Tagged: Danny Duffy

The Rotation: It’s Time For a Change

I’m going to take a step away from my usual optimistic take on the Royals right now. Now standing at 31-39, 6 games back of the White Sox, and just 1.5 games ahead of the lowly Twins, the Royals just had their most heart-breaking series as of yet. The Cardinals outscored them 30-14 during the weekend series in Kansas City. The Royals’ starting pitchers (Vin Mazzaro, Luis Mendoza, and Jonathan Sanchez) combined for 11.1 innings, 17 runs (all earned), 7 Ks, 10 BBs (6 from Jonathan Sanchez), and 238 pitches (101 of which were balls).

Something has to change.

Here is how the current rotation is fairing according to WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

  1. Bruce Chen: 6-6, 4.54 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.6 WAR
  2. Vin Mazzaro: 3-2, 5.14 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.0 WAR
  3. Luis Mendoza: 2-4, 4.95 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, -0.1 WAR
  4. Luke Hochevar: 4-7, 5.65 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, -0.3 WAR
  5. Jonathan Sanchez: 1-3, 6.21 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 7.3 BB/9 -0.3 WAR

Now, given, the Royals’ starting rotation has taken an absolute beating this season when it comes to health. Both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are Tommy John victims; Duffy, Paulino, Sanchez have had stints on the DL; basically every starter outside of Bruce Chen has had extreme bouts of inconsistency.

The bottom line is this: No self-respecting organization would consistently trot a rotation like this one out to the mound 5-7 days a week.

In Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Jonathan Sanchez gave up six runs (all earned) and walked six hitters in 5.1 innings while throwing 111 pitches. Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The losses of Duffy (6 starts, 2-2, 3.90 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 5.9 BB/9) and Paulino (7 starts, 3-1, 1.67 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9) really hurt this team, as they were arguably the most effective and consistent starters the Royals have had this season.

The Royals have had a myriad of mostly ineffective fill-ins and spot-starters this season: Luis Mendoza (13 games, 8 starts), Vin Mazzaro (6 games, 5 starts), Will Smith (3 games, 3 starts), Nate Adcock (9 games, 2 starts), and Everett Teaford (3 games, 1 start). All in all, the Royals have had 10 different starting pitchers to date.

I’ll say it again: Something has to change.

Clearly, the type of work that has been done by Sanchez, Mendoza, Mazzaro, Hochevar, Smith, Adcock, and Teaford can be at least matched – if not bested – by almost anybody else (combined 253.1 IP, 11-22 record, 155 ER, 6.12 ERA).

Fans, bloggers, reporters, writers, radio hosts, and the like are all calling for the Royals to make a change.

Do something we haven’t seen before.

And most importantly for each and every Royals fan: Give us a reason to believe in this team. Show us that you want to give this organization the best chance to win.

Because these guys aren’t it.

I’m sure Dayton Moore hears us all clamoring for the team to make a move. Afterall, being harolded as a great baseball minded individual, he can’t possibly think that this is the best we can do. I’m sure he’s fielding trade offers to some degree, keeping in mind that Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers are off the table.

Names like Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Dempster, Joe Blanton, and many others are all floating around the rumor mill – with the Royals having possible interest in nearly all of them. Garza, as young and talented as he is, would command a major return since he isn’t arbitration eligible until after 2013. Rodriguez and Dempster fall more under the veteran rent-a-pitcher category for teams in a playoff push as they are both in the final year of their respective contracts. Guthrie and Blanton are both well-seasoned, over-paid veterans who could fill a spot in just about every team’s starting rotation – albeit as a teams third, fourth, or fifth starter. Outside of Matt Garza, acquiring any of the other names I mentioned would be virtual waste of time and prospects given the Royals current spot in the standings.

Of course, the other consideration: call somebody up!

Although the Royals pitching depth at the Triple-A level isn’t overwhelming right now, there are a few names who could do the same or better than what the Royals have in Kansas City right now.

  • Jake Odorizzi: Izzy is the concensus’ top pitching prospect in the Royals’ system (and maybe even the organization’s best pitcher talent-wise). At 22, the right-hander has been dominating minor league hitters at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels. In his first 7 starts, while at Double-A NW Arkansas, Jake was 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 38 IP with a K:BB ratio of 4.7:1 and a WHIP of 0.97. Jake has continued to roll through minor league lineups after being promoted to Omaha to the tune of a 5-0 record with an ERA of just 2.72, a K:BB ratio of 3.2:1, and a 1.36 WHIP in 7 games (6 starts) totaling 39.2 innings. At this point, what more does he have to accomplish at the minor league level? This guy is big league ready in my opinion. It’s time for him to make the jump.
  • Mike Montgomery: Monty has been passed by Odorizzi in the prospect rankings lately, as he has seen his performance decline since being promoted to Omaha in 2011. Struggles aside, Mike still has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues. So far, Mike has a 3-4 record in 14 starts this season with a less-than-stellar 4.76 ERA. He has 53 Ks in 79.1 IP, but he also has 38 BB – a 1.4 K:BB ratio (a 2:1 ratio is the standard). His performance as of late has been progressing, but it’s the lack of talent in Kansas City right now that could warrant his promotion. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery.
  • Ryan Verdugo: The other guy KC got in the Melky Cabrera-Jonathan Sanchez trade, lefty Ryan Verdugo has been fairly good this season in Omaha. Before last season, Duggy had been used primarily as a reliever. He was converted into a starter while still in the Giants organization and has continued to start for the Storm Chasers. He’s 5-2 in 14 starts (79 IP), owning a 3.65 ERA, a 1.5:1 K:BB ratio, and a WHIP of 1.28. He was called up to the big league club back in June to serve out of the bullpen, but he never made an appearance before being optioned back down to Omaha. Given his numbers this season, Verdugo appears to be a serviceable rotation arm who should garner a serious look in Kansas City.
  • Nate Adcock: After being selected by the Royals in the 2010-11 Rule 5 Draft, Adcock spent all of last season in Kansas City as the long-reliever/spot-starter – and did a failry decent job. The 24 year old sinkerballer was 1-1 with a 4.62 ERA in 24 games (3 starts) totaling 60.1 innings. In 2012, Nate has split time between Omaha (where he’s in the rotation) and Kansas City (in the same role he had last season). He’s done well enough in both spots (Omaha: 6 games/5 starts, 3-2, 3.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP; KC: 9 games/2 starts, 0-3, 3.12 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) that one could assume that he could replicate those numbers against big league lineups. He at least deserves a chance.
  • Everett Teaford: After toiling around in the minor leagues for 5+ seasons, lefty Everett Teaford, now 28, made his big league debut last season to the tune of a 2-1 record and 3.27 ERA in 26 games (3 starts). Like Adcock, Teaford has split time between Omaha and KC. In 3 games with Kansas City this season, he’s left a little to be desired given his 5.73 ERA and 7 walks in 3 games (1 start, 11 IP). But he’s pitched very well in Omaha, thus far going 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in 7 games (6 starts).  His WHIP is solid at 0.97, and he’s striking out nearly 7 hitters per 9 innings. He’s the most likely to be called up soon in my mind since he’s a lefty and can fill a hole in either the rotation or the ‘pen.
  • Will Smith: Will got a shot at being a member of the big league rotation in late May and early June, sandwiching one quality start with two less-than-quality outings (1-2, 9.00 ERA). His record in Omaha doesn’t look much much better (1-4, 11 starts), but he has a semi-respectable 4.65 ERA and a 3:1 K:BB ratio. At 22 years old, Will may not have been ready to play with the big boys when he was first called up. And he may not be ready if his name is called once again. But, as I’ve said before, he presents more hope and potential than most of the starters the Royals a currently sending to the mound.
  • Doug Davis: At 36, Doug Davis is hardly a top prospect. But, for what it’s worth, the 13-year veteran is pitching well in Omaha. In 7 games (3 starts) Doug is 3-1 and sports a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 IP. I wouldn’t particularly like to see him take up space on the big league roster, but I guess there are worse choices.

Or just call up Wil Myers already. #FreeWilly

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News and Notes From the Royals’ First Interleague Sweep in Three Years

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.

“That’s what speed do.” Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP

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

Photo Credit: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

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.

Zack Attacked

Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP

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.

Rehab Updates

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

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

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.

Tommy John Claims Another Victim

It’s yet another instance of the worst-case scenario coming to fruition for the Royals.

Danny Duffy’s MRI on Monday in KC revealed every pitcher’s biggest fear: a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

And the only cure? Tommy John surgery.

Danny Duffy will likely have to undergo season-ending surgery after an examination revealed a torn UCL in his left elbow.

In a season filled with ups and downs, losing arguably this team’s best and most promising pitcher could prove to be the biggest blow of them all. Duffy has shown so much promise this season. He was 2-2 with a solid 3.90 ERA, was averaging 9.1 K/9, and had the second highest average fastball in baseball at 95.3 mph.

Given the nature of their business, almost all pitchers have a tear of some degree in the elbow of their throwing arm. It’s usually just a matter of time before either it tears completely or the team decides it’s the right time to have the surgery. The Royals chose to go with the latter alternative.

The Royals have known about a tear in Duffy’s elbow since 2010. Duffy usually experiences some sort of elbow pain after a start, which has been the norm for him over the past few years – so the Royals never really gave his elbow pain much thought. A few weeks ago, the team decided to skip one of Duffy’s starts because his elbow pain was more intense than usual. So why didn’t the Royals give him an MRI then?

It’s a solid question begged by fans, radio hosts, and columnists alike.

But the Royals already knew about Duffy’s elbow tear. An MRI then would not have revealed anything they didn’t know already.

Duffy came back and made two more solid starts before leaving the game on Sunday.

The bottom line of the ordeal is this:

Danny Duffy’s elbow was a ticking timebomb. It was only a matter of time before he was going to need to undergo Tommy John surgery. Duffy throws extremely hard and possesses a curveball that has an extreme bite to it; he generally throws a lot of pitches and is a max effort guy.

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said that the Cardinals knew about a tear in then-pitching-prospect Adam Wainwright’s right elbow back in 2004. They opted to bypass the surgery at the time, knowing that he’d need it at some point in the future. What happened after that? Wainwright went on to close out the 2006 World Series, became a multiple Cy Young candidate, win 20-games, and a NL Gold Glove. He finally went under the knife in February of 2011 – 7+ years later.

All in all, the Royals and Danny Duffy just wan into bad luck on this one.

The only way to prevent having Tommy John surgery, according to the man whom the surgery is named after, is this: don’t be pitcher. You can’t blame Ned Yost on this one. Or Dayton Moore. Or even David Glass.

The typical recovery time for TJ surgery is anywhere between 10 and 18 months. So, at this rate, Duffy could be back around this time next year at the earliest.

It was only a matter of time. Better now than next year.

Royals Bleach the White Sox 9-1, Take the Series

With last night’s victory over the Chicago Red White Sox, the Royals are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are 10-6 in their last 16. IF, and that’s a very big if (get it?), this team can maintain a .600 clip, they could very well find themselves right back in the mix of things in the AL Central and Wild Card race. A .600 winning % equals out to roughly 97 wins a season. But in order for the Royals to win 97 games, they’d have to play much better than .600 baseball.

Regardless, winning 6 of your last 10 and taking two series’ in a row (not to mention taking 2 of 4 from the Yankees) is great news for this team. Let’s look at the series that was…

Dunn In

It looks like the Donkey is back on his old trail again. In the 1st inning of Friday night’s game, Dunn blasted a solo-shot to deep right off of Felipe Paulino to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead. The South Siders never looked back after that as they went on to win 5-0.

Paulino had a fairly decent performance in his second outing of the season. He gave up seven four runs (all earned) on seven hits while striking out six and walking one in 5.2 innings.

Holland Returns

After spending two weeks on the DL with a rib injury and taking part in a joint-effort no-hitter in a rehab assignment with Northwest Arkansas, Greg Holland rejoined the big league team in Chicago and reassumed his role in the bullpen. To make room for Greg, Nate Adcock was reassigned back to Triple A Omaha.

Holland appeared in the final two games of the series against the White Sox, throwing 1.1 scoreless innings in late-relief. He recorded 4 K’s to 2 BB’s while surrendering a lone hit.

Hosmer Moves Down

In an effort to take a little pressure off his bat, Ned Yost has decided to shift Eric Hosmer from his usual all-important no. 4 slot in the lineup to the no. 6 slot on Saturday. Yost said the down shift was mostly due to the fact that the Royals were facing a left-handed starter that day (Chris Sale) and that Hosmer has been “fighting it a little bit”. AKA – he’s trying too hard.

Hosmer went 2-for-9 during his two games in the 6 slot with a run scored an a RBI. He managed to get up his batting average to .180. He’s batting just .163/.200/.233 in the month of May (7-for-43) with just 2 XBH (0 HR) and 4 RBI. He’s only managed to work two walks this month; on a positive note, he’s struck out only five times – meaning he’s making consistent contact. He’s just been really, really unlucky (evidenced by his .171 BAbip).

The team hopes that moving him down in the order will help Hosmer relax a little more at the plate and help change his mentality at the plate. instead of coming to the plate knowing that he’s the guy, he can go up there and just look for a base hit to help set the table.

Moose Takes a Seat

After playing in the first game of the series in Chicago, Mike Moustakas was held out of the final two games with what was termed as a sore hamstring. Mike also missed the final game of the series against Boston with the same issue. Utility-man Irving Falu filled in for Moose in each of those games, going 5-for-13 in the three games while playing comparable defense.

Mike is currently leading the Royals with a .308 AVG and has at least one hit in 7 of the 8 games he’s played this month.

Right now it looks like Moose will be in the lineup tonight as the Royals take on the Rangers in Arlington, TX.

Hochevar Rebounds

Luke Hochevar continued his season-long Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde act on Saturday night by shutting down Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and the Pale Hose for 7 solid innings. Hoch struck out five and walked one while giving up just three hits, earning his third win of the season.

The Royals’ offense backed him early by scoring three runs in the top of the first. The only “threat” the White Sox poised against Hochevar was in the bottom of the 2nd. With one down, Hoch walked A.J. Pierzynski and gave up a single to Alex Rios. But he got the next batter, Alexei Ramirez, to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

In his previous two outings, Hochevar had given up a total of 16 runs, 19 hits, and 4 BB in just 6.1 innings.

With the win, Hochevar (3-3) lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 7.20.

Royals Sign Doug Davis

Given the Royals’ recent injury problems, the team went out and signed veteran left-handed starter Doug Davis. Davis, at 36, is a 13-year veteran who has a 92-108 career record in 306 games spread throughout five different organizations. Doug was assigned to extended Spring Training in Arizona where he will workout in anticipation of being sent to Omaha.

This was strictly a veteran depth move – very similar to when the Royals inked Jeff Suppan last year.

Duffy Exits Early

After throwing just 13 pitches and recording two outs in the bottom of the 1st on Sunday afternoon, catcher Humberto Quintero signaled for Ned Yost and head trainer Nick Kinney to come out to the mound and check on Danny Duffy’s arm. Although there were no clear visual signs of discomfort, Quintero saw Duffy shake his out his arm after a pitch.

Yost came out and talked to Duffy, who revealed that he was experiencing soreness in his left elbow, prompting Ned to pull him from the game and call-in swing-man Luis Mendoza. Mendoza pitched terrifically, going 5.2 innings, giving up only one run and striking out seven.

If you recall, Duffy has already missed a start this season due to an elbow issue. Instead of sending him to the DL, the team merely skipped his turn in the rotation in hopes that it was only a minor issue.

After undergoing an MRI today in Kansas City, the Royals have decided to send Duffy to the 15-day DL and recall the recently optioned Nate Adcock to fill his roster spot.

Gio Comes Through

In the top of the 7th, the Royals were down 1-0 with Alcides Escobar on first, the White Sox brought in lefty Matt Thornton to face left-handed hitters Jarrod Dyson and Chris Getz. Thornton lead off his night by walking Dyson, which moved Escobar to second (agruably the team’s two fastest runners). In order to play the match-up game, Ned opted to pinch-hit the right-handed Johnny Giavotella for the lefty Chris Getz.

During Gio’s AB, Escobar and Dyson advanced a base on Thornton’s wild pitch.

Giavotella worked a great at-bat against Thorton and eventually sent a 1-2 fastball that was away down the right field line for a two-run double – his first hit of the season – Royals lead 2-1.

Frenchy Finally Goes Yard

The Royals extended their 2-1 lead in the 8th wneh Jeff Francoeur sent Nate Jone’s pitch to deep left field to the tune of a 400+ foot solo shot, his first of the season. This was his first homerun since September 23 of last season, which ironically was in U.S. Cellular Field.

Frenchy hit 20 HR last season and had 22 SB. He has yet to steal a base this season.

Hanging Six

The 3-1 lead was more than enough for the Royals to get the victory last night, but that didn’t stop them from adding six insurance runs in the top of the 9th.

The Royals sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the 9th, with both Alcides Escobar and Humberto Quintero batting twice in the inning. The runs scored on a passed ball (1), a bases loaded hit-by-pitch (1), an infield single (1), a fielder’s choice (1), a single to center (1), and a single to right (1).

To recap. that’s six runs on one mistake pitch, 3 singles, a hit batter, and a fielder’s choice.

The Royals forced Addison Reed and Eric Stults to throw 46 pitches combined in the inning.

Coming Up

The Royals will be in Arlington tonight to take on the AL-leading Texas Rangers in game one of a short two-game series.

The Royals (13-20) now stand just 4.5 games back of the first-place Cleveland Indians. The team has won four of their last five games and and have won or split each of their last five series (2 wins, 3 splits). The Royals boast a road record of 9-7.

The Rangers (23-12) have the best record in the American League and are sitting 5 games ahead of second place Oakland. Josh Hamilton is the hottest hitter in baseball, leading the entire league in batting average (.402), home runs (18), and RBI (44). They’re 6-4 in their last 10 and have a home record of 10-6.

Since 2005, the Rangers are 39-19 against the Royals.

Tonight’s game begins at 7:05 CT. It will be Bruce Chen (1-4, 4.83 ERA) for the Royals against Scott Feldman (0-0, 4.35 ERA) of the Rangers.

 

Young Guns Shine in Victory Over the Evil Empire

Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Danny Duffy all came through in a big way for the Royals last night in the team’s 4-3 victory over the Yankees. Other than the win to end the 12-game skid, this was the team’s most important victory of 2012 thus far.

Duffy (2-2) got the win by throwing 5.1 quality innings, giving up just 2 ER on 6 hits while recording 6 K and 2 BB. In traditional Duffy fashion, his pitch count was relatively high at the time of his exit (90 pitches – 52 strikes). But this start was really important for Danny and the Royals.

Danny Duffy warms up during a game against the New York Yankees at The K. (Photo Credit: Ed Zurga / Getty Images)

Coming into the game, the Royals were winless at home thanks to that dreaded 10-game homestand. The team needed to get off to a good start at home this time around and are charged with facing the Yankees for the first four games and the Red Sox for the last three. So, needless to say, they’re going to need a solid outing from each of their starting pitchers. And that’s exactly what Duffy gave the Royals last night.

Jarrod Dyson, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas shaped the game for KC.

Dyson had perhaps the best game of his big league career, going 2-for-4, including an infield single and a run scored. But his offense wasn’t what made the most noise last night. Dyce actually had a great game defensively. The Yankees sent the ball deep to center with runners on three times. Now anyone who has watched him roam center this season knows that Dyson, who possesses world-class speed, has frequently taken gotten poor reads and/or taken poor paths to flyballs which often lead to extra-base hits and runs scored. But Dyson owned center field last night, keeping the Yankees offense at bay, by making solid plays on the fly toward the center field wall that guys like Mitch Maier might not have been able to reach.

Hosmer showed signs that he’s ready to bust out of his slump by hitting a RBI single into center in the 3rd and a two-out single to left field in the 5th. He came around to score later in the inning. In the bottom of the 9th, with nobody out and runners on first and second, Mark Teixeira hit a sure seeing-eye single, which probably would have scored Jeter from second if it weren’t for a diving stab by Chris Getz. Getz then flipped the ball to Escobar for the out at second. With Granderson coming into second hard, Escobar did all he could to get the throw off to first. Hosmer made a terrific pick on the ball as Escobar’s throw tailed into the dirt to complete the double-play, beating Teixeira to the bag by a nose.

Mike Moustakas hits a two-RBI single during the fifth inning against the Yankees. (Photo Credit: AP Photo / Orlin Wagner)

But the player of the game clearly was Mike Moustakas. What a game…

In the bottom of the 2nd, Moustakas sent rookie David Phelps’ (0-2) 3-1 pitch deep to dead center for a solo homerun, his 4th on the young season, giving the Royals an early 1-0 lead. The unofficial-official tape on Moose’s bomb had it measured out at 420 ft.

In the top of the 4th, with a Yankee runner on first, Eduardo Nunez hit a choppy groundball to Moose, who made a sharp back-handed stop and threw to Getz at second to start the 5-4-3 double-play. The double-play was critical because the next hitter, Russell Martin, singled to center field. Say Moose bobbles that ball and is only able to get the out at first – now you have runners on first and third with one out. Martin was able to advance from first to second on a Danny Duffy balk. If there was a runner on third in that instance, he would have advanced as well and would have tied the game at 2-2. It’s the little things that go unnoticed that often can make the biggest difference – especially in a one-run game.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th, Moose lined a single into right field that scored both Gordon and Hosmer and gave the Royals a 4-1 lead.

Skip ahead to the bottom of the 9th. Two outs, Jeter on third, and Alex Rodriguez at the plate, and the crowd was roaring.

After falling behind 0-2, A-Rod fouled off enough pitches to make Jonathan Broxton start trying to work his off-speed stuff outside the zone. He eventually worked the count to 3-2 when he slapped a slow, chopping, dying grounder toward thirdbase. Moustakas came charging in, picked up the ball bare-handed, and made a terrific, off-balanced throw to Hosmer that beat A-Rod to the bag by a full step to end the game and seal the win.

Eric Hosmer celebrates after forcing out Alex Rodriguez to seal the Royals’ 4-3 victory over the Yankees. (Photo Credit: AP Photo / Orlin Wagner)

The “Moooooose” calls seemed to rain down on Kauffman all night and spilled all the way out into the parking lot after the game.

Moose was clutch, pure and simple.

Go Crazy, Folks.

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:

Eric Hosmer celebrates with Billy Butler after Butler hit a solo home run during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians. (Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

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.

Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas, celebrate their 8-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

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.

Royals Turn it Up to Eleven

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.
  • 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!