MHS baseball may have turned the corner

By Steve Sell
April 18, 2017

Tuesday’s thoughts...

STRONG PERFORMANCE FOR BASEBALL BULLPUPS – During every successful season, there’s always a turning point.

That might have happened for the McPherson High baseball team on Monday.

In the throes of a three-game losing streak, the Bullpups had a formidable task on their plate by going on the road to take on Rose Hill, the third-place team in Class 4A each of the last three years.

While it wasn’t quite the Rose Hill team of the past, the Rockets still had some good players, most notably All-Stater Griffin McBride.

But MHS went into hostile territory and emerged with 8-1 and 12-1 wins.

For the Bullpups, it’s all about throwing strikes. Dylan Werries and Jack Reifschneider were both on their games and delivered gems. In MHS’ five wins this season, the pitching staff has allowed three combined runs.

And the MHS offense, which had been slumbering, broke out of it with 20 runs. While the Bullpups don’t powder the ball, they cobble together rallies with singles and heads-up baserunning.

This is an MHS team that has a lot of potential and Monday’s games showed how really good it can be.

• ROYALS REBOUNDING — Now that Royals’ fans have taken a chill pill as they have rebounded from a 2-6 start to get back to .500 after a four-game winning streak, there’s still some areas they need improvement in.

First off, though, the starting pitching is beyond remarkable. Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas, Jason Hammel and Nathan Karns make up the best starting five in baseball in terms of ERA so far, though their track records would indicate they’ll come back to earth at some point.

Duffy and Kennedy have had one good year in their careers. Vargas traditionally is a .500 pitcher. Hammel had the good fortune to have the Chicago Cubs’ offense behind him last year while Karns is still an unknown quantity as this point though he’s also thought of as a .500 pitcher.

The bullpen appears to have straightened out after the first-week implosion, which was mostly Matt Strahm going all Rick Ankiel by losing his compass on his pitches. Travis Wood contributed to the bloated bullpen numbers as well, but he’s been a good pitcher in the past and there’s no reason he won’t find his form.

But that offense, geesh. Despite getting back to level-par at 6-6, the offense is still a head shaker. Lorenzo Cain (.350), Mike Moustakas (.293) and Salvador Perez (.289) are the only Royals swinging a reasonable bat. To show how reliant the Royals have been on the home run so far, both Moose and Salvy have 5 homers, but Moutakas has only 6 RBIs and Perez 7. KC has 15 as a team, but has scored only 38 runs in 12 games, just over three a pop.

Eric Hosmer is the face of the franchise, but he’s hitting just .196 as he’s basically getting himself out as his plate discipline is approaching that of Perez and Alcides Escobar. Homser has just 3 walks so far. If you take away Cain, who has 11 walks, the rest of the team has just 23 in 12 games and that’s with Brandon Moss having a half-dozen.

At least the Royals can now relax since they’re back in the hunt, but the rest of the week is brutal. They host San Francisco for two, then head to Texas for four, where they typically play some really bad baseball. A 3-3 week would be greatly acceptable.

• TOUGH TO BE A CARDINALS FAN — As hard as it has been at times this year for Royals fans, try being a Cardinals fan such as myself.

The Cardinals outlasted Pittsburgh 2-1 on Monday, but they are 4-9 and still licking their wounds after a tough weekend in the Bronx as they were swept by the Yankees.

The Cardinals, normally a run-producing machine, have been wretched offensively, they are horrible on defense and the bullpen is performing like Kansas City’s did during the first week.

History tells us the Cardinals will bounce back, but they need to string together four or five wins in a row. They have to get back to .500 before they can feel good about themselves.