At 37-47, the Royals had a less than stellar “first half” of the 2012 season. They’re currently in 4th place in the AL Central and 9.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox (47-38).
In what has been a notoriously weak division, the Royals have had many chances to control their own fate within the division. But thanks to a 12-game never-to-be-spoken-of-again losing streak, crippling injuries, terribly inconsistent starting pitching, and slumping bats, the Royals have yet to take that leap into contention. Currently, they’re on-pace for a 71-91 record.
Returning From the DL
The Royals are getting to key players back tonight to kickoff this half of the season. Both Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz are scheduled to be in the lineup tonight as the Royals take on the White Sox.
Lorenzo Cain has been out since April 10th when he strained his left groin after running into the center field wall in Oakland. He was close to returning to the lineup in late April before he tore his left hip flexor during a rehab assignment with Northwest Arkansas, causing him to extend his stay on the DL until this past Monday.
Chris Getz has been able to see a little more playing time than Cain, even though he’s only played in 36 of the team’s 84 games (partly due to platooning with Yuni). Getz strained his left leg back in mid-June in the 1st inning of that glorious 15-inning win in St. Louis. In his place, the Royals have used Betancourt, Falu, and Giavotella. Before this stint on the DL, Getz was having a fairly good season – .290/.327/.380, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 8 RBI, 12 R, 6 SB (1 CS), and just 9 K to 6 BB. His ability to situationaly hit and steal bases will be welcome additions to a lineup starving to manufacture runs.
The Trade Deadline
The Royals are “sellers” now. Let’s just get that point out there from the get-go. Barring a miraculous winning streak, they’ll be battling it out with the Twins to say who can stay out of the AL Central cellar. But the Royals may have a few attractive trade pieces that could: a) bring value back in return; b) clear the way for a more deserving player; and c) invigorate the fan-base in what could be a long second half.
- Jonathan Broxton: Brox is performing well this season. He’s recorded 21-f0r-24 in converting saves and has a 1.99 ERA in 31 appearances. The former two-time All-Star was one of five players up for the final roster spot on the AL All-Star roster this season – so there’s no doubt as to whether Broxton has regained his form. He’s signed to a one-year, $2 million deal and will be a free agent at the end of the season – where in which the Royals will not be able to collect a compensation pick if he opts to sign elsewhere. His value right now is as high as it will ever be, although relievers anymore don’t often fetch a premium return. The Royals bullpen likely would be able to pick up the slack left by Broxton, with one of Crow, Holland, or Herrera shifting to the closer role. The New York Mets have been mentioned as a possible trade partner, though the Royals are looking for Major League-eady help in return. Me thinks: NY Mets (46-40), Toronto (43-43), or Boston (43-43).
- Jeff Francoeur: It’s time for the Dayton Moore to seriously think about life after Frenchy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Francoeur. He’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse and I have no doubts in his work ethic at all. He gives all he’s got with every pitch of every game. But he’s hitting just .251/.289/.378 this season, knocking in only 25 runs while managing to hit just 7 homeruns thus far – which is not exactly what you want from a guy who’s trypically the no.5 hitter in the lineup everyday. But the main, loudest, biggest, over riding reason to rid our lineup of Frenchy: he’s blocking Wil Myers. Moving Francoeur won’t be easy. He’s currently in the first year of a two-year, $14 million deal, which is sure to keep trade partners at a minimum. The Royals would have to likely eat most of his contract if they want to move him. Teams in the playoff hunt looking for a lefty-mashing platoon partner will likely fill-up the Francoeur market. He won’t likely command a huge return. Me thinks: Boston (43-43), Pittsburgh (48-37), LA Dodgers (47-40), Cincinnati (47-38), or Miami (41-44).
- Yuniesky Betancourt: Outside of his defensive shortcomings, Yuni has been serviceable this season at second base. He’s been platooning there most of the season with a combination of Getz, Falu, and Giavotella and has even played a few games at third. Although his defense isn’t anything to write home about, he does have the ability to play second base almost every day while filling in at both shortstop and third, thus increasing his value to teams with injuries or teams looking for versatility off the bench. The Royals have an adequate replacement for Yuni in Irving Falu, so losing him won’t necessarily create any holes. He’s hitting just .242 and doesn’t take many walks, but he also doesn’t strikeout a ton and has adequate power (6 HR and 31 RBI in 165 AB). He’s only signed through 2012, so moving his contract won’t be an issue. Practically every team could use a versitile bench guy with some pop. Yuni may be able to be flipped for a reliever. Me thinks: San Francisco (46-40), Tampa Bay (45-41), Atlanta (46-39), or Texas (52-34).
- Jose Mijares: The Royals signed Mijares this offseason to a one-year deal after he was non-tendered by the Twins, and the lefty has been worth every penny thus far. In 41 appearances, covering just 33.1 innings, Jose has recorded 32 K to just 7 BB while surrendering just 6 earned runs (1.62 ERA). Given his IP vs. appearances, it’s easy to see that he’s a lefty specialist – a bullpen piece that nearly every big league manager covets. He’s able to be under team control for the next five years due to arbitration, which could be attractive to willing trade partners. A LOOGY by trade, he could be had fairly easily. Me thinks: Any team in playoff contention.
Both Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi have been dominant at the Triple-A level this season. Having said that, both are likely to see some playing time in Kansas City this season. The question is when.
Jeff Francoeur is still on the roster and Lorenzo Cain is going to be given every opportunity to show what he can do in center field – effectively blocking Myers’ path. At sone point though, his number will be called; whether it be from a trade, injury, or as a September call-up.
Odorizzi, on the other hand, will likely get the nod for the starting rotation soon. Other than Bruce Chen and maybe Luke Hochevar, nobody in the current starting rotation should be blocking Izzy’s path to Kansas City. The Royals’ rotation is atrocious right now, and giving Odorizzi a shot to prove himself can only make it better.
Then you have guys like LHPs Will Smith and Ryan Verdugo, OFers David Lough and Derrick Robinson, and 2B Johnny Giavotella who all have potential and could make an impact in Kansas City in the coming months.
Finally Having the Optimal Lineup
For the first time this season, the Royals will debut the batting order they thought they would have coming out of Spring Training. But then Salvador Perez went to the DL, followed by Lorenzo Cain and then Chris Getz. But now that all three are back and presumably healthy, the Royals’ lineup should look a lot like this:
- LF Gordon L
- SS Escobar R
- 1B Hosmer L
- DH Butler R
- 3B Moustakas L
- RF Francoeur R
- C Perez R
- 2B Getz L / Betancourt R
- CF Cain R
If KC had this lineup to begin the season, we might be thinking about the trade deadline a little differently.
Jonathan Sanchez Drama
Okay, drama might not be the right word. For now, at least. But it is baffling to me that the Royals are still letting Jonathan Sanchez trot out to the mound every fifth day while he’s still surrendering more walks than strikeouts. “That’s just the way I pitch,” was Sanchez’s rebuttle when asked about his high walk totals.
That may be the way he pitches, but that’s not the way any team wins. The guy’s body language stinks – which you’ve probably heard Rex Hudler say once or twice before. He has all the demeanor of a guy who either doesn’t love baseball or doesn’t want to be here.
Either way, he’s gotta go.
I know we gave up Melky for him, and gosh does that look bad right about now. But at the time, most of us probably would have made the same deal that Dayton did.
He’s a free agent at the end of 2012, and the Royals can’t possibly be contemplating bring him back for 2013 and beyond. But with a 1-5 record and a 6.75 ERA while giving up an average of 7.4 BB/9 to just 5.4 K/9 (not to mention a WHIP of nearly 2.00), trading him for anything but a bag of peanuts is likely out of the question.
Shape up, or ship out.
The All-Star festivities have officially come and gone in Kansas City.
FanFest was an overwhelming success.
Talk about sensory overload…
Upon going up the escalator to the show room at Bartle Hall, when you see the banners hanging from the ceiling, authentic baseball memorabilia on walls and tables, Cal Ripken and Barry Larkin instructing a local high school baseball team on proper fielding techniques, everybody thinking and talking about baseball, and nearly 80% of the fans attending wearing Royals gear, you knew you were in baseball heaven.
If you didn’t do anything else baseball related during All-Star week in Kansas City, I hope you at least took a few hours to venture downtown, take a stroll through Barney Allis Plaza on your way to FanFest. It was a living, breathing baseball museum with every ounce of baseball history covered from head-to-toe. And for $30 a ticket, you got way more than what you paid for.
The All-Star Future’s Game drew a record crowd.
40,000+ attended the Future’s Game most likely due to the presence of future Royals Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and Yordano Ventura. If that doesn’t make Dayton Moore call-up Myers and/or Odorizzi, I don’t know what will.
It goes to show you though, if you put an exciting product on the field, the stadium will be filled almost every single night. This is a baseball town. We just haven’t had many teams to rally behind in the past 10+ years.
The Homerun Derby… was everything a Royals fan could have ever wanted (outside of seeing Billy Butler send a few BP fastballs into the fountains).
Oh, what a night it was.
The Homerun Derby is, and always will be, an exciting affair. And this year’s was no exception.
We all know the story. Robinson Cano, the captain for the American League’s half of the Derby, stated publicly that he would assuredly select a Royal to participate – which happened to Billy Butler. Then Robby snubbed him.
Robinson Cano drew the biggest collective “boooooooooo” I have ever had the priviledge of hearing. I also have never heard a louder crowd collectively cheer for one person as they did when they called for Billy Butler. My wife and I, watching from home, couldn’t help but laugh, smile, and throw in a few cheers and “boos” of our own during Cano’s failed hacks. Watching him hit pop-up after pop-up into the outfield literally made my week. In all, Robinson was a glorious 0-fer – hitting absolutely zero homeruns. That itself made it all so, so sweet.
Outside of Cano, the fans were treated to a great show by Mark Trumbo and Derby champ Prince Fielder. Trumbo, who Cano supposedly picked over Butler, hit possibly the most impressive homerun I have ever seen when he launched a ball onto the roof of the Royals Hall of Fame in left field – some 475+ ft. Equally impressive was the amount of balls Prince was able to send into the fountains deep in right center.
The All-Star Game was a lopsided affair.
Justin Verlander got rocked. How often have you ever been able to hear that?
The NL was able to talley five runs off of him in the first inning thanks to a Pablo Sandoval bases-loaded triple (the first such occurance in All-Star Game history).
Another Giant earned the All-Star Game’s top honor. Former Royals great Melky Cabrera won the All-Star Game MVP award thanks to his two-run homerun. It was great to see Melky make his first All-Star team and win the MVP award in Kansas City, but it makes the Jonathan Sanchez trade sting that much more…
But without a doubt, the most memorable moment of the game didn’t come when Bryce Harper lost a flyball in left field. Or when Derek Jeter and Ryan Braun chummed it up on the field in the midst of Braun’s triple. Or when Robinson Cano was booed yet again. Or even when Billy Butler finally got his first AB in the 7th inning (although that was a close 2nd).
For me, it was when Chipper Jones took his first at-bat ever in Kansas City. Before Tuesday, the long-time veteran had played in every single stadium in the league except for Kauffman Stadium. He hit a choppy groundball between first and second that was “just” out of Ian Kinsler’s reach for a basehit. You could see Chipper smiling at Kinsler when he reached first base. Any other day, Kinsler makes that play.
- Both CF Lorenzo Cain and 2B Chris Getz have been activated from the DL and placed on the active roster. RHP Nate Adcock and INF/U Irving Falu were the roster casualities, as both were sent back down to Omaha.
- After having a solid showing at the Future’s Game, Wil Myers went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI in the Triple-A All-Stars game as the PCL beat the International League 3-0. Wil was named the games’ MVP.
- Yordano Ventura, who started the Future’s Game for the World Team, was promoted from Single-A Kane County to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
- Joining Ventura in Double-A is lefty Mike Montgomery. In his second season at Omaha, Monty seems to have regressed significantly. In 17 starts (91.2 IP), he’s 3-6 with a 5.69 ERA with just 67 K to 43 BB and a 1.67 WHIP.
- Taking Montgomery’s spot in Omaha’s rotation will be another promising young lefty: Chris Dwyer. Through 16 starts and 85.2 IP this season for the Naturals, the 24-year old hasn’t faired much better than Montgomery. He was 5-8 with a 5.25 ERA, 71 K to 44 BB, and had a WHIP of 1.43. Dwyer’s promotion may have more to do with the Rule 5 Draft this offseason more than anything. In order to protect Dwyer from of the Rule 5 Draft, the Royals will have to place him on the 40-man roster sometime between now and the draft. If the Royals opt not to do so, they risk losing him to any team that decides he’s worth a spot on their 25-man roster for all of 2013. Note: In 2011, Baseball America ranked Dwyer as the 83rd best prospect in the game.
Overall, Kansas City showed Major League Baseball and its fans a great time and was a more than gracious host to thousands of visitors. Here’s top hoping it doesn’t take another 39 years to have another one of these.
During the 5th inning of the Storm Chaser’s Wednesday night game in Sacramento, Johnny Giavotella was pulled from the game for “a good reason”. Being pulled for a “good reason” can mean one of three things: he’s being promoted, traded to a team who needs him, or he’s become a father.
Well the third option was basically crossed off the list immediately by the Royals Twitterverse.
So it had to be a trade….right?
Let’s look at the Royals’ situation:
- The team currently has two second basemen on the active roster: Chris Getz and Irving Falu.
- Once Yuniesky Betancourt comes off the DL (probably sometime next week), presumably Falu will be optioned back down to Omaha.
- Chris Getz is performing very well at the moment, hitting .306/.353/.452 with 7 XBH, 6 RBI, 5 SB and has commited only 1 error thus far. He’s been a solid clutch hitter and has a .333 BAbip (batting average on balls in play).
On Thursday morning, Dayton Moore was on 610 Sports Radio with Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler where he gave an intriguing interview. Immediately, they asked him about what was going on with the Giavotella situation. Dayton stated that they were working out a way to get Johnny up to the big league club, they just had to “cross some T’s and dot some I’s”.
Now, when a GM has to “cross T’s and dot I’s”, it usually means some sort of roster shake-up is in the works.
Hours went by between the interview and the actual move; and during that time, Twitter blew up with trade speculation*. There were Getz and Hochevar rumors, Getz and Sanchez rumors, Getz, Hochevar, Francoeur rumors, etc etc etc…
*I’ll admit that I contributed to the madness…
In essence, a potential Chris Getz trade made the most sense. Getz’s value is most likely at an all-time high right now and Giavotella was clearly ready to come back to Kansas City, evidenced by his .331/.408/.504, 5 HR, and 25 RBI through 31 games with Omaha.
But the move that the Royals made yesterday just doesn’t add up…
The team ended all of the Twitter speculation yesterday afternoon by sending picther Jonathan Sanchez to the 15-day DL with biceps tendonitis; thus calling up Johnny Giavotella to take his spot on the 25-man roster.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong: if a pitcher is placed on the DL, doesn’t a team normally replace him with another pitcher to take his spot on the roster? I would have loved to see the Royals promote Mike Montgomery to take over for Sanchez and get a taste of the big leagues.
With Giavotella, the Royals now have three second basemen on the active roster (Getz, Giavotella, and Falu). You don’t call up guys like Gio to platoon with Chris Getz at second. He is an everyday type of guy and is billed, right now at least, as the second basemen of the future. So it makes absolutely no sense to call him up right now.
So what happens when Yuni comes off the DL sometime in the near future? Like Gio, he’s right-handed and was Chris Getz’s platoon partner at second. Do you shop Yuni? Do you shop Getz? Because, out of the three of them, Yuni is the only guy who can really fill in at multiple positions. Getz technically can and has filled in at short and third, so he could serve that role for the team. Giavotella is strictly a second basemen and has put in a ton of work at improving his defense there, so playing him anywhere else would be doing him a real disservice.
Maybe the Royals are in talks with the Brewers about sending Yuni back to Milwaukee…?
If not, then somebody please explain to me what just happened.
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.
See what I did there?
Mother Nature tried her best to keep the Royals and A’s off the field last night in Oakland, evidenced by a 43-minute rain delay to begin the game. She eventually got her way in the middle of the Royals’ half of the 8th inning, forcing the umpires to shut it down for the night – but not before Danny Duffy put in the best and most dominating performance of his young career.
In front of a crowd filled with friends and family (he hails from Lompoc, Ca.), Danny put on a show. Duffy was straight dealing last night to the tune of 6 innings, 8 K, 4 BB, and 1 hit. That one hit came from A’s shortstop Cliff Pennington in the bottom of the 3rd – a one-out double to center. Duffy then proceeded to pick him off at second base.
Duffy spread out 4 walks in his 6 innings, none of which wound up hurting him at all. He threw 109 pitches in his 6 innings (62 S 47 B), going an inning longer than his average last season of 5.1 innings per start. His high pitch count can be credited to his 8 Ks as much as his 4 BBs.
For his career, Duffy is now 3-0 in Oakland.
“I don’t think it’s anything to do with (the Coliseum). This year, I think I’m going to be pretty consistent everywhere we go. I’m pretty excited.” – Duffy told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
Aaron Crow was brought in to pitch the 7th, striking out Seth Smith and Josh Donaldson before getting Collin Cowgill to line out to RF. He was credited with the save due to the rainout of the final two innings.
The Royals hitters were outshined by Duffy’s season debut, but they had a decent night as well. They were able to tag A’s starter Graham Godfrey for 6 hits and 2 runs through 6 innings. Kansas City’s 2 runs off of Godfrey came in the 4th inning:
- Butler lead the inning off with a two-bagger to left.
- Frenchy followed suit with a soft single to right field. Butler moves up to third.
- Moose mashed a deep double over the head of CF Yoenis Cedpedes, driving in Butler and moving Frenchy to third. 1-0 KC.
- Pinch-hitting for Cain (more on that down below), Mitch Maier pops op to short. One down.
- Humberto Quintero hits a SAC fly to right field, Frenchy scores from third. Moose advances to third. 2-o KC. Two down.
- Getz flies out to left. Three down, side retired.
Kansas City tabbed their third and final run in the 7th inning off of A’s lefty Jerry Blevins. The first batter he faced, Mitch Maier (1), sent a fastball over the fence in right. 3-0 Royals.
- Alex Gordon had another 0-fer last night, but showed signs that he’s about to break out of his slump. He had two hard, solidly (if that’s even a word) hit balls that, unfortunately for him, were right at Oakland defenders. He walked in his first AB to lead the game off. In the 3rd, he hit a solid line drive to right, but Collin Cowgill made a good read and made the catch. He also hit a hard groundball in the 5th to second baseman Jemile Weeks, who made a good play to get a hustling Gordon at first.
- Lorenzo Cain left the game with a groin injury after the 3rd inning. In the bottom of the 2nd, he made a terrific running grab in deep deep center to rob Daric Barton of an extra-base hit and a possible RBI. Cain then nailed the cut-off man, who relayed to Hosmer to double-up the baserunner. Cain apparently suffered the injury when he ran into the wall after making the grab. Yost said it was a Grade 1 groin strain, which is good news for the Royals. Mitch Maier pinch-hit for him in the 4th. Mitch was scheduled to get the start in today’s game anway, so Cain will get today and Thursday, an off day, to recover in time for the Home Opener on Friday afternoon.
- Aaron Crow recorded his first career save, pitching a perfect 7th inning.
- With Danny Duffy not allowing a single run last night, the Royals’ starters have given up only 5 earned runs in 29 innings pitched, which translates to a sparkling 1.55 ERA – the best in baseball.
- Billy Butler was caught stealing (1) by A’s catcher Anthony Recker on a failed hit-and-run attempt with Jeff Francoeur striking out at the plate. Chris Getz was picked off (1) by lefty Jerry Blevins and was tagged out trying to advance to second on the play (1).
- After Eric Hosmer lost his bat on a swinging strike in the top of the 8th inning, home plate umpire Jim Joyce called for the Oakland ground crew to roll out the tarps. Just a bit over an hour later, Joyce called the game at 11:07 pm PT (1:07 am CT). The rain caused a total delay of 1 hour and 49 minutes. The final score was 3-0, Kansas City over Oakland.
The series finale will take place this afternoon at 2:35 pm CT, with Bruce Chen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) taking the hill for Kansas City (3-2). He’ll face off against Oakland (2-4) RHP Brandon McCarthy (0-1, 2.25 ERA). The series is tied at 1-1.
Kansas City Royals
1. Alex Gordon LF
2. Alcides Escobar SS
3. Eric Hosmer 1B
4. Billy Butler DH
5. Jeff Francoeur RF
6. Mike Moustakas 3B
7. Mitch Maier CF
8. Brayan Pena C
9. Chris Getz 2B
LHP Bruce Chen
1. Jemile Weeks 2B
2. Cliff Pennington SS
3. Josh Reddick RF
4. Yoenis Cespedes CF
5. Johnny Gomes DH
6. Kurt Suzuki C
7. Josh Donaldson 3B
8. Daric Barton 1B
9. Collin Cowgill RF
RHP Brandon McCarthy
On a particularly cold night in Oakland, Tommy Milone looked more like Tommy Glavine. The rookie, making his 1st start as an A (made 5 starts with the Nationals in 2011), went 8 scoreless (93 pitches) and surrendered only 3 hits and 3 walks and had 0 Ks. Needless to say, the Royals’ hitters just couldn’t figure him out.
The Royals’ 3 hits all came in the first three innings of the game:
- Jason Bourgeois lead the game off (inplace of Alex Gordon) with a double to deep center which would have been a triple if not for a hustling Yoenis Cespedes. His leadoff double was quickly erased. Lorenzo Cain hit a flyball to right that normally would have been difficult enough for a runner to advance to third, but A’s right fielder Josh Reddick threw a laser to third and nailed Bourgeois with a perfect throw.
- Yuniesky Betancourt doubled to left field with 2 outs in the top of the 2nd. Brayan Pena proceeded to groundout to end the inning.
- Alcides Escobar hit a double down the right field line to leadoff the 3rd, but never was able to advance past second thanks to a Chris Getz infield pop-up, a Bourgeois grouder to short, and a Lorenzo Cain fly ball to center.
- Chris Getz’s at-bat was probably the biggest missed opportunity of the night. He had Escobar on second with nobody out. He tried to lay down a SAC bunt and failed. In turn, he hit a harmless pop-up. All he needed to do was move Escobar over to third, and he would have likely scored on Bourgeois groundball. Situational hitting is probably the biggest asset that Getz brings to the roster and he failed to come through last night.
The only other baserunners the Royals had on the evening were the product of walks – 3 by Milone and 1 by Grant Balfour.
- Eric Hosmer walked to leadoff the 4th and moved to second base on a Billy Butler groundball out. With Jeff Francoeur at the plate, just as Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler were discussing Hosmer’s speed, Hosmer took off for third base and was thrown out by catcher Kurt Suzuki. Frenchy would go on to draw a walk from Milone as well. So instead of having two-on with one out and a runner on scoring position, the Royals had Frenchy on first with two down. Until Frenchy was caught trying to steal second. Inning over, threat neutralized.
- Hoz drew another walk in the 7th, but nothing came of it. Pinch-hitter Mitch Maier walked in the 9th.
Poor basrunning just killed the Royals last night. Three times (!) a scoring threat was killed on the basepaths. But if we have to lose the game, we lost it our way: being aggressive baserunners. The offense wasn’t doing much, so Ned Yost tried to get the team to manufacture runs. It just didn’t workout this time. The Royals also went down in order four times – innings 1, 5, 6, and 8.
On the other side of the ball, Luis Mendoza had an impressive season debut. He did struggle a little with his command, as it seemed like his sinker was floating too far inside to every A’s left-handed hitter. He ended up going 5.2 innings, giving up just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 2 Ks. But he also had 4 BBs.
The A’s one run against Mendoza came in the bottom of the 2nd. With 2-out and runners on the corners, third baseman Josh Dolnaldson hit a sharp grounder to right field, bring home the runner from third base. Other than that, aside from a few walks, Mendoza didn’t run into much trouble against the Athletics lineup.
Lefties Tim Collins and Jose Mijares pitched 2.1 innings collectively to finish the game for KC, each giving up one hit, and recording one K (Collins also walked one).
Too Much Tinkering?
Manager Ned Yost threw out a unique lineup last night in Oakland. He decided to give Gordon and Moustakas – both left-handed hitters- the night off against LHP Tommy Milone. In place of Gordon and Moose were Jason Bourgeois in LF and Yuni at 3B. On top of that, Chris Getz was in the lineup at 2B – meaning that all three of the Royals’ super-utility players were on the field at the same time. So this is what the lineup looked like last night:
1. Jason Bourgeois LF
2. Lorenzo Cain CF
3. Eric Hosmer 1B
4. Billy Butler DH
5. Jeff Francoeur RF
6. Yuniesky Betancourt 3B
7. Brayan Pena C
8. Alcides Escobar SS
9. Chris Getz 2B
It’s game number four, and already Ned is giving two guys – who probably weren’t too happy about it – the game off. And, not to mention, this was the Royals’ fourth different lineup in four days. The end result: 0 runs, 3 hits. Yost may be playing around with this lineup a little too much. Just let Gordon and Moose go out there and take their hacks.
- Royals (2-2) @ A’s (2-3)
- Royals LHP Danny Duffy vs. A’s RHP Graham Godfrey
- 9:05 pm CT
There was no rest for the Royals on Sunday, but they didn’t really seem to need it anyway.
The Royals cmae out swinging in the 1st inning against Ervin Santana (0-1). After an Alex Gordon groundout to start the game, Santana plunked Alcides Escobar. Alcides stole second in retalitation, and came around to score after he made a terrific read on Eric Hosmer’s bloop single to LF, putting KC up 1-0. Billy Butler (1) one-upped Hosmer by sending a Santana pitch to the deepest part of the park where Peter Bourjos nearly robbed him of a HR. Billy’s blast made the score 3-0. The Angels got a run off starter Jonathan Sanchez in the bottom of the frame on an Albert Pujols groundball -Albert’s lone RBI in the series (3-1 KC).
The Halos got another run in the bottom of the 3rd by Torii Hunter, bringing in Erick Aybar (3-2 KC).
The Royals had a great scoring opportunity that was nullified by a Lorenzo Cain baserunning gaffe. With Butler on 2B and Cain on 1B, Humberto Quintero lined a single into right. We all know that Torii Hunter has a great arm, and so does Billy apparently. Billy stopped at 3B, and apparently Cain wasn’t paying attention. Hunter’s throw came to the infield, who recognized right away that Cain was stuck in no-man’s land and was promptly tagged out – ending the inning. At the time, this was a gleaming mental mistake that could have cost the Royals a big inning.
In the top of the 5th, with Chris Getz on base, Eric Hosmer (2) continued his hot hitting by sending an Ervin Santana cutter about five rows deep in the RF seats (5-2 KC). That was hosmer’s 2nd HR in as many days. He’d end the day with 3 RBI.
The Royals kept things going in the 6th. Francoeur led the inning off with a single and advanced to 2B on a wild pitch two batter later. That batter, Lorenzo Cain, would reach 1B on an error by Angels 3B Mark Trumbo (3). Humberto Quintero then sent a flyball to CF, which was deep enough for Frenchy to move up to third. The Angels proceeded to pull Santana and brought in Hisanori Takahashi to face Getz. Getz hit a ball up the middle which, after it was deflected by Takahashi, made its way to 2B Howie Kendrick. But by that time, all of the baserunners had advanced, bringing home Francoeur (6-2 KC).
The top of the 7th brought in another Royals run on a double down the LF line by Billy, which brought Hosmer around to score, stretching the lead to five runs (7-2).
Things got a little hairy in the 8th for the Royals. Kelvin Herrera served up a leadoff HR to Vernon Wells (1), shrinking the score to 7-3. After retiring Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo singled to CF. The Royals then swapped Herrera for Aaron Crow, who struck out the next hitter (Bourjos) and retired Erick Aybar on a groundball back to the mound.
The Angels threatened again in the 9th, but were unable to force anymore runs across the plate.
Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez was “effectively wild” yesterday, throwing 99 pitches through 5 innings. He got off to a rough start in the bottom of the 1st after the offense gave him a 3-0 lead to work with. After a one-out single by Howie Kendrick, Sanchez threw a wild pitch to Pujols which popped up behind catcher Humberto Quintero. That little bit of air time allowed Kendrick to move from 1B to 3B on the miscue. Pujols went on to drive in the run with a groundball out to Moustakas. Sanchez proceeded to walk the next batter Torii Hunter. Hunter was able to move up to 2B on an errant pickoff throw over to Hosmer at 1B, which Hoz never had a chance at catching. Sanchez was charged with the error (1), Kansas City’s lone error of the day. It didn’t hurt the team however, as Sanchez struck out Vernon Wells to end the frame.
Trouble reared it’s ugly head again in the Angels’ half of the 3rd when Sanchez struck out leadoff man Erick Aybar. But the third-strike made it’s way passed Quintero, allowing Aybar to reach 1B. Howie Kendrick then doubled, moving Aybar to 3B. In what proved to be a great move, although unintentional, Sanchez walked Prince Albert to load the bases. He then got Hunter to groundout to Hosmer, which allowed each runner to advance (3-2 KC). Sanchez then struck out Wells swinging and induced a Kendrys Morales groundball to short.
The 4th inning was the only inning that Sanchez was able to retire in order. He allowed 2 hits in the 5th to Aybar and Pujols, but nothing came of it and he left the game wil a line of 5 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 4 K, 3 BB, 99 pitchs (59 S, 40 B).
Yost brought in lefty Jose Mijares to pitch the 6th, faced 4 hitters, giving up one hit and striking out 2.
Kelvin Herrera came into the game in the 7th, giving up a leadoff single before inducing a Howie Kendrick 6-4-3 double play. Pujols doubled to left, but Torii Hunter hit an ending-inning groundball to 3B. He stayed in the game to start the 8th, giving up a HR to Wells, a groundout, a Trumbo single, and a Chris Ianetta double before being pulled for Aaron Crow. His final line was 1.1 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 0 K, 0 BB.
Crow came in and retired the next two batters to end the inning without a blemish. Ned left him in to begin the 9th inning, where Crow ran into some trouble. He gave up a leadoff single to Kendrick and a walk to Pujols before being pulled for closer Jonathan Broxton. Line: 0.2 IP, 1 hit, o ER, 1 K, 1 BB.
Broxton was thrown into a two-on, nobody-out situation and did not disappoint. He stranded the two baserunners by striking out the side to end the game, which included Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Kendrys Morales; earning his first save as a member of the Royals. Broxton appeared to be back to his old self, dialing fastballs in the upper 90’s.
Sanchez gave the Royals another strong outing from the rotation. He only lasted 5 innings and was a bit wild at times (2 wild pitches and 1 error on a pickoff attempt), but he maintained the early lead that the offense provided him with. You’ll notice now that Ned isn’t leaving struggling pitchers out there to take their lumps like he did in 2011. If he senses trouble, he’s got someone in the bullpen ready to go.
The bullpen had a solid day as well, combining for 4 innings and only 1 ER, striking out 6 and surrendering 1 walk. Kelvin Herrera had a balk, however. But it didn’t lead to any Angels runs.
Alex Gordon had another hitless game, and has yet to record his first hit on the season. He would have had one if it weren’t for a terrific diving stop by Albert Pujols down the RF line. Moose and Cain went hitless as well, but they both recorded a hit on Saturday, giving them identical averages at .091.
Hosmer and Butler had a HR and 3 RBI apiece, Humberto Quintero hit his third double in 2 games and Chris Getz earned an RBI – both going 2 for 4 on the day. Frenchy and Escobar also had one hit each. Both Hosmer and Escobar had a stolen base. The Royals were 4 for 10 with RISP (runners in scoring position).
The Royals won the series 2 games to 1, and very well could have been 3-0 to start the season if it weren’t for one bad inning on Opening Day.
Eric Hosmer: 2 for 5, 3 runs, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB. Hosmer had a complete game and helped the Royals get off to a great start with a RBI single in the 1st, as well as his two-out, two-run blast in the 5th.
- Ned Yost has said that he may give LF Alex Gordon a night off in the opening game of the A’s series tonight, citing Alex’s 0 for 13 with 6 K start to the season. I see no reason to panic here. We’re three games in. If Alex had an 0 for 13 stretch in mid-June, nobody may have even noticed. There’s no reason to fret about Alex; he’ll come around. Either Mitch Maier or Jason Bourgeois will get the start in left tonight if Yost does indeed sit Gordon.
- If Gordon is infact out of the lineup tonight, who hits in the leadoff spot? It would almost have to be either Lorenzo Cain (.091 AVG) Alcides Escobar, who is hitting .300 thus far and was in the second spot in the order last night, or Chris Getz. All three have great speed and are threats to steal if they get one. My money would be on either Getz or Escobar for tonight.
The Royals begin a 3 game series against the Oakland A’s tonight in the “lovely” Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Game time is 9:05 pm CT. It’ll be the Royals’ righty Luis Mendoza vs. A’s rookie lefty Tommy Milone.