Zumaya hits 102 on radar gun
Joel Zumaya is no longer looking over his shoulder at stadium radar gun to see how hard he’s throwing. He knows his manager doesn’t like it when he does that. The only way he had any idea he was hitting 102 mph at Kauffman Stadium on Monday was from his teammates in the bullpen.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t feel like I was throwing that hard today,” Zumaya said later.
It wasn’t exactly a priority for him. He was more concerned about throwing his curveball for strikes. The result was a nasty combination for Royals hitters and a seven-pitch sixth inning in which Zumaya sent down the side in order, getting the Tigers back to the plate for the top of the seventh to take the lead.
“Basically, I just wanted to go out there and get the hitters back in, so they could go out there and provide the runs they did,” Zumaya said.
Zumaya got second-pitch grounders from Jose Guillen and Willie Bloomquist, both on 101-mph fastballs, before he unleashed a nasty three-pitch combination to Yuniesky Betancourt. He spotted back-to-back 83 mph curveballs to start off Betancourt — the first for a called strike, the next one fouled off — before blowing his 102 mph fastball past him for a foul tip into catcher Gerald Laird’s mitt for strike three.
“I know when he’s got the good fastball, and I know the days when he’s going to have to use his breaking ball a little more,” Laird said. “I can tell [how fast it is] by receiving it. But his curveball was really good tonight, and that’s going to be a plus pitch for him to have.”
It’s that curveball that had Zumaya really pleased.
“I wanted to do what I did, get my breaking ball over early, feed off of that and climb the ladder on the fastball,” Zumaya said. “It happened just the way I wanted it to.”
It happened at the same place where Zumaya has had defining moments in his career. He made his major league debut here in 2006, when the Tigers opened the season in Kansas City. It was here, too, that Zumaya had the first of his many injuries over the past few years when he ruptured a tendon in his right middle finger while warming up in the bullpen. He’s clearly hoping this is the start of something big for him again.