two runs.
The Angels (36-36) added four runs in the seventh, three scoring when Valbuena swatted a fastball into the right-field bleachers. Maybin doubled, stole third, and scampered home on a groundout for the fourth.
ANGELS STARTER Alex Meyer pitches during the third inning against Kansas City on Saturday. Meyer gave up two hits and struck out nine over six innings in the Angels’ 9-0 victory over the Royals.