Kansas City, Mo. — Luke Hochevar is finally beginning to pitch the way the Kansas City Royals hoped he would be after selecting him first overall in the 2006 draft.
Hochevar went eight strong innings, and Billy Butler homered to lead the Royals to a 5-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Hochevar (5-2), the only Royals starter with a winning record, held the Rangers to two runs on six hits, striking out four and walking none. In winning his past two starts, Hochevar has allowed five runs on 10 hits in 17 innings.
“You can’t pitch any better than he’s pitched the last two games,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “All the ingredients are there for him to be an ultra-successful American League pitcher. He’s throwing the ball as good as you can possibly throw it. Today it was against a real good hitting club. They’ve got speed; they’ve got dangerous power in the middle of that lineup. He was right on top of his game. He was fantastic.”
Hochevar, who entered this season with a 13-26 record and 5.88 earned-run average, said he is gaining confidence.
“Success always comes before confidence,” Hochevar said. “I feel comfortable on the mound. I feel my game plan has worked quite a few times this year. I trust in it. There’s a lot of thump in that lineup. You’ve got to be more aggressive, getting ahead in the counts, ’cause if you fall into fastball counts with that team — a good fastball-hitting team — that’s when they do their damage.”
Butler went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .348, second in the American League. He led off the sixth with his fifth home run to snap a 2-2 tie.
“It’s quite impressive to watch a young man have that good of an idea and that good of an eye and put together consistent good at-bats time after time after time,” Yost said.
Joakim Soria worked a flawless ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances and the 100th of his career.
“It means a lot because it’s a good number to reach, but I want more,” Soria said.