Wind bothers Bannister, Royals
Right-hander uncharacteristically gives up three homers
ARLINGTON -- A blustery Texas wind blew up big trouble for the Royals and Brian Bannister.
Five home runs were sent soaring out of the ballpark by the Rangers -- three against Bannister -- and they knocked off the Royals, 11-9, as 17,705 fans watched baseballs and hotdog wrappers fly on Wednesday night.
"I felt like I was pitching on the moon tonight," Bannister said.
For their part, the Royals came up with two homers, both two-run blows by David DeJesus and John Buck, but they fell short.
"We were playing catch-up the whole game. We just couldn't catch up," Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said.
Bannister gave up a two-run homer to Milton Bradley in the first inning. Then rookie Brandon Boggs hit the first of his career in the second. Later in that inning, Josh Hamilton crashed a grand slam for a 7-0 lead.
The wind kept blowing capriciously through Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"That was Coors Field on steroids tonight," Bannister said.
Just how hard was that wind blowing?
"After I'd given up a couple [of homers], I jokingly picked up a clump of grass and threw it to see how far it'd go and it didn't come down," Bannister said.
The wind also buffeted his pitches and messed with his ability to locate the ball.
"When it's that windy, it's going to affect the break of your breaking balls and the location of your offspeed stuff," Hillman said.
A fly-ball pitcher, Bannister purposely kept trying to throw low, lower and lowest to batters in an effort to counteract the forces of nature.
That's how he happened to load the bases for Hamilton.
"There's no way in a normal game that I would walk Michael Young to load the bases for the guy with the most RBIs in the American League," Bannister said. "That's the dumbest thing you could do."
Bannister's pitch to Hamilton actually was on the inside corner to the left-handed hitter. He managed to "inside-out" his swing and drove it into the left-center-field bullpen. With the wind's help, asserted catcher Buck.
"Although he hit it well and he's a strong guy, I don't think that ball goes out to left-center on the grand slam. That's a huge at-bat," Buck said.
Bannister left after three innings and 90 pitches. The smash he took on his shin in his previous outing did not bother him. The wind did.
"I'm not a home-run pitcher. I never have been. The way the fastball cuts, it's never generated a lot of home runs," Bannister said. "On a night like tonight, all the odds were stacked against me.
"The ball was coming off their bats like a Super Ball."
David Murphy's two-run blow off Joel Peralta in the fifth inning gave the Rangers a 9-1 lead. The Royals finally came back against starter Kevin Millwood in the seventh.
When DeJesus cracked his home run to right field, the Royals cut the lead to 9-5 and Millwood was relieved. He testified to the power of the wind, too.
"A couple of times it blew you off balance a little bit, but it was probably tougher on the position players," Millwood said. "That was the hardest I've seen the wind blow, since I've been here at least."
The Royals squeezed out another run against reliever Frank Francisco, and it was 9-6. However in the bottom half, Gerald Laird popped the Rangers' fifth homer off reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta for two more runs.
When Buck teed off in the ninth against closer C.J. Wilson, the gap once again was cut to two runs. But Wilson promptly slammed the door.
It was the second straight night the Royals scored nine runs, their high in a game this season.
"We've had good production two nights in a row, and that's a good sign for us," Hillman said.
But the Rangers had more production this time around. For the Royals, it was a game gone with the wind.
"Both teams pitched with it and both teams hit with it," Buck said. "They just hit a few more in the air than we did."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.