Luke Hochevar is no longer being considered for the no. 5 slot in the Royals’ rotation.
In just three outings this spring totaling all of 8.0 innings, Hoch has surrendered 6 runs (all earned), 9 hits (including 2 HR), and had a WHIP of 1.88.
Mercifully, Hochevar’s time in the Royals’ rotation appears to be over. Manager Ned Yost has decided move the long-time starter to the bullpen, leaving the fifth rotation spot up for grabs between Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza. Yost said that, while they’re long shots, Will Smith and Yordano Ventura are still in the mix for the job as well.
Given his history as a starter and his ability to throw a mid-90’s fastball that’s coupled with a decent sinker/slider combo, Luke could serve as both a long-man in the bullpen (if need be) or a late-inning guy – depending on the situation. As of right now, I would envision Luke’s role in the ‘pen as either a 6th or 7th inning guy. The fact that he’s only pitched out of the bullpen three times in his career makes me wary of the thought of him pitching late in meaningful games.
It was time for a change. Actually, it is well past the time for a change. The Royals have been trying to move Hochevar all winter long, talking the most with the Colorado Rockies (Hoch is from Denver, by the way). It has been reported that the asking price for Hochevar is “quite a bit”, which is understandable given that this organization seems to be enamored with a pitcher who has a career 5.39 ERA, -0.3 WAR, and is still going through salary arbitration (he’s scheduled to make $4.56 million in 2013). But, as Ned and GMDM have beaten into the ground, Hoch has the “stuff” to be a quality starting pitcher.
He really does, though.
We’ve all seen him dominate. We’ve all also see him have a perfect game going into the 5th, 6th, or 7th inning before imploding and costing the team the game.
It’s time to ask Luke for just one good inning.
This move is similar to what the Rays did with Wade Davis last season. They’re both big-bodied pitchers who are capable of dialing it up if asked to go one inning at a time. Davis thrived in the bullpen last season (54 appearances, 70.1 IP, 2.43 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 1.4 WAR) before being traded to Kansas City with the intention of sliding him back into the rotation. If the Royals can get anything even remotely close to that from Hoch, they’ll be ecstatic.
“I think it makes us a better team. I think it makes us a stronger team. It gives us a better chance to win every day. With three weeks left, I want to get him acclimated to that role.” – Ned Yost on moving Hochevar to the bullpen (Kansas City Star)
Luke appears to be taking the move in stride and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
“I’m willing to take the ball in any position that I can to help the club. That’s the bottom line. Whether it’s starting or in relief, whatever it is, my role is not important. What’s important is that when I take the ball, I’m helping the club.” – Hochevar on moving to the bullpen (Kansas City Star)
Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, taking place this year in Nashville, is possibly the most exciting/frantic/nerve-racking four day period of the offseason. General managers, scouts, and agents alike will be calling, texting, and talking one another’s ear off in hopes of finding the right fit- to either make a trade or sign a free agent.
When it comes to the Royals and Dayton Moore, there are no questions as to what the Royals want, who they’re willing to part with, and how roughly how much money they have to make a deal happen. The Royals want relatively young, controllable, cost-effective starting pitching; are willing to listen to offers involving practically any player outside of Salvador Perez, and have a “soft cap” of around $70 million for 2013.
Starting pitching is going to set the price this winter, whether it be through the free agent or trade market. Zack Greinke is looking to become the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history, Anibal Sanchez is said to be looking for a multi-year contract worth roughly $15-20 million per year, Scott Feldman landed a one-year, $6 million deal, and two-years, $26 million wasn’t enough for the Royals to land Ryan Dempster (not yet, at least).
So who do the Royals deem worthy of pursuit?
So far, we’ve heard about the Royals interest in a few of the game’s better starting pitchers: James Shields (Rays), Jon Lester (Red Sox) and R.A. Dickey (Mets).
James Shields has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball over the past three or so seasons, but he’s owed $11 million in 2013 and has a $12 million team option for 2014. So barring an extension, he’d be hitting the free agent market after 2014. He also turns 32 later this month. In return, the Rays are looking for immediate offensive production and have been asking about top prospect Wil Myers and DH Billy Butler. The Rays are also said to be open to dealing Jeremy Hellickson in a potential deal and would listen on lefties David Price and Matt Moore.
Jon Lester, who is coming off a down season (9-14, 4.82 ERA), is in the same boat as Shields: he’ll be making roughly $12 million in 2013 and has a team option of $13 million for 2014 (which can be voided by Lester if he finishes first or second in Cy Young voting). He’ll be 29 in January. The Red Sox are in a transition period, where they intend to compete while restructruring their roster. Of course, they too would like to add Wil Myers’ bat to their lineup, but could use help at nearly every position outside of second base and center field.
R.A. Dickey, who is 38 years young, is coming off a career year where he went 20-6 with a 3.73 ERA en route to winning the NL Cy Young award. While R.A. would immediately become the Royals’ ace, he won’t be had for next to nothing. The Mets are likely trying to command a significant haul for Dickey. Given his age, they’re going to have a hard time doing so. The Mets are said to be looking for a catcher, outfielders, and bullpen arms. The Royals won’t dangle Perez, nor would they Wil Myers. I could see them building a deal around Aaron Crow + prospect help however.
The team is still reportedly interested in right-hander Bud Norris of the Astros. He’s young (27), controllable (first-time arbitration this offseason), relatively inexpensive, would not cost the team much in terms of big league talent, nor would he command a top prospect like Myers.
Other rumored trade partners are the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles. Both organizations are said to have serious interest in Billy Butler. The Mariners have the starting pitching depth (Jason Vargas, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer) along with secondary players (possibly 2B Dustin Ackley or SS/2B Nick Franklin) to spin a deal for the 26-year old slugger. Outside The Orioles on the other hand don’t really have enough pitching depth that they would be able to pull from in order to land Butler.
I’m not high on trading Butler for prospects unless the Royals are able to land another starting pitcher – either through trade
In contrast, with Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, and Jeff Francoeur all officially on board for next season, the Dayton Moore will be looking to ship one or all of them in order to free up payroll. Hochevar is on schedule for around $4 million through arbitration, Chen is due $4.5 million this season, while Frenchy is due $7.5 million.
Finding takers for Hoch and Chen, although difficult, would presumably be easier to do than finding a taker for Frenchy. But if the Royals were able to move any of said contracts, it could severely impact their ability to attain starting pitching, allowing them to potentially go after free agents like Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Loshe, Ryan Dempster, or Edwin Jackson.
Other free agents the Royals are considering that possibly fall within their price range: Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum, Jair Jurrjens, Brett Myers, Carlos Villanueva, and Jeff Karstens. None of the aforementioned pitchers would demand a large multi-year deal, which fits perfectly within the realm of what Dayton Moore is trying to do.
The Royals are also reportedly seeking a veteran infielder who can play shortstop. Apparently they don’t think current utility guys Tony Abreu and Irving Falu fit the bill defensively at short, going so far as to say that if Alcides Escobar were to miss significant playing time they’d likely promote either Christian Colon or Alex McClure from the minors to fill the position. Veterans free agents like Ronny Cedeno, Alex Gonzalez, and Ryan Theriot all profile for the role.
- Joakim Soria, who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, has agreed to a two-year deal reportedly worth $8-9 million with the Texas Rangers. He’ll still be rehabing when Opening Day 2013 comes around, but when he comes back he’ll serve as the set-up man for closer Joe Nathan. The Angels, Red Sox, and Reds were also reportedly in on Soria.
- Mitch Maier has officially agreed to a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox.
- The Dodgers, Angels, and Rangers are said to the top contenders for the services of one Donald Zackary Greinke. Zack is said to possibly command as much as 7-years and $185 million on the open market. The Braves have been rumored to have interest in him as well.
But that’s an old question.
As Royals fans, we’ve all been here before. You know what I’m talking about – Good Luke, Bad Luke, and Awful-Goodfornothing Luke. He’s a polarizing figure, really. We’ve seen stretches, usually three or four starts, where Hoch just absolutely stinks. He’ll lose command of his breaking pitches, his fastball will get straight, and the opposing team gap-doubles him into a pulp.
And then we see stretches where Hoch just has everything figured out. His two-seamer will bite in and out of the zone and his curveball falls off the table – allowing him to work his secondary pitches in there with ease. That’s when Luke is really dominant.
For right now, Hochevar is currently in his dominant stretch.
Last night, Luke and the Royals’ defense completely shutdown the Rays lineup. It was his fourth career complete game and his second career shutout. Luke was able to get the Rays to scatter seven singles throughout the night, and only got into one sticky situation when the Rays got two-straight singles to leadoff their half of the 5th inning. Hoch countered by striking out the next three hitters, which happened to be the top of the Rays’ lineup, to end the threat and the inning.
In has last three starts, he’s 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and has 19 K’s to just 6 BB.
- 6/14: Milwaukee: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 5 K’s, 1 BB, 11 Groundballs, 87 pitches (ND)
- 6/19: @Houston: 7.2 IP, 5H, 0 R (0 ER), 6 K’s, 4 BB, 11 Groundballs, 93 pitches
- 6/25: Tampa Bay: 9.0 IP, 7 H. 0 R (0 ER), 8 K’s, 1 BB, 11 Groundballs, 113 pitches
In these three starts, Luke was nothing short of dominating. He saw his W-L record improve from 3-7 to 5-7 and his ERA drop from 6.57 to 5.07 (still not great, but encouraging).
One thing to keep in mind: the lineups Luke has gone up against during this red-hot three-game stretch aren’t exactly Murderer’s Row. Milwaukee (23rd), Houston (19th), and Tampa Bay (27th) all rank in the bottom half of baseball in batting average. Not to take anything away from him, but it needs to be known.
I’m ecstatic for Luke and the Royals, but until Hochevar proves to me that this is for real and that he’s finally figured out how to be an effective starting pitcher, I’ll take this hot streak with a grain of salt.
Keep it up, Luke.
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).
- Bruce Chen: 6-6, 4.54 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.6 WAR
- Vin Mazzaro: 3-2, 5.14 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.0 WAR
- Luis Mendoza: 2-4, 4.95 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, -0.1 WAR
- Luke Hochevar: 4-7, 5.65 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, -0.3 WAR
- 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.
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
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Given the rainout last night, the Royals and Tigers will play just a two game series. The game will be made up on Sept. 24, a mutual off-day.
Duane Below will lose his start and will shift back to the bullpen for the series.
Tuesday @ 6:05 CT: KC Luke Hochevar vs. DET Rick Porcello
Wednesday @ 12:05 CT: KC Jonathan Sanchez vs. DET Justin Verlander
* * *
At 6-15, the Royals are tied with Minnesota for 4th place in the Central, but are only 5.5 games behind the 1st place Cleveland Indians (11-9).
Here’s a quick recap of what happened this weekend:
- Before Friday night’s game, the Royals swapped centerfielders with the Storm Chasers by re-calling Jarrod Dyson and optioning Jason Bourgeois. Given the unfortunate Lorenzo Cain injury news, Yost figured that the team needed an infusion of speed. Dyson figures to get most of the playing time in center while Cain recovers from his hip injury. Mitch Maier will move back into his normal role as the fourth outfielder.
- During the bottom of the 2nd inning on Friday, Alex Gordon robbed Danny Valencia of a lead-off HR. Despite his Gold Glove season in 2011, this was the first time Alex has taken a homerun away from anyone.“I’ve always wanted to rob a guy on a catch since I started playing in the outfield. That was my first one. Just brought it down and threw it back in. I acted like I’d done it before.” – Gordon told Bob Dutton of The Star.
- After giving up four runs in four innings in Friday’s 8-7 win over the Twins, spot-starter Everett Teaford was optioned back to Tripole A Omaha, while right-hander Nate Adcock was summoned up from the same club. The move was made, not because of Teaford’s performance, but because the Royals’ bullpen needed a healthy arm who could fill the long-releif role. Given that starters generally get four days off between starts, shifting Teaford back to the bullpen after he replaced Duffy in the rotation would have put the Royals at a disadvantage. Therefore, Adcock was brought up from Omaha. Nate had been solid in Omaha before his call-up, going 3-1 in four starts with a 1.37 ERA.
- The Royals and Twins were rained out on Saturday, causing the game to be rescheduled for Saturday June 30th at Target Field in Minnesota. It will be a day-night double-header.
- Bruce Chen got lit up for six runs in 2.2 innings yesterday in the Royals’ 7-4 loss to the Twins. He may have been the victim of the small strike zone set by home plate umpire Larry Vanover, forcing him to use more of his pitches out and over the plate.
- Nate Adcock took over for Bruce in the middle of the third inning and gave the team exactly what they needed: he went the rest of the way (5.1 innings), giving the rest of the bullpen another day off, and kept the Royals in the game by only giving up one run.
- Mike Moustakas (3) hit his third homerun of this season yesterday off of Minnesota’s starter Jason Marquis. Moose has been one of the team’s hottest hitters over the past week, seeing his batting average go from .229 on April 21 to where it stands now at .315. He’s 12-for-27 (.444) during that stretch with 5 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K.
- Billy Butler has been maybe just as hot as Moose. After going hitless in the four games against Toronto, Country Breakfast has been on a tear – going 10-for-23 (.435) in the Royals last five games with 3 HR, 7 RBI, and 4 R. He’s currently on a five-game hitting streak.
- Alex Gordon has been on fire lately as well. He’s 8 for his last 21 (.381) with 2 HR, 5 RBI, and 7 R.
- On the flip side, Eric Hosmer has seen his batting average drop below the Mendoza line (.188) and is hitless in his last 14 AB’s. He has no doubt seen a lot of hard luck this season, as many of the balls that he hit have just been at-him balls. Opposing infields have been putting shifts on when Hosmer steps in the box, forcing him to try to hit everything the other way, which is that much more difficult to do when you’re going through a slump.
- Hosmer and the Royals received a major scare last night when Hosmer took a Glen Perkins fastball off his right-hand when he check-swung at a pitch. He laid on the ground for a moment to collect himself before getting up and finishing the AB. Hos finished the game at first and didn’t show any signs of pain.
The Royals will travel to Detroit for a three-game series against the Tigers.
The Tigers (11-11) are in quite a funk right now, losing 8 of their last 10 games while being outscored 67-33.
They are also currenlty dealing with the Delmon Young hate crime issue.
The Tigers swept the Royals nearly two weeks ago in Kansas City, but they only outscored the Royals 10-6. The Royals had the tying and/or go ahead run on base in the bottom of the 9th in two of the three games.
Here are the matchups for the series:
Monday @ 6:05 CT: KC – Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98 ERA) vs. DET – Duane Below (2-0, 0.00 ERA)
Don’t let Duane Below’s numbers deceive you. He is making his first start of the season – in place of Doug Fister. He’s only appeared in 5 games this season for a total of 12 innings.
Tuesday @ 6:05 CT: KC – Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. DET Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.45 ERA)
Rick Porcello has combined for just 7.2 innings and has given up 17 hits and 14 runs (13 ER) in his last two starts.
Wednesday @ 12:05 CT: KC – Luis Mendoza (1-2, 6.00 ERA) vs. DET Justin Verlander (2-1, 2.45 ERA)
Verlander hasn’t gone less than 6.0 IP in any of his starts this year, is averaging nearly a K per inning (37.1 IP, 35 K) and has only surrendered 8 BB and 1 HBP. On the otherhand, he hasn’t trown less than 102 pitches in each of his 5 starts and is averaging 111 pitches per outing. Verlander has been in a bases-loaded situation only once this season, which was in the bottom of the 9th against the Royals. He struck out Alex Gordon with a 100 mph fastball at the knees. This guy is filthy.
The carbon dioxide levels in Kansas City reached dangerous levels last night after the Royals faithful let out its collective breath.
The Royals finally, finally, got their fourth win of the season the tune of 8-2.
The top four of the Kansas City lineup inflicted nearly all of the damage to the Tribe by going a combined 9-for-17 (.529) with 7 runs scored, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB and only 1 K. Here are the individual breakdowns:
1. Chris Getz: 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K
2. Alex Gordon: 3-5, 2 R, 1 HR (3), 3 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K
3. Billy Butler: 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR (4), 3 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K
4. Eric Hosmer: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR (5), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 0 K
Moustakas went 0-for-2 but worked 2 BBs and Alcides Escobar, who went 1-for-4 with a double, scored on Billy Butler’s 2nd HR of the night.
This was a great game all-around by the Royals, and it was a great way to bust out of their 12-game funk.
The Royals got out of the gate quickly against Ubaldo Jimenez thanks to the two-run HR in the 1st by Butler. Hosmer’s two-run opposite-filed bomb in the 5th moved the score to 4-0.
Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98 ERA) had a solid night as well, going 6.1 IP, giving up 4 hits, 2 ER, 4 K, and 3 BB, and looked nothing like he did the last time he faced the Indians. The Indians scored one in the 6th and one in the 7th off of Hoch, but a heads up play by Jeff Francoeur and the Royals’ defense in the 6th inning limited the damage to just one run.
Tommy Hottovy, who made his Royals debut after being called up from Omaha (taking the spot of Jeremy Jeffress) replaced Hoch in the 7th and earned his first hold of the season, giving up one hit and one run (charged to Hochevar). He also hit a batter (Casey Kotchman) and struck out Michael Brantley.
Aaron Crow replaced Hottovy to finish the 7th. He also threw the 8th, retiring the Indians in order – earning his third hold of 2012.
With the score at 4-2, the Royals offense went off in the top of the 8th by scoring 4 runs off of rookie Jairo Asencio. The first three runs came around to score on Gordon’s three-run shot to center. The Royals then went back-to-back when Billy Butler went yard, moving the score to 8-2.
Jose Mijares pitched a perfect 9th inning to closeout the victory.
The Royals were all smiles when they took the field for mandatory victory high-fives after the final out. Afterall, why wouldn’t they be?
The monkey is off their back, but now the real work has begun. One game doesn’t mean much right now to the 4-14 Royals who currently sit six games back of the Indians, White Sox, and Tigers.
The first step back into relevancy: win this Cleveland series.
It’ll be Luis Mendoza (0-2, 6.92 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (1-1, 4.86 ERA).
Speaking of Luis…
With Felipe Paulino scheduled to come off the DL any day now, Luis Mendoza’s days in the starting rotation may be numbered. Mendoza has really struggled this season after being arguably the league’s top pitcher during spring training. He will undoubtedly have to have a terrific performance today against Cleveland if he has any hopes of remaining a major league starter.
Cain’s Recovery Hits a Snag
Lorenzo Cain, who was excpected to come off the DL tomorrow, will have to wait to make his long-awaited return to the Royals lineup. During a re-hab assignment game with Double A NW Arkansas, Cain strained his left hip-flexor while going after a routine fly ball.
“We don’t think it’s a long-term thing,” Moore said, “but I think it’s going to be more than a few days.”
Duffy Will Miss His Next Start
With a sore left-elbow, the Royals are going to take the cautious route with Danny Duffy by skipping his spot in the rotation. The tightness Duffy is feeling is described as minor, so nobody needs to fret.
Lefty Everett Teaford is expected to get the start in Duffy’s place.