Monday, May 24, 2004

The little things and chemistry

For the past two days, the Royals have battled the Oakland A’s and actually looked like they belonged on the same field. Good starting pitching. Good bull pen work. And a confidence that seems to have been building brought us into Oakland on a high note.

The problem is, we continue to fail when it comes to doing the small things. Berroa boots a ball hit right to him in the 9th inning on Saturday, Chavez blasts a two run shot, and didn’t you just know that we were going to lose after that? Yesterday, we failed to turn two at a crucial moment, a little dinker falls in—we lose, again.
All year long, we’ve been a team that doesn’t do the small things well. We aren’t moving runners over. We are swinging at first pitches way too often, making ourselves susceptible to guys who can change speeds well and we’ve certainly seen enough of that in recent weeks.

I’ve heard fans point to a lack of chemistry on this year’s team since we brought in some new faces as the reason we are so bad. That may be partially right. But what does chemistry have to do with being patient at the plate and waiting for a pitch you can handle so you can slap it to the right side of the infield to move a guy over? What does chemistry have to do with staying down on a ball at short to make sure you’ve got the ball securely in your glove? What does chemistry have to do with a lack of hustle?

Maybe it’s got everything to do with it. Maybe one bad trait builds on another and before you know it, the entire ball club is in a funk. Even if that’s true, that is still no excuse for playing the way we have. Each man is responsible for his own actions and effort on the field.

If chemistry could be created, every team would do it. But not every team that wins has chemistry. Did anybody really say that the Florida Marlins had chemistry last year BEFORE they won the World Series?
Now, if our fans are really trying to be nice when they point to our lack of chemistry when what they really want to say that we have guys on our team that don’t seem to care whether we win or lose, then I’d say to stop trying to be so nice. We don’t need to call guys names or spew hateful words. But simply pointing out a lack of hustle and/or apparent desire to win is probably in order.

Friday, May 21, 2004

The Royals never had a chance

I thought we were going to be no-hit tonight after the sixth inning was over. It sounds crazy to say, but Mulder didn't even look all that sharp tonight. He hit three guys and at times didn't seem to have good control. But, like last weekend, he changed speeds so well that our guys looked lost at the plate.

Brian Anderson got shelled for 5 earned runs in 3 innings, but to be honest he pitched even worse than the numbers indicate. I think it's time to get him out of the rotation and put him in middle relief. The problem is, our bull pen is pitching so well right now that we don't really need him there. They only gave up one run in the five innings they pitched.

The line up that Pena put on the field tonight had little chance to beat Mulder. Brandon Berger is up from Wichita and he started in left field. He made a nice catch out there—which was odd to see from one of our left fielders. But his .214 lifetime batting average is hardly impressive.

Kelly Stinnett started in place of Benito Santiago. Why do that when the line up is already a little weak? It's Tony Pena. Who knows? Frankly, I think I'd rather have Stinnett in the line up anyway. Santiago seems unable to block balls that are right in front of him and he is definitely afraid to stand his ground in front of the dish.

Mendy Lopez started at second. I realize that Graf is still out, but Relaford was available. Why does Desi
need a day off when our line up is already weak? Who knows? I doubt that Pena could even give a coherent answer.

Like the Saturday game in Yankee stadium earlier this year, we knew we were going to lose this game before it started—so Pena just figured he'd throw the B-line up in. Sickening if you ask me.

I can't wait to see what happens with Greinke's debut tomorrow at Oakland. I read today that the Royals are trying to get permission to broadcast the game on RSTN, but it sounds like it is up to FOX because of the rules laid out in an agreement between them and MLB for Saturday afternoon games. Hopefully this one ends up on RSTN. I'd love to watch it.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Give 'em five

Rangers 6 Royals 3
W-Rogers (6-2), May (1-6), S-Cordero (13)
Royals Season Record: 12-25

Giving up 5 runs in one inning will usually do a team in. That's what happened tonight in the 2nd inning. Coming off a fantastic start against Oakland last Saturday night, May looked bad tonight getting pitches out over the plate like he did with the count 0-2 to Blalock that he promptly parked in the seats behind the right field wall.

Our bull pen was lights out again tonight. They pitched the final four innings of the game, giving up zero runs, 4 hits and 3 bases on balls. Nate Field dropped his ERA to 1.76 and looks very capable, along with Huisman, to close games.

Beltran was 1 for 5 tonight and never looked comfortable. In the past six games he is 4 for 25 and at times looks lost. He is way too good for that to continue though. Hopefully he breaks out of his slump in Oakland. We are going to need somebody who can get on base against that staff. Last weekend, we had 14 total hits in the three game series.

Tomorrow night in Oakland, we've got Anderson (1-5, 6.97 ERA) going up against Mulder (4-2, 3.45 ERA). No matter how you slice that match up, it doesn't look good for us. But games are not won or lost based on how the pitching match up looks before the game begins. And we've got Saturday to look forward to. Greinke gets his first start!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Bullpen shuts the door

Royals 5 Rangers 3
W-Gobble (2-2), L-Park (2-4), S-Huisman (1)
Royals Season Record: 13-24

Don’t look now, but here comes our pitching. Gobble, who has been our best starting pitcher this season so far, gave up 3 runs in 6 1/3 innings and our revamped bullpen shut the door. Justin Huisman continues to impress, pitching the final two innings and only allowing one base runner to pick up his first save of the season. His ERA is still 0.00.

Chan Ho Park was wild, giving up 4 BBs and hitting three of our guys. We were up 2-1 in the 7th inning when Park hit Sweeney. It was nice to see Juan Gonzalez make him pay by hitting a three run jack. Ken Harvey hit his 4th HR of the season and Angel Berroa hit his 2nd.

We are a long way from turning this season around, but it happens one game at a time and with a mini winning streak going, we’re doing what we need to do. And help is on the way. Zack Greinke is going to make his major league debut this Saturday in Oakland. If you can’t get excited about watching that one, then something is wrong.

Greinke isn’t the only starting pitcher that we ought to be noticing in Omaha. Jamie Wright is 6-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 8 starts. And Chris George is 1-2 with a 1.98 ERA in 5 starts. It’s getting harder to ignore them. It’s a good feeling to know that we have a few options now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Going deep

Royals 7 Rangers 6
W-Sullivan (3-0), L-Dickey (4-3), S-Field (1)
Royals Season Record: 12-24

We knew that we were going to win some games this year by bashing the ball out of the park. Home runs from Matt Stairs, Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney carried the day and we won this one.

I don't know why we can't seem to score any other way than the long ball, but for now, I'm just thrilled to start this road trip with a victory. Especially after being behind 5-0 after the fourth inning.

On a down note, Desi Relaford appears to have re-aggravated his hamstring again on a play that looked a lot like the play he got hurt on opening day. Graffanino can't get back soon enough.

Jeremy Affeldt was not on tonight. He gave up 7 hits, 3 earned runs, and 3 walks in just 4 innings. The bullpen picked him up though and we hit just enough dingers to win the game.

Nice way to start the road trip.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Oakland series photos

Beautiful Kauffman Stadium before the game against Oakland on Saturday, May 15th:


Joe Randa in action against Oakland on Sunday, May 16th:


Another day, another loss

A's 6 Royals 2
W-Zito (3-3), L-Anderson (1-5)
Royals Season Record: 11-24

Zito didn't look sharp and Anderson was keeping the ball down. Everything looked good, but watching this one, I had the feeling that we were going to need more than just the two runs Randa drove in with his triple in the first inning. But after six innings, Anderson still held a 2-1 lead. An Oakland rally in the seventh changed all that, giving them a 4-2 lead.

Grimsley gave up a double in relief of Anderson, but he got out of the inning. Leskanic pitched impressively in the eight, giving up no hits or runs and for the ninth, Pena curiously brought in Shawn Camp. With a fresh bullpen, why he brought in Camp instead of Huisman, Field, or Cerda—all of whom are supposed to be in during the late innings according to Pena, I have no idea.

Erubiel Durazo smashed a home run to center field and I'm looking out at the bullpen. Nobody was up. Damian Miller walks—still nobody up. As Bobby Crosby steps to the plate, we finally had some action—way, way, way too late. Crosby ripped a ball down the left field line and then after Camp finally gets an out, Pena brought in Cerda. He gave up a sacrifice fly to score another run and then gets out of the inning. But with the score 6-2, it might as well have been 60-2.

But with two outs in our half of the ninth, Berroa singled. At that point, I'm thinking, "If Pena doesn't hit for buck-forty-three-man Adrian Brown I'm going to scream." Juan Gonzalez unexplainedly had the day off. Why exactly does a guy need a day off this early in the season when he isn't nursing an injury and the following day is an off day? Again, with Pena, who knows?

Rather than wake Gonzalez from his sleep on the bench, Pena lets overmatched Adrian Brown face Arthur Rhodes and yes, I screamed. I honestly don't think Pena is fit to manage a baseball team—at any level. I know he won manager of the year last year, but the Royals won in spite of him.

How does he expect fans to "believe" when it seems like he doesn't? Why not pinch hit for Brown—in fact, what in the world is Brown doing in the major leagues anyway? Let alone, starting two games in a row in left field.

And if Aaron Guiel has been dealing with vision problems and not just sitting in Pena's doghouse, then why wait until now to put him on the DL? He was taking up a roster spot when we desperately needed help in the outfield.

Now we have brought up Wilton Gurrero who was hitting .311 in Omaha. He's the brother of Vladimir. Let's hope he hits like him.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

A fun one to watch

A's 3 Royals 1
W-Mulder (4-2), L-May (1-5)
Royals Season Record: 11-23

This was baseball the way it is supposed to be played. Fantastic pitching, good defense and some good offense. As I left the game tonight, I didn't feel bitter about this loss. I felt like I watched a game that way it was supposed to be played.

It wasn't full of inflated offense or strikes zones so small that a pitcher couldn't possibly hit it. I thought the strike zone tonight was a bit generous, but I'd rather have that than watch 12-10 games every night.

Mulder only gave up four hits and he changed speeds so well that Royal hitters seemed to have no idea what he was going to throw next. At one point, Mulder threw a 73 mph change to Sweeney followed by a 93 mph fast ball over the inside corner. Good luck hitting a guy who has the ability to do that.

To his credit, May pitched brilliantly. He gave up a two run shot to Chavez, but the pitch was down and away—not even in the strike zone, but Chavez went down and got it and knocked it out.

Both starting pitchers went the distance. When was the last time you witnessed that? I don't think I ever have.
As usual, I questioned Pena's choice of personnel. He gave Adrian Brown (up from Omaha) the start in left field. Brown had no business stepping up to the plate. He was overmatched and confused. Pena left him in late in the game, instead of bringing in Guiel or Stairs. Yes, Guiel and Starts are both lefties and would have a tough time with Mulder, but they've got a better chance of getting a hit than Brown. I can't wait to see what B-level line up Pena puts on the field tomorrow.

Tomorrow we've got Anderson (1-4, 7.15 ERA) going against Zito (2-3, 6.00 ERA). Both pitchers are pitching poorly right now. Let's hope that Anderson was watching the game tonight and comes out throwing strikes down in the zone.

Go blue.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Too much Hudson

A's 6 Royals 2
W-Hudson (4-1), L-Gobble (1-2)
Royals Season Record: 11-22

Jimmy Gobble gave up four runs in the first inning and that was all Tim Hudson needed to win this one. To his credit, Gobble bounced back and pitched decent after the first inning, but we just could not get back in this one.

Justin Huisman continues to impress out of the pen—pitching 1 1/3 innings and giving up no runs or hits and keeping his ERA at 0.00. It looks like he may get a shot a closing a game soon. He's accustomed to closing, he had 79 saves in the past three seasons while pitching in the minors for the Rockies.

Harvey made a nice stab at first and a nice pick up. I like the combo of Harvey playing first and Sweeney DH'ing. I don't think Harvey is top notch defensively, but he's adequate.

Berroa continues to struggle at the plate. His average is now .195. It's odd that Pena would choose him for the lead off spot given his average, but Pena doesn't exactly manage in the traditional sense, so who knows what's going through his mind.

Matt Stairs had three more hits and is making it more and more difficult to take him out of the line up. I still think Guiel is too good to sit on the bench, but one of them has to. Unless of course we sat Juan Gonzalez and I'm thinking that Baird didn't sign him just so he could sit on the bench.

Next up is Mulder (3-2, 3.91 ERA) vs. May (1-4, 6.40).

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Sweeney, Sweeney, Sweeney

Royals 4 Blue Jays 3
W-Field (2-0), L-Adams (3-2)
Royals Season Record: 11-21

What a game! Beyond the excitement of the final play, look at the final score. Our pitching staff held the Blue Jays to 3 runs. It almost feels like a shut out, doesn’t it?

Affeldt’s ERA is now 4.89 and he seems to be on track. He’d look better in the closers role, but there’s no doubt that he can start as well. Have you noticed Grimsley’s ERA? After not giving up any runs in this game, his ERA has dropped to 3.07. Field continues to look good, pitching the final two innings for the victory and lowering his ERA to 1.98. Great job guys.

As for the rally—don’t you just get the feeling that Sweeney is always going to come through in situations where the game is on the line in the ninth inning? I was in the stadium last year as he did it in the bottom of the ninth against the Giants and before he blasted that hit up the middle, I just knew he was going to get a hit.

Makes you wonder why managers pitch to him with the game on the line. Especially yesterday. Why not walk Sweeney in that situation? I know that it would have moved Beltran to second with Relaford at third, so walking Sweeney would have put the winning run in scoring position, but let’s be honest—as a Royals fan, who would you rather see at the plate with the game on the line—Mike Sweeney or Juan Gonzalez?

What are the chances of Gonzalez getting a hit and driving in both runners in scoring position versus Sweeney ripping one down the line and scoring both runners even though they both were not in scoring position? If I was Toronto manager Carlos Toscathe in that same situation, I would have bet the house on Gonzalez popping up weakly and leaving both runners high and dry.

Thankfully he chose to go after Sweeney and Mike did what he does in clutch situations. He won the game. That’s two in a row for the first time since early April. We’ve got today off before opening the Oakland series at home on Friday night. Gobble goes up against Hudson. Both are having good years, so it should be a fun game to watch. Go Blue!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

MacDougal sent down

The Royals sent MacDougal and DeJesus to Omaha today.

DeJesus wasn't a big surprise. He's the heir apparent to Beltran, which means he needs to be playing every day. That's not going to happen for him in Kansas City as long as Beltran is around, so Omaha is a better place for him to be. And his one hit in 23 AB's hardly impressed anybody. Hitting .043 isn't going to get it done at any level. Let's hope he gets his swing squared away in Omaha and that he is ready the next time we bring him up.

I was surprised that MacDougal got sent down. His 10.80 ERA over 5 games is awful and he is certainly as wild as ever, but I was still surprised by the move. The bullpen has been turned upside down with guys like Leskanic and MacDougal struggling and pitching in blow outs and guys like Camp getting a shot later in games. A little shake up is probably a good thing at this point. Here's hoping that Mac gets his groove back and comes back to KC in good form.

Just what the doctor ordered

Royals 5 Blue Jays 1
W-Camp (2-0), L-Halladay (3-4)
Royals Season Record: 10-21

We've asked quite a bit from Dennys Reyes this season. He's gone from a spot starter to a regular spot starter—if there is such a thing. Frankly, up until tonight, his starts have been sub-par. But tonight, he put it all together and pitched into the 6th inning before leaving with the score tied at one. And who can argue with his 3.22 ERA?

Shawn Camp continued his impressive season, pitching the final 3 1/3 innings for the win. What a nice and much welcomed surprise Camp has been. His 3.22 ERA looks like gold after all the pitching problems we've had this season.

I'm not sure why, but Pena gave Randa another night off, but during batting practice, Mendy Lopez fouled a ball off his leg and Randa ended up making the start at 3rd. He made a great diving play early in the game and drove in one run.

Kelly Stinnett played in this 8th game of the year and he got another hit tonight raising his average to .375 and extending his hitting streak to 8 games. That's right, he's got at least one hit in every game he's played in this year—including the towering shot he hit off the coke bottle over the green monster in Boston last weekend as a pinch hitter.

Sweeney played the field for the first time in a while. He drove in 2 runs with a double in the 7th inning. He looks like the Sweeney of old. His average is a little lower than I'd like to see (.274), but he now has 24 RBIs and he's certainly getting around on balls—unlike last season after he returned to the line up after his back injury.

Beltran was Beltran tonight. He drove in his 27th run of the season, stole his 10th base and he even had a sacrifice fly. The guy can do it all. I get sick every time I think about the possibility of him putting on the pin stripes.

Tomorrow afternoon, we've got Jeremy Affeldt (0-3, 5.06 ERA) going up against Ted Lilly (2-2, 5.05 ERA). Let's put two wins together guys. Go blue.

And the beat(ing) goes on

Blue Jays 9 Royals 3
W-Hentgen (2-2), L-Anderson (1-4)
Royals Season Record: 9-21

For the second time in a week, an ailing Pat Hentgen beat the Royals. He was given six runs of support in the first inning as the Jay sent eleven guys to the plate. Surprisingly, Joe Randa committed his fifth error of the year already on the first hitter of the game.

Not so surprising was Brian Anderson giving up six hits in the first inning. Anderson continues to get pummeled and his ERA is now a bloated 7.15. How long can we keep sending him out there with such bad numbers? It’s anybody’s guess.

Necessity rules the day for now, but even necessity would seem to have its limits. Chris George was sent down in the middle of the season last year after winning nine games with an ERA over 7.00. Of course, we went out and got Jose Lima, Paul Abbott and Kevin Appier (towards the end of the year) to bolster the staff.

With a team ERA of 5.54 (second worst in the AL, only to the Tigers) and the batting average against them being .297 (the worst in the AL), it is obvious that our current group of guys are not getting it done. We can only hope that Baird finds another jewel in the rough like Lima in the independent leagues or that a couple of our guys from Omaha can make a difference.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Savoring victory

Royals 8 Red Sox 3
W-May (1-4), L-Lowe (3-3)
Royals Season Record: 9-20

After giving the game away on Friday night and getting shut down by Curt Schilling yesterday, we’ve got to savor this victory today. It would have been easy to pack it in and pretend this road trip never existed. But getting this one against the Red Sox had to make the flight home a little more enjoyable.
Darrell May battled through a cold and picked up his first victory of the year.

And the offense finally showed up. Beltran had two doubles and 4 RBI’s. Sweeney was 2 for 2 with 2 RBI’s and 3 intentional walks.

Way to go guys. Now let’s get the first one at home tomorrow against Toronto.


If you’ve been waiting for the promised interviews to be posted, they are coming. I’ve been buried in work and the interviews I did with Randa and Huisman are part of that work. So, I’m still working on transcribing the tapes and putting the material together. Come back again soon and they’ll be here.

Regarding the photos I planned to post, I was unable to take any while in the press box last week. I will be at the Oakland series coming up next weekend and will get some photos then.

Tip your cap and move on

Red Sox 9 Royals 1
W-Schilling (4-2), L-Gobble (1-1)
Royals Season Record: 8-20

I doubt if anybody expected Jimmy Gobble to match Curt Schilling pitch for pitch today. We just hoped that he could keep us in the came and that a miracle would occur. Gobble was holding up his end of the bargain when Juan Gonzalez misplayed another ball in the outfield, allowing Pokey Reese to get an inside the park home run—giving the Sox the lead at 2-1 in the fifth.

We can point to one missed opportunity that could have changed the game. In the third inning, Harvey and Santiago both singled to open the inning. Relaford laid down a fantastic sacrifice bunt and we had two runners in scoring position with one out and Berroa at the plate in a scoreless game. The key to getting to any great pitcher like Schilling is get to them early or you probably won’t get to them at all.

Berroa flew out to Kapler in right field. He didn’t get the ball deep enough to score Harvey. Harvey made Kapler throw the ball and he air mailed it over the head of Varitek—the ball landed right in the glove of Schilling who was exactly where he was supposed to be—backing up the play. Beltran popped out. Inning over. Rally over. Game still tied at zero.

The Sox exploded for five runs in the sixth and Schilling put it into cruise control. These types of games are going to happen. Great pitchers are tough to beat and when we had a chance to get to him early, we failed. As disappointing as that is, let’s just tip our cap to Schilling and look forward to tomorrow when May goes up against Lowe.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

The nightmare continues

Red Sox 7 Royals 6
W-Timlin (2-1) L-MacDougal (0-1)
Royals Season Record: 8-19

I keep expecting Alice Cooper to walk on to the field after a loss like this one and say, "Welcome to my nightmare." We could breathe a sigh of relief and get back to reality. The reality that says this team is more talented than last season—even though their record is flip-flopped from last season.

Affeldt looked tough again, but he ran out of steam late in the game. Grimsley did a good job in relief. Then MacDougal got squeezed with Damon at the plate. He should have had strike three, but instead Damon walked. Bellhorn drilled a HR and the game was tied. Sullivan got squeezed a couple of times before Varitek hit a ball down the first base line in the bottom of the ninth.

With Manny Ramirez lugging around from first base, he decided to try to score. The camera zoomed to Juan Gonzalez who seemed to be thinking more about getting back to the hotel than about sticking around for extra innings. He gingerly approached the ball in the corner and by the time he got there, it was too late. He hit Relaford, who fired the ball home to just barely miss throwing Ramirez out—who didn't even slide.

Royals lose. Again. A lot could be said about what the Royals did wrong last night. Santiago letting another ball go between his legs early in the game. Gonzalez's nonchalant attitude. The Royals failure to capitalize on Wakefield who struggled early.

I keep waiting for somebody to throw a water cooler or slam a glove into dugout. Anything to show that we care. One thing I don't want to see is Pena's goofy smile. Enough of that already. A good attitude only goes so far. It matters, but too much of it feels syrupy. Too fake. Too sickening.

I should say that I'm not a Tony Pena fan. I never have been. Give me Tony Muser any day over Tony Pena. Players don't need to be coddled. They need to be managed. When guys are not playing hard, they need to be removed from the line up, not patted on the back.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Never in it

Blue Jays 10 Royals 3
W-Halladay (3-3), L-Anderson (1-3)
Royals Season Record: 8-18

Three more errors—two by pitchers. Why can’t our pitchers throw the ball to first base? Why didn’t they master this in spring training? Both Anderson and Reyes made bad throws to first base. Anderson’s set the tone for the game, allowing a hitter to not only reach base early in the game, but to make it all the way to third on his bad throw. Angel Berroa bobbled a ball and picked up another error as well.

Beyond the bad defense was another bad pitching performance. This time by Brian Anderson. He is our number one starter and his ERA is still over 7.00 on May 6th. He could not get the ball down in the zone and one Blue Jay hitter after another smashed base hits. I know Pena doesn’t have a lot of options with our pitching staff, but I kept wondering when he was going to yank Anderson.

After giving up 7 runs (not all earned) in the first two innings, why leave him in? He obviously didn't have good stuff. Why let the game get away from us so early before doing something about it? Or at least trying to do something about it?

On a positive note—yes, I’m still looking for positive things to say—has anybody noticed that Mac’s ERA is still 0.00? I know he’s been wild and given up a hit or two, but it is encouraging to see that he hasn’t given up any earned runs after several outings. As for why Pena put him in to a 10-3 game, I have no idea.

And what about Matt Stairs? He’s hitting .300 with 4 HRS and 12 RBIs. At this point in the season, he looks better than Juan Gonzalez does. And I bet that Halladay would tell you that Stairs’ bat isn’t nearly as slow. In the sixth inning, Stairs got around on a ball and crushed it off the facing of the second deck located OVER the restaurant.

Ken Harvey had two more hits, raising his average to .361. Say what you want about Harvey’s huge swing and slow speed, it’s hard to argue with an average that high—even this early in the season.

Today is an off day. That’s probably a good thing. Our guys are on the way to Boston where Affeldt (0-3, 5.10 ERA) will take on Wakefield (2-1, 2.25 ERA) on Friday night. Affeldt’s ERA is 2.66 in his last three starts. Let’s hope that is a trend. Go Blue.

Trouble with Triple-A stuff

Blue Jays 5 Royals 4
W-Hentgen (1-2), L-May (0-4), Frasor (1)
Royals Season Record: 8-17

Doesn’t this season already feel like it is several months old? Losing has a way of making a season drag.
Darrell May returned to the mound after missing a start and gave up five earned runs in seven innings. The Blue Jays exploded on May for four runs in the second inning. Our guys didn’t give up though, posting our own four spot in the top of the fifth. Unfortunately, the Jays scored their fifth run in the bottom of the fourth and that was all they would need to beat us.

The KC Star reported the Pat Hentgen’s fastball was so slow that Toronto officials decided not to post the radar readings on the scoreboard. They also reported that one player said, “He had Triple-A stuff. Maybe Double-A stuff. And what did we do?”

Good question. What is going on with our offense that we can't pummel a guy with a bad hip who throws 87-88 with no movement? Scoring four runs off of him in five innings is good. But if he really head minor league stuff, we should be able to knock the stuffing out of him.

If there is a positive note, in the seven total hits we had in the game, two came from a slumping Berroa who raised his average to .212 and two came from Gonzalez whose bat still looks slow.

Brian Anderson goes against Roy Halladay tonight. Let’s hope the offense is a little sharper and let’s hope that Anderson can get his ERA under 6.00.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Guiel saves the day

Royals 3 Blue Jays 2
W-Field (1-0), L-Adams (2-1), S-Cerda (1)
Royals Season Record: 8 Wins, 16 Loses

Jimmy Gobble looked almost unhittable tonight and he was through the first five and a third innings. He took a shutout into the ninth inning. With two outs, Carlos Delgado doubled and I thought Gobble was gone. But to his credit, after a mound visit, Pena left him in the game.

Josh Phelps singled and the score was 2-1. Pena gave Gobble the hook and brought in MacDougal. It's hard to argue with Pena about that move. I would still rather see Gobble given the chance to win or lose the game, but if Pena thought Gobble had lost it, then he made the right call.

Eric Hinske promptly singled off MacDougal and all of a sudden, the Blue Jays had runners at the corners. MacDougal walked Catalonotto next to load the bases. Then, as if my nerves weren't already shot, MacDougal walked Orlando Hudson to tie the game. I couldn't believe it. It was happening again.

Pena actually had somebody warming up behind MacDougal this time and he brought in Nate Field. Field got Gregg Zaun to ground out to Harvey and we still had hope.

What a beautiful sight it was to see Aaron Guiel's solo shot in the top of the tenth. Royals win! And Jaime Cerda gets his first save of the season. Thankfully somebody in our bullpen can close out a ball game.

There was one moment that I loved in this game. After Gobble gave up the double to Delgado, he slammed his hand in his glove and looked toward the dugout. He knew he was about to get the hook and his brief spurt of emotion was nice to see.

As Royal "fans" bail out on them, it would be easy for the players to stop caring. Thankfully it hasn't happened. Hopefully it doesn't.

Stop the bleeding

Yankees 4 Royals 2
W-Mussina (2-4), L-Affeldt (0-3), Rivera (9)
Royals Season Record: 7 Wins, 16 Loses

Jeremy Affeldt’s outing wasn’t the lights out type of pitching I was hoping for, but he did hold the evil Yankees to four runs in six and a third, once again giving the Royals a chance to win. And once again, they fell short.

Mussina was wild, getting the ball up in the zone and the offense just could not capitalize. The Royals jumped out to an early lead, but Mussina eventually settled down and we missed another opportunity to win a ball game.

It’s on to Toronto. Jimmy Gobble goes up against Justin Miller. Gobble’s 2.82 ERA is by far the lowest of any other starter on the team and at this point, he’s the closest thing we have to a stopper. So stop the bleeding Jimmy. Please.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Playing dead

Yankees 12 Royals 4
W-Lieber (1-0), L-Villacis (0-1)
Royals Season Record: 7 Wins, 15 Loses

I know we have a difficult schedule in May. The evil Yankees, the Red Sox, the A’s twice, the Twinkies and even the surging Rangers mean that we are going to have to play well to break even for the month. And let’s be honest, if we go 13-14, it’ll feel like we won the World Series.

Okay, so we have a tough stretch of games coming up. Do the Royals give up? The organization would say “absolutely not.” Their actions today say otherwise. We brought Eduardo Villacis up from Wichita to start in Yankee Stadium today. Yes it was an emergency situation and yes, we’ve been anticipating a move for a couple of days. But Villacis? From AA?

Since Greinke is a no-no, why not Chris George or Kris Wilson from Omaha? They both have big league experience at least. By bringing Villacis up, we offered him up as the sacrifical lamb. Oh, and the lamb was on a seventy five pitch limit. I propose a new uniform for our pitching staff. How about a big blue diaper? That’s how we treat them. We act like a young guy is incapable of throwing one hundred pitches without his arm falling off. Come on. These guys are young. Let them pitch.

If the evil Yankees didn’t already know that we had no intention of trying to win today, Pena gives Lopez the start over Randa at third. I’m a Lopez fan, in spite of his sub .100 batting average this year. He is a good utility player and has a great attitude. Be he’s no Randa. Why wouldn’t we put the best line up we have on the field against the evil Yankees? Especially since Berrora and Gonzalez were both back and in the line up today? It’s May 1st. How many days off do our guys need?

Predictably, Villacis gave up five runs in three and a third and the game was over before it began. Especially with Lieber looking like the Lieber of old on the mound against us today.

Tomorrow, we have Affeldt going against Mussina. Mussina is struggling and Affeldt looks to be turning things around. Let’s hope we can get at least one out of three in New York.

Uggggh, it's the Yankees

Yankees 5 Royals 2
W-Vazquez (3-2), L-Anderson (1-2), S-Rivera (8)
Royals Season Record: 7 Wins, 14 Loses

The Yankees sicken me. Everything about them. Their ridiculous payroll. That stupid NY insignia. Their rude fans. Their arrogance. Their short porch in right field. Their pride (C’mon Jeter, you can’t possibly think you ought to be playing short instead of A-Rod). The announcer who says “Yankees Win! Yankees Win! Yaaaaaaaaaaaankeees Win!” Mike Mussina’s irritating dip-see-do motion from the stretch. Don Zimmer (yes, I know he’s gone, but not forgotten). Roger Clemens (ditto).

For those reasons, and many more, they will always be known as the evil Yankees on this blog. I always look forward to playing these guys. But given the way we have been playing lately, this probably isn’t the best time.

Brian Anderson didn’t have his best outing of the year. He walked seven guys in seven innings, giving up five earned runs. “I walked more guys tonight,” he said, “than I walked during my junior year in college. That tells you enough.”

Fair enough. He had a bad night. But listen to this, “When you're facing an All-Star lineup like that, you just can't throw one in there for the sake of throwing a strike. Because it can get whacked a long way and a lot of bad things happen.”

Can’t a lot of bad things happen if you walk seven guys? Give me a good old fashioned butt kickin’ any day over walking guys.

The offense was equally as bad against Vazquez. We only managed to get three hits off of him in eight innings. We can’t expect to beat anybody doing that.

Juan Gonzalez missed yet another game—presumably from the same flu that kept him out of the previous three games. DeJesus played in this place going 0 for 3, dropping his season average to .063. Hardly impressive for the heir-apparent to Beltran.

A bad day all the way around.
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