Tagged: Toronto Blue Jays

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!

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Series Recap: Royals v. Tigers

The Royals, now losers of seven straight, are sitting at 3-9 after being swept at home in two consecutive series by Cleveland and Detroit. The series against the Tigers, even though it was still a sweep, was leaps and bounds better than the series against the Tribe. Each team recieved solid outings from their starter who were able to keep the games close throughout. The Tigers just have a knack for late-inning rallies, which were too much for the Royals to overcome.

Game One : 3-2 Detroit

  • Verlander vs. Duffy
    • It’s too bad that Danny Duffy was saddled with the loss, because before he left the game in the 7th, he was matching Justin Verlander pitch for pitch. Danny’s day ended after 6.2 innings, throwing 106 pitches (74 strikes), giving up only 3 runs while recording 7 K’s versus only 1 BB. For those in the know, Duffy is generally known for his high pitch-counts that usually warrant an exit after about 5 innings pitched. His pennence for throwing a lot of pitches usually comes from him getting in a lot of 3-2 counts, his ability to make hitters foul pitches off, and, of course, the dreaded walk. But Danny seems to have turned over a new leaf this season. He’s near the top of the league in K’s thus far with 15, and has only surrendered 5 BB.
    • Verlander went all 9 innings for Detroit, striking out 9 while walking 2, not including his Alcides Escobar HBP in the 9th. He threw 131 pitches, 85 of which were for strikes. He got himself into trouble in the bottom of the 9th and almost cost himself the win. He gave up 1 run, moving the score to 3-2. He then walked Mitch Maier and hit Escobar to load the bases. The next hitter, Alex Gordon, worked Verlander to a 3-2 count. But Verlander got Gordon to watch a 100 MPH fastball at the knees to end the game.
      • C’mon Alex… You have to be hacking in that situation. Inexcusable.

Game Two: 3-1 Detroit

  • Bruce Chen gave the Royals a great start as well, going 7 IP with 7 K’s, 0 BB, and 2 ER while throwing 108 pitches (78 S, 30 B). Once again, the Royals get a quality start, but still get the loss.
  • Billy Butler was the only Royal to get more than 1 hit on the night (he had 3 hits total).
  • The Tigers broke the 1-1 tie by scoring 2 runs in the top of the 8th inning on back-to-back RBI to center field singles by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
  • Royals pitchers combined for 10 K’s and 0 BB’s on the night.

Game Three: 4-3 Detroit

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

  • The Royals got their first lead of the series on a two-run shot to left by Alcides Escobar (1) in the bottom of the 3rd against Max Scherzer (2-1 KC). The Royals put another run on the board thanks to a RBI double by Humberto Quintero, building a 3-1 lead.
  • Jonathan Sanchez managed to last just 5 innings thanks to 97 pitches and 3 BB – one of which came around to score. He did manage to record 3 K while surrendering only 2 ER and 4 hits.
  • Top of the 7th Inning:
    • With the infield shift on and Gerald Laird on first base, Miguel Cabrera hit a ground ball right at where the second basemen would have been. Miggy successfully beat the shift for a base hit, in which Laird was able to advance to third.
    • Jose Mijares’ next pitch was a slider in the dirt that made it’s way passed Quintero. With Laird charging home, Quintero got a good bounce and was able to toss the ball back to Mijares at the plate but his throw was to the field side of home plate. The throw made Mijares reach across his body, away from the plate, to make the catch. Given the advantage, Laird was able to beat the play by a fraction of a second. Miggy moved up to second base as well. 3-3 game.
    • Prince Fielder became the second Tiger of the inning to beat the shift. With Alcides Escobar shifted over on the other side of second base, Prince delivered a single into center field that brought in Cabrera and gave the Detroit a 4-3 lead.
  • With runners on first and second in the bottom of the 9th, Alcides Escobar hit a sharp grounder down the third base line. With the Tigers playing a “no doubles” defense, Cabrera made the stop, stepped on third for the first out and tossed it to first to complete the double play. If Miggy doesn’t make this play, and with Jason Bourgeois on first, this could have easily ended the game in the Royals favor.

Series Noteworthies

  • With Yunieksy Betancourt batting 2nd last night, Ned Yost has now used six different hitters in the 2-spot of the lineup: Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Chris Getz, Jeff Francoeur, Jason Bourgeois, and Yuniesky Betancourt. Keep in mind, it’s still very, very early (we’re only 12 games in everybody…). Yost is trying to find out what lineup combination is going to work this season. He’s trying so many different hitters in the 2-spot because the Royals lack a true lead-off type hitter.
  • Billy Butler celebrated his 26th birthday last night by going 2-for-3. He extended his hitting streak to 8 games and has had multiple hits in 3 straight (and in 6 of his last 8).
  • The Tigers have had a knack for being better-late-than-never this season. In innings 1-6 this season, the Tigers have scored 32 runs. From the 7th inning on, they’ve put up 30 runs.

Benches Clear Again, Bullpeners Get In Their Cardio

Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel / AP

In the bottom of the 7th, Max Scherzer came up and in on leadoff-man Humberto Quintero. Scherzer’s pitch nailed Quintero on his left elbow, causing Quintero to slam his bat to the ground out of frustration. Well, apparently, Gerald Laird doesn’t like it when things fall too close to his toes, as he took great exception to Quintero. The two began jawing at each other, causing both benches and bullpens to spill out onto the field.

In the end, no punches were thrown, no pushes were made, and nobody was tossed.

Quintero said after the game, “I didn’t get mad because I got hit; I got mad because it hurt a little bit — that’s why I threw the bat. This is part of the game. We’ve known each other for a long time, so we both apologized. It’s nothing personal. Everything is cool; it’s not a big deal.”

Both Laird and Quintero said they spoke with one another after the incident, stating there was no bad blood between the two.

“I don’t like to have the bat thrown down at my feet like that,” Laird said. “We talked about it, and it’s fine.”

Speaking of Benches…

Major League Baseball has handed down a 5-game suspension to Indians pitcher Jeanmar Gomez for beaning Mike Moustakas on Saturday. The incident lead to the second-bench clearing of the game. The shoving match between the two teams lead to the ejections of Gomez, third basemen Jack Hannahan, and manager Manny Acta. Both Gomez and Acta were fined undisclosed amounts, while Hannahan was fined $500 for his involvement.

Indians closer Chris Perez also received a fine, but for his involvement in the brawl (I use that term loosely here), but for a tweet he sent out after the game that night.

MLB said that the closer’s tweet “crossed the line, and fined Perez $750.

The Royals and Indians have to see each other 15 more times this season, and I doubt the Royals are going to let Cleveland get in the last punch…or push.

Coming Up

   

Toronto Blue Jays (6-6) @ Kansas City Royals (3-9)

The Royals will look to end their 10-game home stand on a positive note when they face-off for four games against Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie and the Toronto Blue Jays.

The starters for the series are as follows:

  • Friday, April 20: TOR Kyle Drabek (2-0, 1.42 ERA) vs. KC Luke Hochevar (1-1, 7.84 ERA) @ 7:10 pm
  • Saturday, April 21: TOR Drew Hutchison (0-0, 0.00 ERA) @ vs. KC Luis Mendoza (0-2, 5.59 ERA) @ 6:10 pm
  • Sunday, April 22: TOR Ricky Romero (2-0, 3.72 ERA) vs. KC Danny Duffy (1-1, 2.13 ERA) @ 1:10 pm
  • Monday, April 23: TOR Brandon Morrow (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (0-1, 2.00 ERA) @ 7:10 pm

Entering the series, the Blue Jays are 6-6 and currently in fourth place in the AL East, but are only 1.5 games behind the first-place Orioles.

The Royals, now 3-9, are in last place in the AL Central and are 6 games back of the Tigers.

Trade Spec: Soria to Toronto (Initial Post)

Word around the web is that the Royals are possibly talking about a deal that would send closer Joakim Soria to the Blue Jays for either Travis d’Arnaud and/or a #1 starter, which has reportedly hit a snag.  Let me explain to you one of the ways this could make any sense for KC:

Blue Jays get: Joakim Soria CL

Royals get: James Shields RHP

Rays get: Travis d’Arnaud C, Clint Robinson 1B, Christian Colon 2B/SS, Cheslor Cuthbert 3B

OR

Blue Jays get: Joakim Soria CL

Royals get: Travis d’Arnaud C, Kyle Drabek RHP

A straight-up trade sending Soria to Toronto for d’Arnaud would be just ridiculous.  While having young catching depth within the system would provide insurance incase this whole Salvador Perez experiment doesn’t work out (sarcasm), it just doesn’t make sense unless another piece is sent to KC in return.

We’ve been hearing rumors all off-season about how the Royals would be more than happy to take James Shields off the Rays hands, and this might be a fairly logical way of doing so.

In my first scenario, the Jays would get the proven, All-Star caliber  closer they need in that division in Soria.  The Royals would get the #1 starter in Shields they have desperately been seeking since the days of Saberhagen and Appier.  The Rays would gain not one..not two.. but three young players who could step potentially quickly into their big league lineup and a young power hitter with a high, high ceiling.  Robinson would finally get his shot since he would be blocked by absolutely nobody in Tampa, Colon would be a welcome addition at either position in an abysmal middle infield, Cuthbert would provide them with a young, top-tier prospect at either 3b, 1B, or corner OF position, and  d’Arnaud would give the Rays another option incase Robinson Chirinos doesn’t pan out.

The second scenario seems likely as well.  The Jays would be selling low on the former top prospect, yet still very young promising starter Kyle Drabek.  He had a rough go-around last season, starting only 14 games and surrendering more BB’s than K’s (55-51).  But there is a reason the Jays wanted to hold onto him last year when the Royals were shopping Greinke.  The potential is there.

I’m not saying either one of these scenarios have a snowball’s chance of happening.  But hey, it’s fun to talk about and a good way to kick-off the blog’s first post!