KANSAS CITY — Pablo Lopez has many recollections of watching twins on tv as a boy in Venezuela. He grew up an enormous fan of Johan Santana – like each different younger Venezuelan on the time.
On Thursday, he joined Santana as the one Venezuelans to start out a gap day doubles recreation. And Lopez did one thing even his idol couldn’t do in a Minnesota uniform: win a kind of highway video games.
Armed with a brand new slider and trying to set the tempo for his new staff, in his first beginning day begin, Lopez pitched the Royals for five.1 innings as a part of a shutout of the Twins. 2-0 at Kaufman Area. Within the course of, Venezuela turned the staff’s first starter to win away from house on a gap day since Brad Radtke did it in 2003.
“It’s an enormous honor to be on any listing subsequent to Johan Santana’s title,” Lopez stated. “It’s positively one thing I’ll keep in mind perpetually.”
Whereas the Twins may have chosen one other one in all their starters, they went with Lopez to start out his first recreation of the 12 months after buying him in a winter commerce with the Marlins for the AL batting champion of Venezuela, Luis Arez.
“I do know what the Twins gave as much as get me right here with the opposite two,” Lopez stated. “However I don’t suppose it’s stress. Reasonably, it acts as motivation. There’s no stress. It’s like: ‘Okay, the staff believes in me. I’m going to reap the benefits of that.’ That’s what I attempted to do.”
That’s precisely what the Twins had in thoughts…and extra.
They already knew what Lopez needed to supply once they acquired him from the Marlins. They know he depends closely on a stable shift (as does Santana). However within the preseason, the pitcher emphasised including a deep slider to maintain opponents guessing. On Thursday, Lopez seemed like he had thrown that pitch of a lifetime. He completed with eight whereas permitting two hits and three walks in that 5 1/2 scoreless stretch.
Lopez threw a changeup as typically as a fastball final 12 months, however on Thursday he used a slider moderately than a changeup — with disastrous outcomes. He threw 19 instances. Royals hitters swung at 11 of them and missed at 8.
“We didn’t deliver him right here to exchange Pablo’s total profession,” Twins supervisor Rocco Baltelli stated. “He does plenty of issues effectively. I might name them little tweaks right here and there, possibly one in all them is the slider and the way you utilize it.”
And there have been outcomes. The Twins wouldn’t have gained their first recreation of the 12 months with out Lopez’s stable begin.
“We belief Pablo’s pitch,” Minnesota catcher Christian Vasquez stated.
Properly, now he’s obtained another in his arsenal… and that’s fairly cool.