Tagged: Mike Moustakas

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.

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.

Royals News and Notes From the Weekend

*UPDATE*

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.

Alex Gordon robs Danny Valencia of a homerun. (Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

  • 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.

Eric Hosmer holds his hand after being hit by a Glen Perkins pitch in the eighth inning on April 29. (Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

Coming Up:

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.

Twelve Down, Two Goats, One Game

Now, like a lot of fans these days, let me go on the record: I am not a coaching basher – especially when it comes to baseball. Managers and their respective staff really effect only a handful of games a season. The rest is up to the team that they put on the field.

The Royals played hard last night, but once again came up just one run short in a 4-3 loss to the dreaded Cleveland Indians.

Mitch Maier hits an RBI double during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians. (Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

Mitch Maier was the player of the game, going 3-for-4 and driving in the Royals’ first 2 runs of the game. He also made a terrific running catch in the bottom of the 8th to rob Travis Hafner of an extra-base hit with the bases juiced.

The goat of the game?

Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez of the Kansas City Royals reacts after loading the bases during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

Was it Jonathan Sanchez? He lasted all of 4.2 innings, giving up 4 ER while throwing 115 pitches (59 balls to 56 strikes). Now he did manage 5 Ks, but he also tied a career high by walking 7. And on top of that, all 4 of the Indians runs were the products of a Sanchez walk: He hit Jason Kipnis in the 1st, who came around to score on a sac fly. He walked three straight in the 5th, all of whom scored on a Jack Hannahan double. But no, he wasn’t the goat.

Was it Alex Gordon? Alex had another 0-fer night, but he did manage one walk and zero strikeouts. But in the top of the 4th, with the one run already across the plate and the bases loaded, Alex grounded out to first basemen Casey Kotchman to end the threat. That out was definitely a rally-killer in what could have been a potentially huge inning for the Royals. A base hit would have scored two and put KC ahead 3-1 at the time. But, with all that said, Alex, too, was not the goat.

The goat, or should I say goats, of the game are…. (insert drumroll here)

Manager Ned Yost and Third Base Coach Eddie Rodriguez!

Ned Yost has begun to make me wonder exactly what his vision for this bullpen is. As he stated to begin the year, he expects this team to win. He won’t manage like he did last season when he let players like Escobar, Moustakas, Giavotella, Hochevar and Duffy take their lumps in order to build this team for the future. So, in essence, if a player is struggling (especially a pitcher), he needs to be removed from the game in order to give your team the best chance to win.

Well, Ned blew it. It’s no secret that Jonathan Sanchez is “effectively wild” – meaning that he will strike out his fair share of hitters, but he’ll also walk way more hitters than the average pitcher. This effective wildness will also drive up the pitcher’s pitch count in a hurry. Through his first 4 innings last night, Sanchez had hit a batter (which came around to score), struck out 4, walked 4, and given up 3 hits. He walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the 2nd before getting an infield fly and a 6-4-3 double-play to get himself out of the jam.

 

Yost had to know after that inning that Sanchez likely wasn’t going to be that lucky if he puts the team in that position again.

Sanchez started off the 5th by walking Asdrubal Cabrera on four straight pitches before getting his nemesis Shin-Soo Choo to strike out. He followed that up by walking Carlos Santana on a full count. The same went for Cleveland DH Travis Hafner. So there he stands with one out, bases loaded, and a tie ball game.

At this time, Sanchez was already right sround or over 100 pitches.

The next hitter, Shelley Duncan, skied a sac fly deep enough to center where Mitch’s only throw could have been to the cut-off man. Run scores, lead gone.

Now, it makes sense to me that if you have a pitcher who is clearly struggling with his command and has thrown 100+ pitches through 4.2 innings a change has to be made if you have any hope of walking away from the inning with just the one run given up.

But Ned decided against logic here by leaving Sanchez in the fire. And what happened? Jack “All-Up-In-Your-Face” Hannahan hit pitch no. 115 into center field for a two-run double. 4-1 Cleveland.

So then, after all the bad that could have happened did, Yost sauntered out to the mound to bring in Tim Collins.

The bullpen combined for 3.1 IP, 2 BB, 2 K, and 0 ER.

There are no ways of knowing if the runs would have scored if Ned had pulled Sanchez earlier – and hindsight is 20/10.

The other goat is third base coach Eddie Rodriguez.

For the recod, I’ve always been a fan of Easy Eddie. But last night, he made a very poor judgment call that cost the Royals a run – and perhaps the game.

In the top of the 8th, with one out, Hosmer on third and Moustakas on first, Mitch Maier roped a double down the right field line. Of course, Hosmer scored easily. Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo didn’t really seem to be hustling to the ball, which took a bounce of the concrete base of the wall. Moose was running hard and got to third just as Choo was in making his throw to the cut-off man.

Between the how hard the ball was hit, the lack of giddy-up by Choo, and the fact that Moustakas got a great read on contact, one could make the case that Moose could have made it home safely.

Keep in mind this team had lost 11 in a row at this point in time.

Eddie decided to play it safe, stopping Moose at third base. It definitely would have been a close play at the plate, but wih a team that has lost 11 straight games and has struggled immensely to score runs, you have to send the runner home in this situation. Have to.

With the score 4-2, and two-outs, Alcides Escobar hit a one-hopper back to the pitcher to end the inning – stranding Moustakas at third.

The Royals did manage to score a run in the 9th, but couldn’t muster anything more than the one run.

I’m not here calling for Eddie and Ned’s heads. And I know they take every loss just as personal as the players do, and Ned usually places the blame on his shoulders anyway (warranted or not).

But this loss truly belongs to the both of them. With a team riding a skid like this, they have to be making better team decisions than that.

Catcher Humberto Quintero reacts after being hit in the "groin" by a foul tip during the sixth against Cleveland.(Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

This loss really hurt.

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!

Royals Swept by Tribe, But May Have Found a True Rival

The Indians dominated the Royals’ first home series of the 2012 season, sweeping all three games of the series and outscoring KC 32-19. And with the exception of one game (game 2), it wasn’t even close.

Game Notes

  • Game One: Loss, 8-3 Cleveland
    • Jarrod Dyson starts in CF, leadoff spot. Frenchy batted in the second spot in the order, with Gordon moving down to the no. 5 spot.
    • Luke Hochevar surrenders 7 runs on 8 hits in the top of the 1st inning. He then settled down, allowing just one hit after the 1st.
      • Luke left the game after the 4th inning. He took a Carlos Santana line-drive off his left ankle. The ball hit his ankle so squarely that it ricocheted 90 degrees, right at first baseman Eric Hosmer – who picked it up for the out. Luke wasn’t able to put any pressure on his left ankle as he was helped off the field. Hoch has been listed as day-to-day, and will most likely miss his next start.
    • Everett Teaford pitched 4 scoreless innings after Hoch’s injury, giving up only 1 hit and striking out 3. He has the upper-hand when it comes to filling in for Hochevar while he’s recovering.
    • Kelvin Herrera hit 101 on the radar gun. He was able to balance that out with an 88 mph changeup. Closer material.
    • Jarrod Dyson made an awful read on Jason Kipnis’ 1st inning triple, chasing the ball over his back shoulder. With speed like his, getting burned like that is unacceptable.
    • Even though the Royals outhit the Indians 12-11, they grounded into 3 double plays.
  • Game Two: Loss, 11-9 Cleveland
    • Scoreless until the top of the 3rd:
      • After a run scored on a single by Asdrubal Cabrera, pitcher Jonathan Sanchez hit Shin-Soo Choo with a fastball in the back of the right leg. (Some history: in 2011, Sanchez hit Choo with a pitch that broke his thumb and wrecked his season). Unhappy, Choo turns around and starts barking at Sanchez, with Indians 3B Jack Hannahan rushing over to get in Sanchez’s face. Both benches and bullpens cleared, causing the umpire to issue warnings to both teams.
      • With Sanchez struggling with his command, the Tribe were able to post 5 runs that inning – causing Yost to go to his bullpen early for the second day in a row. Enter Tim Collins. Sanchez gave up 4 BB and 5 runs in 2.2 IP.
    • In the bottom of the 3rd…:
      • Indians hurler Jeanmar Gomez threw a first-pitch fastball inside to Moustakas, which he was able to evade. But the next pitch plunked Moose in his lower back, prompting the home plate umpire to eject Gomez from the game. Once again, the becnhes cleared and Jack Hannahan stuck his nose in the middle of it all by trying to get in Moustakas’ face before being detained by the umpires – and eventually Ned Yost. In all, three were ejected: Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez, 3B Jack Hannahan, and manager Manny Acta.

        Photo Credit: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

      • The Royals went on to score 2 runs in that half of the inning, which included a RBI triple by Alcides Escobar.
    • Cleveland was able to tag Tim Collins for two HRs in the 5th, moving the score to 9-2. That’s when KC started chipping away at the lead
      • Bottom 5: Moose doubles to deep right, Yuni scores. Alcides Escobar then drives in Moose with an infield out. 9-4.
      • Bottom 6: Billy hits a RBI double to left-center, driving in Frenchy. After a Gordon fly ball out, Yuni reached on a throwing error, moving Butler to third base. With two outs and two on, Moustakas hit a deep fly ball to right that was initially caught by Choo before he ran into the outfield wall, causing him to drop the ball. Billy scores third, Yuni (who should have scored from first since there were two outs) moved up to third. 9-6.
      • Bottom 7: With two down and Dyson on second, Eric Hosmer sends on to deep left that was about three feet from being a HR. He wound up with at second base with a RBI double. Billy drove in Hoz with a single to center. 9-8.
      • Bottom 8: After seing four straight fastballs from reliever Vinnie Pestano, Yuni sent a 2-2 slider down the left field line for a solo HR – tying the game at 9-9.
    • Cleveland didn’t score again until the top of the 10th, when facing Greg Holland, the now-extremely-hated-and-booed Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run double off the wall in deep center that just cleared the glove of Jarrod Dyson. 11-9.
    • The Royals went down in order in the bottom half of the inning. Game over.
    • All of the Royals hitters in the starting lineup except for Alex Gordon had at least one hit, with Butler, Yuni, and Moose each getting two apiece.
    • There were a total of 15 different pitchers used throughout the game (KC – 7, CLE – 8). Jonathan Sanchez threw 75 pitches through 2.2 innings. Only 38 of them were strikes.
    • Jarrod Dyson walked to leadoff the bottom of the 9th, which usually has been a good thing for the Royals. With one out, Dyson attempted to steal second base off of rookie Jairo Asencio – who has a relatively quick delivery to home. Dyson was thrown out by catcher Carlos Santana. Hosmer then struck out to end the inning.
      • The whole point of having speed is not to steal a base every time you get on, but to also use it to distract the opposing pitcher. Everyone at The K that night knew that Dyson was going to attempt to steal second at some point. It was just a matter of when.
    • Shin-Soo Choo later said that he regretted how things went down in the 3rd inning and acknowledged that Sanchez most likely didn’t throw at him intentionally.

In between games 2 and 3, the Royals re-called reliever Louis Coleman from Omaha and optioned Jarrod Dyson back to Omaha.

  • Game Three: Loss, 13-7 Cleveland
    • Facing off against Ubaldo Jimenez, KC was able to get their first lead of the entire series in the bottom of the 2nd.
      • Moose and Pena both reached to leadoff the inning. With one down, Moose on 3rd and Pena on 1st, Escobar doubled to drive in Moustakas and move Brayan to 3rd. With two outs, Chriz Getz hit a single to right field that scored both Pena and Escobar. 3-0 KC.
    • Cleveland retaliated, scoring 6 in the top of the 3rd against Royals starter Luis Mendoza. 6-3 CLE.
      • Mendoza went 4 innings, surrendering 9 runs (5 earned), walking 4.
    • Louis Coleman gave up back-to-back HRs in the 8th to Casey Kotchman and Jason Kipnis in his season debut.
    • Mitch Maier made his second career relief appearance in the 9th inning of last night’s game. He gave up a one-out single that was quickly erased by an inning-ending 4-6-3 double-play.

      Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Even though the Royals were swept by the Tribe, they may have gained something they have severely lacked since the 1980’s New York Yankees: a rival. If you watched the game on Saturday night, you saw the real anger between the two teams. Shin-Soo Choo has become public enemy no. 1 in Kansas City, and I’m sure Jack Hannahan isn’t too far behind him.

The Royals and Indians may even have bad blood that boiled over from last season when Carlos Carrasco threw a fastball over the head of Billy Butler, causing Carrasco to be ejected from the game.

At any rate, the Royals are now 3-6 on the young season and will begin a three game series against the division leading 6-3 Detroit Tigers tonight. It will tout Detroit’s ace Justin Verlander (0-1, 2.20 ERA) against the Royals’ young lefty Danny Duffy (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Here are the pitching match-ups for the three game series:

Monday: Justin Verlander vs. Danny Duffy

Tuesday: Drew Smyly (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (0-0, 1.64 ERA)

Wednesday: Max Scherzer (0-1, 10.38 ERA) vs. TBD (likely either Hochevar or Teaford)

All games begin at 7:10 pm CT.