Welcome to the latest edition of the Vulture Report. Continuing last week’s theme of all Vultures not being equal I present this week’s trio.
May 30th. Kelvin Herrera of the Kansas City Royals. Known as one of the heads of that three headed monster called the back of the Royals Bullpen. Ever since he joined KC coming up through their system Kelvin has shown some serious heat. He’s been dominant and consistent for the last six years. It’s pretty tough to make solid contact and do any kind of damage when he’s on the mound.
Tough doesn’t mean impossible and on this day the Rays were able to do just that. With a 1 run lead the 8th inning started with Evan Longoria striking out swinging. Steve Pearce though managed a base hit and reached first base. Logan Morrison grounded out to Herrera but it was enough to advance Pearce to second. Steven Sousa Jr. managed some solid contact with a single to the outfield. Pearce scored the tying run. Corey Dickerson would end the frame striking out.
Clearly Kelvin’s weakness that day was hitters named Steve or Steven. Alas, Kevin Cash ran out of Steves to put in the batters box. Despite the hits you can’t really say this was a poor performance for Kelvin. He allowed two hits, but they were both singles. It just so happens the ground out advanced the tying run to second. Say what you will about strikeouts being fascist but it prevents any runners from going anywhere and it’s the least productive out to make outside of a double/triple-play.
In the bottom of the frame the Royals did what they do best: score late and often (sounds eerily like my last year in college). They knocked in 4 runs to leave any doubt behind as to which team would win. Kelvin got a W out of it, undeserving of course. For this we award him the Bearded Vulture:
June 4th, 2016. Ross Olhendorf of the Cincinnati Reds. Ross is a pretty average relief arm. He’s had his ups/downs. He’s been good, bad and ugly in various stretches of his career. It’s not surprising he had a vulture, what’s surprising is the Reds bailing him out of a blown save.
His performance wasn’t all that bad, it’s just that with a 1 run lead, you have the thinnest of margins for errors. So you can’t make a single mistake. Like this 95 MPH fastball belt-high over the plate on a 3-0 count.
I know it’s Danny Espinosa (he with OPS+ of 69), but you have two outs dude. Let him have first base. Part of the problem was falling behind in the 3-0 count. I suspect that they thought Espinosa had a red light and decided to throw the automatic strike. Fortunately for Ross, in the bottom of the frame Adam Duvall punished Felipe Rivero with a 3 run shot. I hope buys him the obligatory beer. We award Ross with the White Backed Vulture:
June 5th, 2016. Xavier Cedeno of the Tampa Bay Rays. This is called paying it forward. The Rays beat the Twins yesterday and Cedeno vultured the win. I fully expect the Twins to have their own vulture this week.
Charged with preserving a 1 run lead (which seems to be the theme of the week) Xavier had a 2-2 count on Eduardo Nunez (first hitter). And what should have been a swinging strike three at an 80 MPH curveball in the dirt became this:
How the HELL did he do that? I kind of feel sorry for Xavier here, though not too much, what’s that X in your name? What, you fancy yourself some fancy ass Spaniard aristocrat? You’re from Puerto Rico, use an effin’ J already, J’s are the Spanish version of H. The only guy allowed to have an X like that is Proffesor X from the X-Men.
Back to the pitch: he put the ball exactly where he wanted to, he got the swing he wanted. He just didn’t get the result. Fortune smiled on Xavier in the 9th though. His team-mates bailed him out with a 2 run frame and he got the W. Even a blind squirrel will find a nut every so often. We award Ross the Palm Nut Vulture:
And there you have it. Join us next week, as we continue to explore the various species of vultures in Major League Baseball.