A meaningless game was played in the Bronx Monday night, a day after the Yankees clinched the AL East. The Royals, going nowhere and playing with nothing to lose, faced a Yankee lineup with three regulars and a bunch of coffee cuppers. Chad Gaudin, who has done quite well for the Yankees since coming over from San Diego, would still not be considered one of the Yankees' core of starters. Young Luke Hochever started for the Royals against Gaudin.
Both pitchers kept their teams in the game for six innings. Guadin had given up two runs while Hochever had surrendered three. It was barely a quality start, but it was one nonetheless. And for Hochever, that could have been a good thing. Hochever has lost seven of his last eight decisions and really only pitched well in one of them. A decent start like this one could have bolstered his confidence a bit. But after giving up lone runs in three straight innings, why not let him get out of the game with some good feelings?
Royals' manager, Trey Hillman, sent Hochever back out there to start the seventh. Cervelli, who really looks like he should be the Yankees catcher of the future, doubles off the wall to lead off the inning. Take Hochever out now? Nope. Pena singled to right and Cervelli scored. Take Hochever out now? Nope. Brent Gardner singled the left. Pena made it first and third with no outs. Surely you take Hochever out now, right? Nope. Hochever then walked Melky Cabrera. If the Fan was a KC Royals' fan, he would be screaming at the television right about then, "TAKE HIM OUT OF THERE BEFORE HE GETS KILLED!"
Hillman stayed in the dugout. Predictably, Robinson Cano hit a grand slam and before you can say, "A Trey full of salami," the game is over, Hochever has an 8 in his run column and his psychie. What did Hillman want from Hochever? Did he want him to "man up" and get through the mess? Did he want to do the old saw that says a young pitcher learns by trial by fire?
Hillman had a chance to have Hochever bail out of there after six innings with a decent start. Instead Hillman sends him back out there. Hochever gives up two quick hits and another run and Hillman leaves him out there withering. After Cano, what could Hochever have been thinking? If it was the Fan, the natural reaction would be, "I suck." Right? Good job, Hillman.
Peter Gammons on Baseball Tonight said on Monday that the Royals have some very good young pieces to work with. While the Fan can see two or three, Gammons could be right. But as long as Hillman is there, the team will take the shortest distance to a defeat of any team in the majors. It seems totally uncanny how good Hillman is at making the wrong moves.
He may be a good guy and the Fan could feel bad for writing this. But man, it's hard enough when you don't have the horses. If the guy can't steer the carriage, it's just hopeless.