The Royals will be represented by two players at this year’s All-Star game at Citi Field in New York.
Left fielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez were elected by their fellow players as All-Star reserves. This will be the first All-Star roster appearance for both Royals.
Gordon and Perez are in the midst of very solid and productive seasons, both at the plate and in the field.
Offensively, Alex Gordon is currently 3rd among qualifying AL left fielders in batting average (.293) , OBP (.359), and OPS (.794), 2nd in hits (95), 4th in RBI (47), and 1st in grand slams (2). On the other side of the ball, Gordo has been even better, ranking 1st among AL left fielders in games started (81), total innings (704.2), total chances (160), putouts (152), assists (8), errors (0), and fielding percentage (1.000%). He ranks 2nd among American League left fielders with a 2.5 WAR.
Salvador Perez has been just as dependable for Kansas City this season. He ranks 2nd among qualifying AL catchers in batting average (.302), and hits (79), 5th in RBI (36), 7th in doubles (15), and 6th in total bases (110). On defense, Salvy ranks 3rd in games played (71), games started (67), innings (584.2), 5th in total chances (531) and putouts (486), 1st in assists (40) and passed balls (0). He currently ranks 3rd among AL catchers with a WAR of 2.3.
While Gordon has been mentioned in All-Star talks for the past few seasons (he was up for the final player vote in 2011), this is new territory for Salvador Perez. While many scouts and executives around the league believed that Perez would be an All-Star caliber catcher at some point in his career, nobody figured it would be this soon; after all, this is his first full season at the major league level. But he has already proven to everyone around the league that he is one of the more complete catchers in all of baseball. And what is even crazier is that he has so much more time and room to become even better.
The 2013 All-Star game will mark the first time the Royals have had two players make the American League roster since 2003 (Mike Sweeney & Mike MacDougal) and the first time the Royals have been represented by two position players in the Mid-Summer Classic since 2000 (Mike Sweeney & Jermaine Dye).
The 2013 All-Star game will take place on Tuesday, July 16th at 7 PM CT on FOX.
It’s that time of year, folks. The time when you’ll see whispers turn to rumors and rumors get shot down. But every once in a while, one of those rumors will come to fruition.
This, my friends, is trade season.
The Royals have already begun their trading season by swapping one under-performing pitcher for another when they shipped Jonathan Sanchez to Colorado in exchange for veteran innings-eater Jeremy Guthrie (both of whom were traded this offseason to their former teams in exchange for an All-Star).
So with the July 31st trade deadline just over a week away, let’s look at those on the Royals’ roster whose names have been floating around the league.
You only haven’t heard Jonathan Broxton trade rumors if you don’t pay attention to baseball at all. The 28-year old heavy-weight champion of the big leagues is having a resurgent season on a team who currently has no true, over-riding need for a top-tier closer. Now is Broxton truely a top-tier guy at his position? Absolutley not. But it’s hard to argue with the results: 34 games, 1-2, 22 of 26 saves converted, 2.34 ERA, 1 HR surrendered.
But Broxton does have his demons that us Royals fans have become accustomed to. Of his 26 save chances, Broxton has faced the minimum of three batters a total of 8 times and has given up 34 hits in 34.1 IP. So needless to say, he’s hardly unhittable. But he gets the job done, and that’s the bottom line when it comes to closers.
Being that he is the best available closer in a trade thus far, teams in a playoff/wild card push who are in need of late-inning bullpen help should be all over Broxton here in the coming days. He likely won’t command a whole heckuva lot in return in terms of major league-ready help, so the Royals just may wind up keeping Broxton and signing him to an extension this offseason.
There have been reports that both the Mets (who have the worst bullpen in baseball) and the Angels could be interested in acquiring Broxton, with the Mets possibly being the most aggressive.
Although he’s possibly the nicest guy and baseball and the next Sean Casey, Frenchy has likely run his course in Kansas City – most likely due to the fact that he’s blocking possibly the game’s hottest prospect, Wil Myers. Jeff has managed to hit just .247/.286/.375 while clubbing only 8 HR and driving in 27 runs in 91 games this season; hardly the production you want from your right fielder, which is typically a more offensive production-based position. On top of his limited production is the fact that he’s in the first year of a two-year, $13.5 million extension that he signed last season, meaning any team that acquires Francoeur is likely to be on the hook for the remainder of his contract.
Frenchy does have some trade value though. First off, he has an abslolute cannon for an arm. His 10 outfield assists this season are 2nd in all of baseball beind Jose Bautista’s 11, while his 107 career outfield assists ranks him 7th among all active outfielders behind Bobby Abreu (130), Manny Ramirez (129), Vladimir Guerrero (126), Andruw Jones (124), Mark Kotsay (121) and Carlos Beltran (120). Secondly, he has historically proven to be an offensive threat against left-handed pitching. Finally, he’s a great clubhouse guy – just ask every single person on every team he’s ever been on.
If Francoeur ends up being traded, it will likley be to a team looking to platoon him in right field with a left-handed hitter, limiting to him regular bench duty. It’s been said that possibly the Indians and Reds are both looking for someone along the lines of Frenchy. Each of the Pirates, Yankees and Red Sox could all make sense as possible trade partners as well.
There have been a few reports stating that the Yankees are possibly kicking the tires on making a run at Alex Gordon – given that their left fielder Brett Gardner is out for the remainder of the season. But with the Dayton Moore looking for major-league ready starting pitching in return for any trade, unless the Yankees offer CC Sabathia, the Royals absolutley have to pass on this one. The Yankees have no young, legitimate, major-league ready starting pitchers within their system worth giving up Alex for.
And how would the Royals even replace Gordon? He’s their leadoff man who leads the league in doubles, a Gold Glove winning left fielder, smart baserunner, and is signed to an extremely club-friendly deal. Dealing Gordon would create a huge hole, both offensively and defensively.
Please, please, no.
Apparently, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been calling the Royals about the slugger. Desperate to infuse some right-handed power in their lineup, the Pirates are considering using Butler at first base full-time – risking his defensive limitations – in order to pull away from their division foes. But their offer to the Royals, Triple-A lefty Justin Wilson (7-4, 4.25 ERA), is hardly enough to pry him from the loving arms of Kansas City.
Possibly the face of the organization, Billy is on pace for his most complete season to date. The 26-year old is mashing at .296/.364/.496 with 32 XBH (13 doubles, 19 HR) and 58 RBI while bouncing between being the lineups no. 3 and no. 4 hitter. Once again, trading Butler would just create another hole in the lineup.
Last night, the Royals wrapped up possibly their most exciting series this season with a second-straight walk-off win.
The hero this time was Brayan Pena. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, down 3-2, and runners on second (Maier) and first (Dyson), Ned Yost opted to sub-in the switch-hitting Pena in place of the right-handed hitting Humberto Quintero to face Milwaukee closer John Axford.
The move paid off when Pena hit a long single into left field. Mitch Maier scored easily on the play to tie the score at 3-3. Dyson’s speed allowed him to go first-to-third on the single; that’s when things got exciting.
Brayan took a wide turn around first base, leading the cut-off man to throw to Rickie Weeks at second, thinking they could get Pena in a rundown. Seeing that the defense wasn’t paying him much attention, Dyson took off for home plate. Weeks bobbled the ball before firing the ball home, which skipped past Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado. Regardless of the throw, Dyson had the play beat as he dove head-first into home to score the winning run and complete the comeback.
Brewers’ closer John Axford was saddled with the loss after allowing the Royals back in the game for the second straight night. He loaded the bases the previous night before surrendering a walk to Mike Moustakas to end the game.
Promotions, Demotions, and the DL
- Demoted: 2B Johnny Giavotella (Omaha), 1B Clint Robinson (Omaha), RHP Louis Coleman (Omaha)
- The demotions of Johnny Giavotella and Clint Robinson were fairly easy to forecast. After tearing up Triple A pitching, Gio was unable to replicate his hitting ways. After hitting a meager .217/.260/.261 through 21 games, the team optioned him to Omaha to make room for Chris Getz’s return from the DL. Robinson went 0-for-4 in four pinch-hit appearances with two Ks. Everyone knew that his stay wasn’t going to be a long one. He was optioned back to Triple A Omaha before last night’s game.
- Coleman was demoted to clear space for Jonathan Sanchez on the active roster. Lou will undoubtedly be back up sometime this summer, as he has a solid 3.15 ERA in 20 innings with the Royals this season.
- Promoted: RHP Roman Colon (KC)
- Roman Colon made his Royals debut way back in 2009. Since then, he’s played in Japan in 2010 and in the Dodgers system (2011). The righty reliever had a respectable 3.34 ERA in 29.2 innings this season for the Storm Chasers before being summoned to the big league level.
- Reinstated from the DL: 2B Chris Getz (KC), LHP Jonathan Sanchez (KC), LHP Everett Teaford (Omaha)
- DL Shift: Danny Duffy (15-Day to 60-Day)
Frenchy and Yost Ejected
For those Jeff Francoeur fans who came out on Frenchy Quarter Night, he apologizes.
“I might have to invite them all out for a `Frenchy Quarter’ Wednesday.” – Jeff Francoeur
In the bottom of the 2nd inning and the count 0-2, Shaun Marcum delivered what was a called strike three to Jeff Francoeur to record the strikeout. The only problem was that the pitch (and FoxTrax conferred) was well inside and off the plate. Francoeur immediately turned around to question home plate umpire Dan Iassogna’s call. It was all jaw between the two until Frenchy used his bat to demonstrate how far off the plate the pitch was. If a player uses a “prop” when arguing a call, he is immediately ejected – which is exactly what happened. Jeff was forced to watch the rest of the game from the clubhouse after being replaced in right by Mitch Maier. But he wasn’t lonely for too long…
In the top of the 4th, Nyjer Morgan laid down a bunt that bounced up and hit Morgan while he was in fair territory. According to the rulebook, if a batted ball hits an offensive player in fair territory, the afforementioned player is out. But umpire Dan Iassogna, once again, didn’t it that way. Instead of calling Morgan out, he ruled it a foul ball – extending the at-bat. Yost came out fired up and was ejected because of it.
In his first return to Kauffman Stadium, Royals fans welcomed former ace Zack Greinke back to a myriad of both cheers and boos. Greinke expected to hear a little bit of both due to the fact that he won his Cy Young award during his time in KC and also because of the way he basically forced his way out of the organization.
The Royals got off to a quick start against Zack when Alex Gordon lead off the bottom of the 1st inning by smashing a 3-2 fastball into the fountains beyond the Pepsi Party Porch to give the Royals an early 1-0 lead. That was the only run Greinke gave up during seven innings, but was saddled with a no-decision when the Royals broke a 1-1 tie in the 8th on a Billy Butler RBI single.
His counterpart on the mound was Royals starter/long-reliever/swing-man/mop-up guy Luis Mendoza. Mendoza one-upped Greinke by carrying a no-hitter into the 7th inning, where he gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Braun and a walk to Aramis Ramirez before Yost decided to go to the ‘pen. Milwaukee’s lone run came around to score in the inning, which was charged to Mendoza.
The return of Salvador Perez is near, folks. He’s 13-for-35 with 7 RBI thus far during his rehab assigment in Omaha and he’s catching a full nine innings. Once Perez returns, the Royals have said they may carry three catchers in order to ease him back into playing everyday. Look for Sal to be back in Kansas City by the end of this month.
Meanwhile, CF Lorenzo Cain is off to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to begin a rehab assigment. Cain hasn’t played in a game since April 10th in Oakland when he injured his groin while running into the centerfield wall.
Top prospect John Lamb is expected to resume pitching at the beginning of July. The lefty underwent Tommy John sugery last June.
The Brewers Must Not Have Heard About Alex Gordon
Apparently the Brewers weren’t aware of this Alex Gordon guy who roams around left field for the Royals. You know, the 2012 AL Gold Glover and outfield assists leader. That guy.
Ryan Braun, who has fairly good speed, decided to test Gordon’s arm Tuesday night on a medium-depth flyball. Not only did Alex make a perfect throw to home to record the out, the play wasn’t even close. Braun was out by four or five steps.
“That fires me up more than anything, because it feels like you’re picking your pitcher up and the crowd loves it, the fans go crazy. It’s pretty cool.” – Alex Gordon after his fifth outfield assist of the season
Second Pick Signs
Sam Selman, the Vanderbily lefty whom the Royals selected with their second pick in the 2012 Draft, has agreed to sign with the Royals to the tune of $750,000.
The Royals have officially signed their first 11 picks of the draft and 28 of 40.
Interleague Play Continues
The Royals (27-34) will travel across I-70 to St. Louis for a weekend series against the Cardinals (33-31).
Friday @ 7:15 pm – RHP Vin Mazzaro (2-1) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (6-1)
Saturday @ 1:10 pm – LHP Bruce Chen (5-6) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (0-0)
Sunday @ 1:10 pm – RHP Luis Mendoza (2-3) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (5-7)
After that, the Royals will make their way to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros.
Given the rainout last night, the Royals and Tigers will play just a two game series. The game will be made up on Sept. 24, a mutual off-day.
Duane Below will lose his start and will shift back to the bullpen for the series.
Tuesday @ 6:05 CT: KC Luke Hochevar vs. DET Rick Porcello
Wednesday @ 12:05 CT: KC Jonathan Sanchez vs. DET Justin Verlander
* * *
At 6-15, the Royals are tied with Minnesota for 4th place in the Central, but are only 5.5 games behind the 1st place Cleveland Indians (11-9).
Here’s a quick recap of what happened this weekend:
- Before Friday night’s game, the Royals swapped centerfielders with the Storm Chasers by re-calling Jarrod Dyson and optioning Jason Bourgeois. Given the unfortunate Lorenzo Cain injury news, Yost figured that the team needed an infusion of speed. Dyson figures to get most of the playing time in center while Cain recovers from his hip injury. Mitch Maier will move back into his normal role as the fourth outfielder.
- During the bottom of the 2nd inning on Friday, Alex Gordon robbed Danny Valencia of a lead-off HR. Despite his Gold Glove season in 2011, this was the first time Alex has taken a homerun away from anyone.“I’ve always wanted to rob a guy on a catch since I started playing in the outfield. That was my first one. Just brought it down and threw it back in. I acted like I’d done it before.” – Gordon told Bob Dutton of The Star.
- After giving up four runs in four innings in Friday’s 8-7 win over the Twins, spot-starter Everett Teaford was optioned back to Tripole A Omaha, while right-hander Nate Adcock was summoned up from the same club. The move was made, not because of Teaford’s performance, but because the Royals’ bullpen needed a healthy arm who could fill the long-releif role. Given that starters generally get four days off between starts, shifting Teaford back to the bullpen after he replaced Duffy in the rotation would have put the Royals at a disadvantage. Therefore, Adcock was brought up from Omaha. Nate had been solid in Omaha before his call-up, going 3-1 in four starts with a 1.37 ERA.
- The Royals and Twins were rained out on Saturday, causing the game to be rescheduled for Saturday June 30th at Target Field in Minnesota. It will be a day-night double-header.
- Bruce Chen got lit up for six runs in 2.2 innings yesterday in the Royals’ 7-4 loss to the Twins. He may have been the victim of the small strike zone set by home plate umpire Larry Vanover, forcing him to use more of his pitches out and over the plate.
- Nate Adcock took over for Bruce in the middle of the third inning and gave the team exactly what they needed: he went the rest of the way (5.1 innings), giving the rest of the bullpen another day off, and kept the Royals in the game by only giving up one run.
- Mike Moustakas (3) hit his third homerun of this season yesterday off of Minnesota’s starter Jason Marquis. Moose has been one of the team’s hottest hitters over the past week, seeing his batting average go from .229 on April 21 to where it stands now at .315. He’s 12-for-27 (.444) during that stretch with 5 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K.
- Billy Butler has been maybe just as hot as Moose. After going hitless in the four games against Toronto, Country Breakfast has been on a tear – going 10-for-23 (.435) in the Royals last five games with 3 HR, 7 RBI, and 4 R. He’s currently on a five-game hitting streak.
- Alex Gordon has been on fire lately as well. He’s 8 for his last 21 (.381) with 2 HR, 5 RBI, and 7 R.
- On the flip side, Eric Hosmer has seen his batting average drop below the Mendoza line (.188) and is hitless in his last 14 AB’s. He has no doubt seen a lot of hard luck this season, as many of the balls that he hit have just been at-him balls. Opposing infields have been putting shifts on when Hosmer steps in the box, forcing him to try to hit everything the other way, which is that much more difficult to do when you’re going through a slump.
- Hosmer and the Royals received a major scare last night when Hosmer took a Glen Perkins fastball off his right-hand when he check-swung at a pitch. He laid on the ground for a moment to collect himself before getting up and finishing the AB. Hos finished the game at first and didn’t show any signs of pain.
The Royals will travel to Detroit for a three-game series against the Tigers.
The Tigers (11-11) are in quite a funk right now, losing 8 of their last 10 games while being outscored 67-33.
They are also currenlty dealing with the Delmon Young hate crime issue.
The Tigers swept the Royals nearly two weeks ago in Kansas City, but they only outscored the Royals 10-6. The Royals had the tying and/or go ahead run on base in the bottom of the 9th in two of the three games.
Here are the matchups for the series:
Monday @ 6:05 CT: KC – Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98 ERA) vs. DET – Duane Below (2-0, 0.00 ERA)
Don’t let Duane Below’s numbers deceive you. He is making his first start of the season – in place of Doug Fister. He’s only appeared in 5 games this season for a total of 12 innings.
Tuesday @ 6:05 CT: KC – Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. DET Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.45 ERA)
Rick Porcello has combined for just 7.2 innings and has given up 17 hits and 14 runs (13 ER) in his last two starts.
Wednesday @ 12:05 CT: KC – Luis Mendoza (1-2, 6.00 ERA) vs. DET Justin Verlander (2-1, 2.45 ERA)
Verlander hasn’t gone less than 6.0 IP in any of his starts this year, is averaging nearly a K per inning (37.1 IP, 35 K) and has only surrendered 8 BB and 1 HBP. On the otherhand, he hasn’t trown less than 102 pitches in each of his 5 starts and is averaging 111 pitches per outing. Verlander has been in a bases-loaded situation only once this season, which was in the bottom of the 9th against the Royals. He struck out Alex Gordon with a 100 mph fastball at the knees. This guy is filthy.
The carbon dioxide levels in Kansas City reached dangerous levels last night after the Royals faithful let out its collective breath.
The Royals finally, finally, got their fourth win of the season the tune of 8-2.
The top four of the Kansas City lineup inflicted nearly all of the damage to the Tribe by going a combined 9-for-17 (.529) with 7 runs scored, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB and only 1 K. Here are the individual breakdowns:
1. Chris Getz: 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K
2. Alex Gordon: 3-5, 2 R, 1 HR (3), 3 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K
3. Billy Butler: 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR (4), 3 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K
4. Eric Hosmer: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR (5), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 0 K
Moustakas went 0-for-2 but worked 2 BBs and Alcides Escobar, who went 1-for-4 with a double, scored on Billy Butler’s 2nd HR of the night.
This was a great game all-around by the Royals, and it was a great way to bust out of their 12-game funk.
The Royals got out of the gate quickly against Ubaldo Jimenez thanks to the two-run HR in the 1st by Butler. Hosmer’s two-run opposite-filed bomb in the 5th moved the score to 4-0.
Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98 ERA) had a solid night as well, going 6.1 IP, giving up 4 hits, 2 ER, 4 K, and 3 BB, and looked nothing like he did the last time he faced the Indians. The Indians scored one in the 6th and one in the 7th off of Hoch, but a heads up play by Jeff Francoeur and the Royals’ defense in the 6th inning limited the damage to just one run.
Tommy Hottovy, who made his Royals debut after being called up from Omaha (taking the spot of Jeremy Jeffress) replaced Hoch in the 7th and earned his first hold of the season, giving up one hit and one run (charged to Hochevar). He also hit a batter (Casey Kotchman) and struck out Michael Brantley.
Aaron Crow replaced Hottovy to finish the 7th. He also threw the 8th, retiring the Indians in order – earning his third hold of 2012.
With the score at 4-2, the Royals offense went off in the top of the 8th by scoring 4 runs off of rookie Jairo Asencio. The first three runs came around to score on Gordon’s three-run shot to center. The Royals then went back-to-back when Billy Butler went yard, moving the score to 8-2.
Jose Mijares pitched a perfect 9th inning to closeout the victory.
The Royals were all smiles when they took the field for mandatory victory high-fives after the final out. Afterall, why wouldn’t they be?
The monkey is off their back, but now the real work has begun. One game doesn’t mean much right now to the 4-14 Royals who currently sit six games back of the Indians, White Sox, and Tigers.
The first step back into relevancy: win this Cleveland series.
It’ll be Luis Mendoza (0-2, 6.92 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (1-1, 4.86 ERA).
Speaking of Luis…
With Felipe Paulino scheduled to come off the DL any day now, Luis Mendoza’s days in the starting rotation may be numbered. Mendoza has really struggled this season after being arguably the league’s top pitcher during spring training. He will undoubtedly have to have a terrific performance today against Cleveland if he has any hopes of remaining a major league starter.
Cain’s Recovery Hits a Snag
Lorenzo Cain, who was excpected to come off the DL tomorrow, will have to wait to make his long-awaited return to the Royals lineup. During a re-hab assignment game with Double A NW Arkansas, Cain strained his left hip-flexor while going after a routine fly ball.
“We don’t think it’s a long-term thing,” Moore said, “but I think it’s going to be more than a few days.”
Duffy Will Miss His Next Start
With a sore left-elbow, the Royals are going to take the cautious route with Danny Duffy by skipping his spot in the rotation. The tightness Duffy is feeling is described as minor, so nobody needs to fret.
Lefty Everett Teaford is expected to get the start in Duffy’s place.
Now, like a lot of fans these days, let me go on the record: I am not a coaching basher – especially when it comes to baseball. Managers and their respective staff really effect only a handful of games a season. The rest is up to the team that they put on the field.
The Royals played hard last night, but once again came up just one run short in a 4-3 loss to the dreaded Cleveland Indians.
Mitch Maier was the player of the game, going 3-for-4 and driving in the Royals’ first 2 runs of the game. He also made a terrific running catch in the bottom of the 8th to rob Travis Hafner of an extra-base hit with the bases juiced.
The goat of the game?
Was it Jonathan Sanchez? He lasted all of 4.2 innings, giving up 4 ER while throwing 115 pitches (59 balls to 56 strikes). Now he did manage 5 Ks, but he also tied a career high by walking 7. And on top of that, all 4 of the Indians runs were the products of a Sanchez walk: He hit Jason Kipnis in the 1st, who came around to score on a sac fly. He walked three straight in the 5th, all of whom scored on a Jack Hannahan double. But no, he wasn’t the goat.
Was it Alex Gordon? Alex had another 0-fer night, but he did manage one walk and zero strikeouts. But in the top of the 4th, with the one run already across the plate and the bases loaded, Alex grounded out to first basemen Casey Kotchman to end the threat. That out was definitely a rally-killer in what could have been a potentially huge inning for the Royals. A base hit would have scored two and put KC ahead 3-1 at the time. But, with all that said, Alex, too, was not the goat.
The goat, or should I say goats, of the game are…. (insert drumroll here)
Manager Ned Yost and Third Base Coach Eddie Rodriguez!
Ned Yost has begun to make me wonder exactly what his vision for this bullpen is. As he stated to begin the year, he expects this team to win. He won’t manage like he did last season when he let players like Escobar, Moustakas, Giavotella, Hochevar and Duffy take their lumps in order to build this team for the future. So, in essence, if a player is struggling (especially a pitcher), he needs to be removed from the game in order to give your team the best chance to win.
Well, Ned blew it. It’s no secret that Jonathan Sanchez is “effectively wild” – meaning that he will strike out his fair share of hitters, but he’ll also walk way more hitters than the average pitcher. This effective wildness will also drive up the pitcher’s pitch count in a hurry. Through his first 4 innings last night, Sanchez had hit a batter (which came around to score), struck out 4, walked 4, and given up 3 hits. He walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the 2nd before getting an infield fly and a 6-4-3 double-play to get himself out of the jam.
Yost had to know after that inning that Sanchez likely wasn’t going to be that lucky if he puts the team in that position again.
Sanchez started off the 5th by walking Asdrubal Cabrera on four straight pitches before getting his nemesis Shin-Soo Choo to strike out. He followed that up by walking Carlos Santana on a full count. The same went for Cleveland DH Travis Hafner. So there he stands with one out, bases loaded, and a tie ball game.
At this time, Sanchez was already right sround or over 100 pitches.
The next hitter, Shelley Duncan, skied a sac fly deep enough to center where Mitch’s only throw could have been to the cut-off man. Run scores, lead gone.
Now, it makes sense to me that if you have a pitcher who is clearly struggling with his command and has thrown 100+ pitches through 4.2 innings a change has to be made if you have any hope of walking away from the inning with just the one run given up.
But Ned decided against logic here by leaving Sanchez in the fire. And what happened? Jack “All-Up-In-Your-Face” Hannahan hit pitch no. 115 into center field for a two-run double. 4-1 Cleveland.
So then, after all the bad that could have happened did, Yost sauntered out to the mound to bring in Tim Collins.
The bullpen combined for 3.1 IP, 2 BB, 2 K, and 0 ER.
There are no ways of knowing if the runs would have scored if Ned had pulled Sanchez earlier – and hindsight is 20/10.
The other goat is third base coach Eddie Rodriguez.
For the recod, I’ve always been a fan of Easy Eddie. But last night, he made a very poor judgment call that cost the Royals a run – and perhaps the game.
In the top of the 8th, with one out, Hosmer on third and Moustakas on first, Mitch Maier roped a double down the right field line. Of course, Hosmer scored easily. Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo didn’t really seem to be hustling to the ball, which took a bounce of the concrete base of the wall. Moose was running hard and got to third just as Choo was in making his throw to the cut-off man.
Between the how hard the ball was hit, the lack of giddy-up by Choo, and the fact that Moustakas got a great read on contact, one could make the case that Moose could have made it home safely.
Keep in mind this team had lost 11 in a row at this point in time.
Eddie decided to play it safe, stopping Moose at third base. It definitely would have been a close play at the plate, but wih a team that has lost 11 straight games and has struggled immensely to score runs, you have to send the runner home in this situation. Have to.
With the score 4-2, and two-outs, Alcides Escobar hit a one-hopper back to the pitcher to end the inning – stranding Moustakas at third.
The Royals did manage to score a run in the 9th, but couldn’t muster anything more than the one run.
I’m not here calling for Eddie and Ned’s heads. And I know they take every loss just as personal as the players do, and Ned usually places the blame on his shoulders anyway (warranted or not).
But this loss truly belongs to the both of them. With a team riding a skid like this, they have to be making better team decisions than that.
This loss really hurt.
A few notes before we begin…
- The Royals’ 10 consecutive home losses to start the season matched something that hasn’t been done in the Major Leagues for 99 years.
- During the 10-game homestand, the Royals were outscored 64-37.
- If you take out that dreadful Cleveland series, the the differential is much smaller: 32-18. Not awful… But still nowhere close to what this team is capable of.
- Kansas City has had the lead at one point in exactly 4 of those games.
- In 13 double-play situations, Billy Butler has grounded int0 4 (31%) thus far. The league average is 11%.
- As a team, the Royals have grounded into 19 double-plays, good for 18% of their opportunities. Again, the league average is 11%.
- 12 of the double-plays came in the seven games against Detroit and Toronto.
- As a team, the Royals have grounded into 19 double-plays, good for 18% of their opportunities. Again, the league average is 11%.
- The team was a meager 5-for-40 (.125) with runners in scoring position in the Tornto series.
- For the series, Escobar had 7 hits (including a 4-for-4 night) while Moustakas collected 6. Billy Butler, who was riding an 8-game hitting streak coming into the series, went 0-fer.
- The Royals haven’t won a game since Lorenzo Cain was placed on the DL. Coincidence? Not that Cain was a world-beater in his 5 games, but his defense has been sorely missed in center field.
- The team’s Pythagorean W-L is 6-10, suggesting that the Royals have been a bit more unlucky than not. The guys over at FanGraphs even think that the Royals are better than what their record shows.
It’s been extremely hard to listen to the guys at 610 Sports radio talk about the Royals for the past week and a half – let alone think, read, watch, and write about them on a daily basis. I’ll be the first to admit it’s tough to write about a team that’s losing games in every which way imagineable – from hitting to pitching to base running (the team’s defense has been it’s lone bright-spot throughout this whole skid. Just watch Mike Moustakas).
Let’s just forget about the Cleveland series for right now and focus on the series’ against Detroit and Toronto.
In the three losses to Detroit, the scores were 3-2, 3-1, 4-3. In each game of the series, the Royals had chances to score the tying/winning runs late in the game, but failed to do so thanks to a bases-loaded, full-count, 3-2 100 MPH fastball by Justin Verlander in game one and a dumb-luck, game-ending double-play by Miguel Cabrera that would have otherwise been a game-winning extra base hit in game three. In game two, the Tigers broke a 1-1 tie by getting two base knocks against the shift in the top of the 8th by Miggy and Prince. The Cats also scored on a wild pitch by Jose Mijares.
In the four-game sweep by the Jays, the finals were 4-3, 9-5, 5-3, 4-1. Greg Holland imploded in game one (and was placed on the DL directly after), just got plain beat in game two, Danny Duffy reverted back to his old ways in game three by surrendering 5 BB and a 4-run inning, and the offense couldn’t sole Brandon Morrow in the finale.
Now in both series’, the Royals got good enough starting pitching to win four of the seven games. And the offense was great at starting rallies when the games were on the line, but were awful at “getting them on, getting them over, and getting them in”. The Royals have a wOBA of .333 with the bases empty (4th in the league). But with runners in scoring position, the team has a wOBA of just .275, ahead of only Oakland. And to make matters worse, they’re hitting .242 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
So the Royals really haven’t had many problems getting men on, even in clutch situations. They just have not been able to get that clutch hit to fall, that sac fly to leave the infield, or that sac bunt to roll down the correct line.
Now it may be as simple as “these guys are still young” or “they’re trying too hard”. They’re definitely pressing – no doubt about it. The Royals aren’t losing because of a lack of effort – Hosmer is hitting homers and laying down bunts for base hits, Gordon is still going hard for every fly ball, Moustakas and Escobar continue to wow with both the stick the leather, Billy has been Billy, Yuni has been maybe the most consistent hitter, Chen has given nothing but quality starts, Hochevar took a groundball off the ankle and didn’t miss a start, Duffy has shown he can go more than five innings, and Crow and Collins have been solid from the ‘pen.
But, regardless of all of what I just said, the Royals had a winless homestand, sit at 3-13, and are sitting at the bottom of baseball’s barrel. This team is capable of winning – and they’ll get off the schneid at some point.
Maybe this is all because the Royals started their homestand on Friday the 13th…?
Maybe “Our Time” has gotten to their heads.
Or maybe this team just needs a change of scenery.
Nobody should expect this team to go out and win eleven in a row and just forget this losing streak ever happened. It’s going to take winning series’ and a few short winning streaks to come out of this hole.
This team is young, but they’re capable.
Here’s to the optimist in us all. Cheers!