Early-season ERAs, like batting averages, can be deceiving. A big game at the plate or a rough inning on the mound can have thrilling or devastating impacts on the stat sheet.
Such is the case for Kansas City Royals left-hander Kris Bubic after one start.
Bubic (0-1, 67.50 ERA) will face Detroit right-hander Matt Manning (0-0, 1.50 ERA). A strong performance from Bubic could go a long way toward helping the Royals snap a five-game losing streak.
The last two games in that skid have come in the first two games of a four-game set with the visiting Tigers. They took Friday’s game 2-1 thanks to a two-run homer by Spencer Torkelson in the seventh inning.
The Royals managed just one unearned run off starter Tarik Skubal and three relievers. Royals starter Brad Keller gave up the two runs on three hits over seven innings.
Bubic made his season debut on April 10. The Royals were riding high after opening the season with two narrow victories over the Cleveland Guardians, including a walk-off 1-0 win in 10 innings the day before.
The left-hander struggled from the start, recording only two outs before manager Mike Matheny pulled him with the bases loaded. Reliever Taylor Clarke promptly gave up a grand slam, leaving Bubic charged with five runs.
Bubic fell behind five of the seven batters he faced and didn’t get a swing-and-miss on any of his 29 pitches. He fell behind 3-0 to the leadoff man before battling back to a full count, but eventually walked him. Bubic knew it would be a long day, and it resulted in the fewest batters he had ever faced in a start in the majors.
“It sets the tone for everything, getting ahead in the count,” Bubic said after that start. “You’re able to use every pitch. I didn’t use any sliders today. (I) really didn’t feel like I had the chance to because I had my back against the wall right away. All self-inflicted, of course. The guys in the first two games of the series were great. It’s a day to forget. We’ll move on to the next.”
Bubic is 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA in five appearances against the Tigers, including four starts. The Tigers have won the first games of all three series they’ve played this year, but they lost the subsequent two games to the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox.
Manning was outstanding in his season debut, allowing just one run on one hit in six innings against the Boston Red Sox. That one hit was a solo home run by J.D. Martinez.
“Super aggressive in the strike zone,” manager AJ Hinch said of Manning’s performance. “It was really impressive that he was so efficient early in the game. They came out swinging and he didn’t get scared out of the strike zone. He continued to pound away.
“He was very much in control. One pitch to J.D. didn’t ruin his night.”
–Field Level Media