Small change paying off for Meche
Kansas City (28-34) vs. Arizona (27-37), 7:10 p.m. CT
KANSAS CITY -- Gil Meche started talking about it as soon as his May 30 start against the White Sox was over.
He'd been in a month-long rut, and his ERA in May was close to 5.00.
So in a last-ditch effort to makes things right, he moved over six inches to the left side of the rubber.
He had better command of his breaking pitches, and he was striking out more people. In short, Meche was nasty again.
More than two weeks later, Meche is still on a roll. He threw seven shutout innings against Cleveland in his last start, and his ERA is 0.69 in two starts in June.
"Three starts in a row, it's been pretty good," said Meche, who will take the mound on Tuesday in the Royals' series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
So that's it? Moving six inches to his left was the only reason Meche started dealing again?
"I mean, my back feels better," Meche said. "My back was killing me for a month. If you look at the numbers I had within those starts, you could pretty much tell something was different."
Meche's problems surfaced on April 28, when he gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings against Toronto and left the game early with tightness in his lower back.
He gave up another five runs in 4 1/3 against Baltimore on May 14, and he lasted just 2 1/3 in a loss to Detroit on May 25.
The pain, which Meche says started in January, comes and goes. But for the last three weeks, he's been pain free.
"I think in Gil's case it's a matter of his body feeling better along with the adjustment on the rubber," said Royals manager Trey Hillman.
That Meche has started June with two quality starts isn't a big shock. June has traditionally been Meche's best month. He's posted a 2.95 ERA in June and his 19 wins are more than in any other month.
Of course, that could attributed to the fact that Meche has always dominated the National League, and the majority of Interleague games come in the month of June. He's 13-4 with a 3.55 ERA in Interleague games in his career.
"It's just a matter of getting some innings under my belt and getting off to a roll," Meche said. "I've always pitched pretty good against Interleague teams, which usually happens in June, so that's probably the case with my record in June."
With his June and Interleague successes working in Meche's favor, he might finally be able to pick up his first win at Kauffman Stadium, where he's 0-3 with a 5.93 ERA this season.
Meche says his struggles at home were one of the key factors in his decision to slide over to the left side of the mound.
"It was more just out of anger pitching here," he said.
So Meche went to Royals pitching coach Bob McClure, told him he needed to do something, and they made the move. And now Meche is back, and the confidence is building.
"I always go out there to pitch thinking I'm going to win," Meche said. "But when you go out there and do it, your next start you feel more comfortable that you're able to repeat pitches."Pitching matchup
KC: RHP Gil Meche (3-5, 3.70 ERA)
Meche pitched his third straight effective game last Wednesday night at Cleveland, shutting out the Indians for seven innings on four hits. He also notched 11 strikeouts to match his career high. Although he has gotten no decision in two of his last three games, he's given up just three earned runs in a total of 20 innings in that stretch. By moving his push-off foot closer to the first-base side of the rubber, he's improved his offspeed pitches and his location has been much sharper. Last year Meche beat Arizona, 8-3, with 7 1/3 strong innings and 10 strikeouts. ARI: LHP Doug Davis (3-7, 3.65 ERA)
Davis is looking to rebound from his shortest outing of the season, a four-inning start against the Giants on Wednesday, and get back on track. The veteran left-hander has one win in his last eight starts and went the entire month of May without a win. In his last outing, Davis was charged with five runs (two earned) on six hits in the 101-pitch outing against the Giants. Davis is 2-2 with a 5.01 ERA in his career against the Royals, a familiar foe that dates back to his American League days with Texas. Crown Points
The Royals have already signed seven players from last week's MLB First-Year Player Draft. Those signed included 10th-round pick Geoffrey Baldwin, a first-baseman from Grand Junction, Colo., 11th-rounder Ryan Wood, a shortstop from East Carolina, and 12th-rounder Nicholas Wooley, a right-handed pitcher from William Woods University. ... The Royals are 22-15 when Willie Bloomquist starts, and they're 19-8 when he records a hit. Tickets
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Wednesday: Royals (Zack Greinke, 8-2, 1.72) vs. Diamondbacks (Max Scherzer, 3-4, 3.63), 7:10 p.m. CT
Thursday: Royals (Luke Hochevar, 2-2, 5.60) vs. Diamondbacks (Dan Haren, 5-4, 2.20), 7:10 p.m. CT
Friday: Royals (Kyle Davies, 3-6, 5.14) vs. Cardinals (TBD), 7:10 p.m. CT
Rustin Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.