Tagged: Lorenzo Cain

Winter Meetings Recap: Day Two

Tuesday was a much-ado-about-nothing type of day for GMDM and the Royals. No moves were made, but talks with a number of GMs and agents are still ongoing.

No Deal For Dickey

R.A. Dickey‘s name is still flying around the trade rumor mill, with the Royals being one of the teams still in the mix. The Mets appear to be willing to part with the Cy Young award winner, but are asking for premium talent in return – like Wil Myers.

Don’t get me wrong, Dickey is a great guy and fine pitcher. 2012 was a career year and he was the ace of the Mets’ pitching staff. But the guy is 38. No general manager in their right mind (I’m assuming) would give up a player of Wil Myers’ caliber for two years of an aging starting pitcher who gets by on basically a trick pitch. Granted, knuckleballers typically pitch well into their 40s (Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti, etc.), and Dickey seems to have finally figured out how to get hitters to swing and miss. But Dickey will be in the final year of his deal in 2013 and will more than likely test the waters of free agency. So giving up six years of Wil Myers, who projects to be a 25-30 HR-type hitter that should supplant Jeff Francoeur in right field sooner rather than later, for one year of R.A. Dickey doesn’t make much, if any, sense.

Royals officials have since gone as far to say that they definitely will not involve Wil Myers in any deal for R.A. Dickey.

There is another rumor being floated around that the Royals countered the Met’s offer by requesting Dickey in exchange for Lorenzo Cain and Jake Odorizzi. Again, this is a rumor. No official reports have come out that I have seen confirming the offer, but it may be a fair deal for both sides.

Other teams with interest in acquiring Dickey are the Rangers, Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Blue Jays.

Still in on Anibal?

The Royals are still in on starter Anibal Sanchez. It’s been said that Anibal is looking for a multi-year deal worth roughly $15-20 million annually and is considered to be well out of the David Glass’ price range. But the Royals are being noted as one of the more active teams during the Winter Meetings thus far.

Former A’s Pitcher Drawing More Interest

The Royals are also one of a handful of teams with serious interest in signing Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy will come considerably cheaper than Sanchez, as a one or two-year deal for him seems likely right now. He went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA in 18 starts for the A’s last season before his season ended after he was struck in the head by a line drive – causing him to undergo successful brain surgery. Other teams in on McCarthy include the A’s, Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Twins, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Rangers.

In any case, if you have a Twitter account, you should definitely give him a follow.

Who Knew?

In a live chat yesterday, Royals beat writer Bob Dutton mentioned that the Baltimore Orioles have mild interest in acquiring right fielder Jeff Francoeur. The Royals likely wouldn’t get much in return for Frenchy and would probably have to throw in a few million in order to make the deal fair.

As far as I’m concerned, no matter what the Royals get in return, Dayton Moore needs to pull the trigger on this one. Immediately.

Power Ball

Ned Yost wants the Royals to take a new approach at the plate next season.

“I think Salvador Perez can hit 20-25 homeruns. I think Hosmer can hit 30. Moose can hit 30. Gordy can hit 30. I think Cain can hit 20. I think eventualy Wil Myers can hit 30 homers. We’ve got guys who can do this. Billy Butler could hit 40 – he’s got that kind of pop. I want us to open up our offense a little more and start using the long ball to our advantage”. – manager Ned Yost

In short: More power (somewhere I can here Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor grunting…).

The main reason the Royals opted to part ways with former hitting coach Kevin Seitzer is that he preached that hitters to hit gap-to-gap and up the middle rather than swinging for the fences.

Enter Jack Maloof and Andre David. While both will be hitting coaches, Maloof will hold the official position while David will serve as an assistant. Both were previously hitting instructors within the Royals’ minor league system.

Yost went on to say, “I would rather strike out than hit the ball deep to the center field wall and have it caught – unless there’s a man on third base. I’d rather open up the offense a little bit. I’d rather start taking some good swipes at the ball and try to put the ball in the stands because I think we’ve got guys who can do it.”

The Recognition Continues

2012 was a banner year for Big Bill, as he was a first-time All-Star, a first-time Silver Slugger award winner for his role as the team’s DH, and was selected as the Royals’ player of the year for the third time. He also played in a career-high 161 games.

Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion finished second in the balloting.

The only other Royal to win the award was Hal McRae, who did it three times (1976, 1980, 1982).

Second Half Preview

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.

Rising Stars

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:

  1. LF Gordon L
  2. SS Escobar R
  3. 1B Hosmer L
  4. DH Butler R
  5. 3B Moustakas L
  6. RF Francoeur R
  7. C Perez R
  8. 2B Getz L / Betancourt R
  9. 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.

What a Week It Was For Kansas City

The All-Star festivities have officially come and gone in Kansas City.

Billy Butler doffs his hemlet before his first at-bat in the 7th inning to a roaring crowd.

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).

Apparently word gets around. #BooCano Photo Credit: H. Darr beiser / US Presswire

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.

Feeling like Robinson Cano slapped the entire KC community across the face, the outraged Royals fanbase (myself included) took their anger to the Twitterverse. And boy, did it work.

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.

Former Royal Melky Cabrera rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homerun in the top of the 4th inning of the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City. Photo Credit: David Eulitt

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.

Royals Notes

  • 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.

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.

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.

Thoughts on Broxton’s Meltdown, LoCain’s Groin, Gordon’s Big Day, etc.

I sincerely apologize if anyone came by here yesterday or the day before looking for a post after the Royals gave away the series finale to the A’s. I was too gut-wrenched at the time. But I’ve had some time to think.

A 3-3 road trip – not too shabby. The mantra is “Go .500 on the road, win at home”.

The Royals could have easily been 6-0 coming into today if it weren’t for one bad inning (Angels – game 1 of the series), base running blunders in a 1-0 game (A’s – game 1 of the series), and an ugly bottom of the 12th (A’s – game 3 of the series).

But here we are.

Broxton’s Beans

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

After going up 4-3, Ned Yost brought Jonathan Broxton in to closeout the game in the 12th inning. Brox got off to a great start, striking out Daric Barton. Seth Smith then hit a groundball to the glove side of Alcides Escobar. Esky fumbled the ball initially, picked it up, and made an offline throw to Hosmer at first. Hosmer, at the time, made a game saving play by diving away from the bag to stop the ball from rolling into the limitless amount of foul territory. Smith was safe, one on and one-out.

Broxton then walked Jemile Weeks on four pitches. Then Eric Sogard on six pitches. Bases jacked, one-out. The situation is tense, but still manageable.

Coco Crisp hit a groudball to Yuni’s glove side, pulling him away from second base. Given Crisp’s speed, the double-play possibility was eliminated. Yuni threw to first for the out, but the tying run still scored. Two outs, 4-4 ball game, runners on second and third.

The next pitch: a 95 mph fastball. Right into Yoenis Cespedes’ ribs, loading the bases.

Yost came out for a mound visit, but left Brox in the game. Hindsight is 20/20.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Johnny Gomes takes a Broxton fastball in the hip. Game over.

Back to back walks. Two pitches, two hit batters.

If Broxton were in any other position in this bullpen, he would have been yanked right after he loaded the bases, if not before. But it’s that closer title he’s been given that made Ned think that he should stay in there and stick it out. If any other reliever had given up three straight free passes like that, don’t you think Ned would made the switch?

Now it all wasn’t Broxton’s fault. The usual sure-handed Escobar made a costly error too. He makes that play 95% of the time. If he makes the play properly, it’s nobody on and two outs. And, more importantly, no pressure.

But in the end, Broxton deservedly took the loss.

Cain to the DL

Lorezno Cain made a terrific play on Tuesday, crashing into the wall in deep center while robbing the A’s of an RBI and extra bases. Cain hurt his groin when he hit the wall and was pulled from the game an inning later. It was a Grade 1 groin strain, the least severe. Cain got Wednesday’s game off, as well as Thursday due to the team’s day off. He planned to be ready for the home opener.

Lorenzo was placed on the 15-day DL yesterday due to a strained left groin.

It’s more of a precautionary move, due to the fact that Cain’s biggest asset is his speed and range in the outfield. The Royals want to take care of this issue now to make sure it won’t become a lingering issue. Jarrod Dyson was called up from Triple A Omaha to take Cain’s spot on the roster. Dyson was hitting .364 in Omaha thus far (12 for 33) with 6 SB.

The Royals have a plethora of options to fill the center field void left by Cain: left-handed hitters Mitch Maier and Jarrod Dyson, and right-handed hitting Jason Bourgeois.

Gordon Gets Off the Schneid

Photo Credit: Eric Risberg / AP

Alex Gordon broke his season-long hitless streak on Wednesday in a big way.

In his second AB of the game, Alex hit a RBI single into center field – hit first hit of the season. But Alex didn’t let up much after that.

Gordon (1) sent a Brian Fuentes sinker over the wall in center field, which tied the game at 3-3.

Alex ended the game going 2 for 5 with a single, HR, BB, 0 K, and 2 RBI.

He also made a great diving catch to end the bottom of the 5th, robbing Josh Reddick of a base hit and possible RBI – keeping the game at 3-2 Oakland.

Recovery Updates

Catcher Salvador Perez is making progress on the road to recovery. After a sucessful surgery four weeks ago, Sal was able to ditch the crutches and walk freely through the Royals clubhouse.

Felipe Paulino, who was sent to the DL because of a strained right forearm, is progressing as well. He began throwing off of a mound in a bullpen workout a few days ago. He was able to throw live batting practice on Thursday, stating, “I feel good, strong, I want to help this team now.” He should be sent out on a few minor league rehab assignments some time soon.

Home Opener

Weather permitting, the Royals will play their first game at The K in 2012 today at 3:10 CT against the division rival Cleveland Indians. The Indians are 1-4 thus far on the season, being outscored 31-20 through five games. The Royals (3-3) have outscored their opponents 18-16.

The starters will be Cleveland’s Derek Lowe (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Kansas City’s Luke Hochevar (1-0, 2.84 ERA).

The forecast for today’s game is mostly cloudy, mid-60’s, with about a 20% chance of rain.

Damon Lands in Cleveland

Speaking of the Tribe, they have struck a one-year deal with 38 year old outfielder, and former Royal, Johnny Damon. After he’s added to the team’s 40-man roster, the left-handed Damon figures to platoon with right-handed Shelley Duncan in left field.

Johnny, who is coming off a good season with Tampa (.261/.326, 29 2B, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 19 SB), is only 277 hits away from 3,000 for his career. He figures to reduce that number greatly this season in Cleveland.

Given the absence of Grady Sizemore for another 8-12 weeks (what else is new?), the Indians found themselves needing more offense production from their outfield; hence the Damon deal.

Duffy Dominates Despite Drizzle

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.

Photo Credit: Ben Margot / AP

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.

Photo Credit: Ben Margot / AP

Game Notes

  • 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.

Today’s lineups:

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

Oakland Athletics

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