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Royal pitching awakens Konerko's bat

Mark Buehrle's streak of hitless baseball ended at 15 innings Monday night. His run of dominance reached 19 innings, during which he allowed 4 baserunners on just 2 hits. That's a pretty amazing run for a pitcher who's amassed a H/9 of 9.6 over his last 4 seasons.

With Buehrle turning back into a pumpkin, a nicely carved, award-winning pumpkin, but pumpkin nonetheless, the hero of the night was yesterday's goat, Paul Konerko. If I had been able to write a recap last night, I would have half-mockingly said that I was encouraged that Konerko was still striking out with authority. (Check his 2003 stats to understand why that's only partially a joke.) Tonight after the game, I read that Konerko was surprisingly self aware (and spot on) about his struggles at the plate.

"I stopped carrying about strikeouts a long time ago. The way I see it, when I strike out, I don't run to first and show off how slow I am. Obviously you don't want to strike out in a key situation, but a lot of times, it sounds funny, but when I'm doing the right thing at the plate, my strikeouts are higher than when I'm doing the wrong thing. When I'm doing the wrong thing, the ball gets put in play on the ground. When I'm doing the right thing, I have good at-bats and hit. But my bad at-bats that go bad, are strikeouts just because of what I'm doing."
Konerko used that knowledge to help him turn around his miserable, 3-strikeout, 8 LOB performance Sunday into a 2-HR, 5-RBI Monday night.
* * * * *

I was beginning to think that Matt Thornton was injured when I saw Andy Sisco enter the game in the 8th. Thornton had two days off in a row, and Ozzie used Boone Logan over him to ice the game for the Tigers yesterday. Thornton did show up eventually in the 8th, but only because Sisco started having flashbacks to his days with the Royals. He was clearly overthrowing, with his fastball 1-2 MPH faster than we've usually seen it; he even fell off the mound at one point trying to snap off a breaking ball. He was pulled after giving up as many walks in one-third of an inning as he had issued in his previous 9 appearances.

Bobby Jenks made things interesting in the 9th. The Royals didn't seem to have a hard time hitting him even though he was sitting at 95MPH on the gun, and touched 96 on both the CSN and RSTN readouts. I don't think we're going to see Bobby any faster than that this year. I'll now be waiting to see if he can get back to climbing the ladder with his fastball to put hitters away.