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How Did Bonser DO That?

How do you walk seven, and not allow a single run?

There are a number of things I wanted to write about tonight.  Cuddyer on a slide since April 18, Kubel scorching the ball and finally getting results by going 5-for-12 over the last three games, Hunter taking a ball in the grill.  But alas, I don't feel like complaining about the offense, all I can say for Kubel is "it's about time, he's been putting good wood on the ball", and everyone knows I love Torii in a "dude, I'm a BIG fan" kind of way and I'm glad he's okay.  What's perplexing me tonight is the performance of Boof Bonser.

Thursday afternoon, Boof went five innings and struck out eight, walked seven, gave up three hits...and didn't allow a run to score.  How did he manage that?

  1.  With one out, Mark Grudzielanek doubles before Bonser walks Mark Teahen.  Reggie Sanders then grounds into a double play with two men on base, on Bonser's 17th pitch of the inning.
  2.  Sandwiching a strikeout of Emil Brown, Bonser walked Ross Gload and Alex Gordon on eight pitches in the second inning.  Bonser goes on to strike out the next two hitters, but throws 21 pitches in the inning.
  3.  Bonser escapes the third inning in 14 pitches, striking out Mark Grudzielanek, allowing a base hit and recording two ground outs.
  4.  In the fourth inning, Bonser strikes out Ross Gload, then continues to walk the bases full with Emil Brown, Alex Gordon and John Buck getting consecutive free passes.  Boof manages to retire a hacking Tony Pena, even though two pitches hit the dirt.  With two down, David DeJesus takes two balls and a strike before offering at a pitch, flying out to Jason Kubel.  Bonser threw 28 pitches to six hitters.
  5.  After allowing a base hit on the first pitch of the inning, Bonser strikes out Mark Teahen in a lengthy battle.  Reggie Sanders walks on six pitches, putting runners on first and second with one away.  On the fifth pitch to Ross Gload, he strikes out on a foul tip caught by Redmond.  Finally, after getting behind 3-1 to Emil Brown, Bonser fights back and after an extended battle at the plate sends him down swinging.  Bonser's last inning spanned another 28 pitches.
Bonser threw 108 pitches (half coming in the fourth and fifth), striking out eight.  Yet, only 54% of those pitches were strikes.  It seemed he went through stretches where he could hit his spots, and stretches where nothing was hitting it's mark.  Luckily, Kansas City's few hits came with nobody on base, and the defense made the plays it needed to make (including a nice catch by Bartlett in shallow left field, followed up by a nice relay to the plate in time for Redmond tag Reggie Sanders out at home).

There's been something a little funky with Boof so far this year.  Based off of a solid September and a postseason start, Bonser's expectations may have been high, but not many expected him to struggle as he has.

Starts   IP  Srike%  P/IP  OppOPS   K/9  BB/9
  5    25.2   58.7  18.04   .837  10.52  5.61

Honestly, I'm not quite sure what to make of those numbers.  He's striking out too many people, he's walking too many people, he's not throwing enough strikes and he's not nearly as effective on the whole as he was last year.

But I still believe that the "real" Boof will show up, the guy we counted on last fall.  More than likely, Bonser is going to start about 30 games this summer, give or take a couple.  If that's the case, he has plenty of time to get over whatever mechanical and control issues he's been having.  Nobody thinks Bonser will be an ace, and luckily, a couple of consecutive quality starts will turn this rough start right around.

There's one thing that still perplexes me.  For all the pitches and the lack of strikes, for the lack of control...what's with all the strikeouts?