09/19/09 12:28 AM ET
Hochevar stifles White Sox in first shutout
Olivo drives in career-high six, backs righty's three-hit gem
By Jesse Temple / MLB.com
Hochevar, who was told recently that he had been tipping his pitches to opponents, threw like a pitcher who finally had his troubles figured out Friday night. He allowed just three hits while tossing his first career shutout in an 11-0 victory against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Offensively, designated hitter Miguel Olivo provided the spark, collecting a career-high six RBIs with pair of two-run homers, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly.
Hochevar had gone 10 starts without a victory, losing all seven decisions during that span, when it came to light that he may have been providing batters with too much information. But the only tip Hochevar offered Friday was that he wouldn't allow the thought of tipping his pitches to enter his mind from this point on.
"It's been tough," Hochevar said. "Having this last little stretch here, I've had so many ups and downs and tipping pitches and worrying about tipping pitches and trying to fix that. Tonight, all I wanted to do was make my adjustments so I'm not tipping and just don't even think about it. Just go out and make good pitches."
On Friday, he certainly did.
The 26-year-old right-hander was downright dominant, particularly during the middle innings.
He shut down the White Sox on just five pitches in a scoreless fourth, retiring A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Kotsay on one pitch each. And in the fifth, Hochevar (7-10) set the White Sox down in order on eight pitches.
Only four White Sox batters reached base all night, with singles coming from Dewayne Wise, Scott Podsednik and Chris Getz and a walk issued to Alexei Ramirez. Both Podsednik and Getz were immediately erased with double plays. Hochevar finished the game with five strikeouts and one walk, throwing 105 pitches (76 for strikes).
"The first base hit he gave up to Wise, he hung a breaking ball," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "But it didn't make him fearful of throwing it. He mixed his two-seam and his four-seam very good, and he located some sliders better than he has."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen sarcastically suggested that Podsednik and Getz's base knocks should have counted as half-hits.
"We got two," Guillen said. "I think this kid threw the ball pretty good. I always give credit to the guy who deserves credit. The kid who threw for them was throwing the ball real well. Cutters and sinkers. Breaking balls. He threw strikes."
The Royals won for the ninth time in 11 games by slowly chipping away at White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle. They scored one run in the third and two in the sixth before finally knocking Buehrle (12-9) from the contest with nobody out in the seventh. In total, Kansas City tallied 13 hits and now has collected at least 10 hits in six straight games and 11 of its past 12.
Kansas City third baseman Alex Gordon led off the third with a double off the wall in right-center and came around to score without the benefit of a base hit. Buehrle walked Willie Bloomquist, Billy Butler and Olivo successively, bringing in Gordon with two outs for a 1-0 lead.
In the sixth, Olivo hit his 22nd home run this season, on a 1-2 pitch, tucking Buehrle's offering just inside the left-field foul pole, a two-run shot that scored Butler and handed a 3-0 edge to Hochevar, who was downright dominant in the middle innings.
Buehrle exited the contest with nobody out in the seventh after surrendering back-to-back singles. The final batter he faced, David DeJesus, smacked a single to right field, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games.
Kansas City improved to 60-87, but remained in last place in the American League Central, one game behind Cleveland for fourth place.
"Somebody needs to tell those guys at the beginning of the year they are out of it and they would go to the playoffs and win the World Series," Buehrle said. "It seems like every year, that last month, they play their best baseball against teams trying to win the division. They have a good young team over there."
With White Sox reliever Tony Pena in, the Royals pushed home three more runs. Following an intentional walk to Butler, Olivo tallied his fourth RBI on the night with a sacrifice fly to center. Alberto Callaspo then poured it on with a triple, scoring both Bloomquist and Butler for a 6-0 Royals lead.
Olivo added his second home run of the game, another two-run blast, in the eighth. It was his third multihomer game, and his first since June 27, 2006, against the Rays.
If it wasn't Olivo's best game, it sure ranked high on his list.
"It's one of my best," Olivo said. "I think my best game is my first game when I come to the big leagues, of course. But it's a good game. I'm happy, excited. My teammates enjoy it. I enjoy it. My family enjoys it. I think everybody enjoys it."
None more so than Hochevar, who earned his first victory since July 25.
"Even though I've been going through that stretch, I felt like I've been throwing the ball well," Hochevar said. "I felt like I was making pitches and sooner or later it was going to break. Luckily, it finally happened."
Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.