The Kansas City Royals took a chance on Jonathan Broxton this offseason. The mammoth, hard-throwing right-handed reliever lost his spot as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer last season because of how shaky he was in clutch situations. But the Royals took a flyer on him and were hoping he could revive his career.
With Joakim Soria, the team’s All-Star closer, out for the season after reconstructive elbow surgery, Broxton now has his chance to prove that he still belongs as a reliever who can handle high-tension situations. Unfortunately that experiment isn’t going well.
On Wednesday afternoon the Royals took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the 12th inning against the Oakland A’s and turned the ball over to Broxton. They would soon regret that decision.
The 27-year-old stuck out Daric Barton looking before Seth Smith reached on an error by shortstop Alcides Escobar. That clearly shook Broxton up as he proceeded to walk Jemile Weeks (on four pitches) and Eric Sogard to load the bases.
Coco Crisp then grounded out to second, scoring Smith to tie the game, and sending Weeks to third and Sogard to second with two outs.
Yoenis Cespedes stepped in next and on the first pitch Broxton hit him, loading the bases. Pitching coach Dave Eiland immediately made a trip to the mound to try and calm the 6’4, 300-pound gas can.
Broxton tried to compose himself, then looked in, rose his leg, started his windup and sent a fastball flying towards the plate. And – again on the first pitch – he hit Jonny Gomes on the left hip to force in the winning run (you can watch the video here).
Game over, A’s win 5-4.
Broxton has made three appearances this year, and has pitched 2.2 innings, allowing two hits, three runs (one earned), while walking two and striking out four. Thanks to the fact that the runs in Wednesday’s game were all unearned, his ERA sits at 3.38 thus far. But against the A’s in that disaster of an inning he threw 24 pitches and only 10 went for strikes.
We’ll see how many more chances Broxton gets to close games in Kansas City.
UPDATE: Apparently today Broxton became the first pitcher in 46 years to hit two consecutive batters to end a game.