The Kansas City right-hander issued no walks in his second straight winning start and newly promoted Joey Gathright gave the Royals an immediate boost in a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.
“I tried to throw a lot of first-pitch strikes,” Bannister (2-3) said after beating Byrd (6-2), whose strike-throwing style he admires.
“One of my favorite pitchers is Paul Byrd,” said the 26-year-old son of former big-leaguer Floyd Bannister. “He knows how to pitch. He’s a good guy to emulate.”
For seven innings, Bannister baffled an Indians offense that had hit .303 and averaged 6.3 runs over its previous 23 games. He allowed one unearned run and four hits—following up his best career start of five days earlier.
Gathright, recalled from the minors in the afternoon when 2003 AL Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa was designated for assignment, had two hits, a stolen base, sacrifice bunt and run scored.
“He gives us some energy,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said of Gathright, who hit .374 at Triple-A Omaha since April 26.
“I just tried to do my job,” Gathright said. “I’m happy to help the team.”
Kansas City ended a three-game losing streak and won for only the third time in 13 games. The Royals scored three or fewer runs in nine of the 10 losses.
Acquired in a trade from the New York Mets in December, Bannister went 0-3 in six starts until getting his first AL win June 1 at Tampa Bay—when he allowed two hits and one run, striking out a career-high six in eight innings.
“Cleveland’s a different team,” Bannister said. “Tampa has young guys who like to swing it, but the Indians work the count. I tried to keep the ball down, take away their patience and make them hack against me.”
The Royals’ defense gave the Indians an unearned run in the sixth. Kelly Shoppach reached on a throwing error by third baseman Alex Gordon. Two outs later, Travis Hafner’s fly ball was misjudged by right fielder Mark Teahen. It fell for an RBI double, getting Cleveland within 4-1.
Dotel got Franklin Gutierrez to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
“He doesn’t always make it look as easy as you would like,” Bell said. “But he’s got good stuff. Our bullpen has been doing a good job.”
Gathright doubled to left to open the third and scored on David DeJesus’ double to right on the next pitch. DeJesus advanced on a groundout and scored on Teahen’s single to make it 2-0.
Ryan Shealy hit his third homer to open the fourth. He made it 4-0 in the fifth with an RBI groundout.
Byrd allowed four runs and 10 hits over six innings and lost for the first time in five starts since May 9. He struck out four and walked one—an intentional pass to DeJesus with one out in the sixth. Mark Grudzielanek then lined into a double play.
The walk was the first issued by Byrd in 48 1-3 innings since April 26.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “The team comes first. We got a double play out of it. That’s easy to take.
“The fact we came so close at the end makes me re-think everything I did. This one is my fault. This one is on me.”
Byrd was seeking to match his career-best five straight wins, accomplished in 2001 when he was with the Royals.
Cleveland fell to 16-7 in the AL Central, including 2-3 against the Royals. … Gordon’s second-inning single broke an 0-for-19 streak. … Indians 3B Blake went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 15 games. … Byrd’s walkless streak was the longest by an Indians pitcher since RHP Dick Donovan went 45 1-3 innings in 1963. … Bannister’s dad went 3-11 in his career against the Indians. A left-hander, Floyd Bannister was the first overall draft pick in 1976 by Houston and had a 134-143 career record for six clubs including the Royals through 1992.