Luke Hochevar was taken aback when he walked into the manager's office one day and manager Ned Yost and the Royals coaches started trying to convince him to make a change.
Simplify your approach, they said. Use your three core pitches.
It took a while for Hochevar to buy in.
Now the change is paying off.
The mercurial right-hander struck out eight in his second career shutout, and the Kansas City offense made sure to come through in an 8-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.
"I guess I have to come up with a better word than fantastic, tremendous and great.
He was phenomenal," Yost said. "The results have been dramatically improved since he got back to his three core pitches. He's starting to show exactly what he can do."
His arsenal pared down to primarily a four-seam fastball, curveball and change-up, Hochevar (5-7) mowed through a weak-hitting Tampa Bay lineup for his first shutout since Sept. 18, 2009.
Now, the pitcher who was allowing nearly a run per inning earlier in the year has gone 16 2-3 scoreless innings, and is starting to resembled a former No. 1 overall draft pick.
"That was a great outing by Hoch," said Eric Hosmer, who tacked on a homer in the eighth inning to finish off the scoring. "He was in the zone, he was pounding pitches. He was great."
Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon both had three hits for the Royals, who were coming off an embarrassing sweep at the hands of St. Louis in which they were outscored 30-14 and burned through their bullpen — which made the start by Hochevar all the more impressive.
No Royals starter had even gone eight innings so far this season.
"If you don't get him early and permit him to settle in, he gets better," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
"He was all over us tonight.”
Alex Cobb (3-4) also managed to throw a complete game, the first of his career, though it wasn't nearly as impressive: He allowed 13 hits while falling to 1-4 in his last five starts.
"In the first few innings, I just felt uncomfortable out there," he said. "Everything they were hitting was dropping. Unfortunately, they were falling everywhere."
The banged-up Rays came into the game riding plenty of momentum after a double-header sweep of Philadelphia, while the Royals limped in after their rough series against the Cardinals.