Saturday, April 30, 2005

It's Finally Over

As relieved as Tony Pena and Allard Baird surely were to see Ken Harvey turn on a pitch in the third inning and plant it in the left field seats for a grand slam home run, I can't help but wonder if they also thought, "Uh oh. Maybe we should have had Harvey in the line up from day one."

Last weekend, I heard the post game show guys discussing the Harvey situation. One of them wondered whether the Royals buried Harvey in Triple-A rather than putting him on the 25-man roster because of Harvey's arbitration status. I have no idea if that idea has any merit, but if Baird pushed for such a thing, he's going to lose respect. I hope it isn't true.

The game this afternoon looked a lot like many other Royals games this season. The Royals loaded the bases in the first inning and failed to score. That goes beyond the "they just can't get a timely hit" criticism to a team who just doesn't execute well.

But in the third inning, the Royals loaded the bases again against Cliff Lee and Mr. April, Ken Harvey, looked the part, slamming his first career grand slam home run. Harvey is on fire right now, picking up hits in his first three at bats this afternoon.

Eli Marrero looked like he knew which pitch was coming every time he came up to the plate. He hit two home runs and picked up another hit to raise his average over the Mendoza line. Angel Berroa had a big day at the plate, matching Marrero's and Harvey's three hits.

Bautista struggled at times, but managed to get through the sixth inning only giving up one run. Sisco pitched a scoreless seventh, even though Angel Berroa let a ball go right through the wickets. Jaime Cerda got in trouble in the eighth inning, giving up a hit and walking two guys to load the bases. How a guy can walk one hitter, let alone two, with an 8-1 lead in the eighth inning is beyond me. But he reached back and struck out Sizemore to end the inning without giving up any runs. MacDougal finished off the Indians in the ninth.

And the losing streak was finally over. How good does that feel? The Royals finished April with a 6-18 record. Now let's see if the Royals can extend their winning ways to what would be their longest winning streak of the season—two games.

Jose Lima (0-2, 6.08) goes against Scott Elarton (0-1, 8.05) tomorrow afternoon. RSTN isn't carrying the game.

Royals Flat, Drop Ninth Straight

The losing streak reached nine games last night and rather than following their normal relatively silent locker room routine following a loss, the guys cranked the stereo hoping to trick themselves into thinking that everything is okay.

As a writer, I've tried this trick a few times myself. As someone who makes a living from my writing, I don't have the liberty to only write when the muse strikes. I have to write every day whether I feel like it or not. On the days when I'm writing about things that don't exactly thrill me, I just open my word processing program and say to myself, "Just write the lead, and come up with a transition so I can work on the body of the article later." I did this the other day and ended up writing for over two hours on a project—making good progress on it.

This nine game Royals skid ties their fourth longest in club history. They couldn't blame this one on bad breaks though. Greinke seemed to be in love with his big arching curve ball. He threw it repeatedly and the Indians started looking for it. When he did go to the fastball it didn't have much pace or any movement.

Pena called it a "batting-practice" fastball.

“I wasn't trying to throw batting-practice fastballs,” Greinke said in typical Greinke fashion, “but that's what they were. Usually when I throw them, it's because I'm trying to throw them. Today, they were just coming out like batting-practice fastballs.”

I'm trying to figure out when Zack would intentionally throw batting-practice fastballs, but trying to figure out Zack is like trying to figure out the Patriot Act. Not possible.

Sabathia pitched well and shut the Royals out for seven innings and the Royals only managed 3 hits for the entire game.

Kyle Snyder pitched well in relief: 3 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB. I'm wondering if Kyle is going to get a shot in the rotation soon. We're a month into the season and some of the starter's ERAs are awful.

We've got Denny Bautista (1-1, 5.33) going against Cliff Lee (2-0, 3.12) in Cleveland this afternoon.

Friday, April 29, 2005

A Pattern

Anybody noticing a pattern yet? The Royals fall behind early, battle back, and then lose at the end. This time they lost 6-5 in eleven innings to the Twins.

This is already starting to look like a long season and we're not even out of April yet. As a fan, I'm frustrated with the lead off walks, the poor fielding, the lack of fundamentals, and many of Pena's unorthodox decisions. But at the same time, I feel for the players. No doubt, good teams take advantage of teams who are not fundamentally sound, but our guys are still battling even though they appear to be overmatched and under-prepared.

Last season, I was in the locker room in late April to interview Joe Randa for a national sports magazine. Tension was already high among the players because they'd lost so many games. A few guys were doing things to try to liven things up—Jason Grimsley rode a motor scooter (that sounded a lot like a chain saw) around the club house. That brought a few smiles. And for some unknown reason, Curtis Leskanic slapped me on the butt when he walked by me. Yes, I checked to see if he strategically placed a "kick me" note on my backside, but he didn't.

Beyond a few funny tactics, I got the feeling that the players were already feeling the weight of expectations. They had just come off the first winning season in nearly a decade and the people of Kansas City expected (or at least optimistically hoped) for more of the same. Not necessarily division titles, just .500 or slightly better. Summers are so much more fun during pennant chases.

Part of being a fan though, is sticking with your team when things aren't going well. I do think it's legit to abandon a team when or if a team owner and his GM clearly show that they do not care about the product. We can't say that about Glass and Baird. We can disagree about personnel decisions. I certainly have. One of which is sticking with Tony Pena. Nice guy. Bad manager. But Glass and Baird are concerned about the product on the field. They've moved high profile players whose star had risen for prospects that almost everyone in baseball praised. Unfortunately, none of those prospects (with the possible exception of Berroa—who has never lived up to his rookie season) are producing yet.

We won't be in a pennant run this summer, but let's stick with the team and see what happens. Let's watch Buck, Teahen, and Gotay to see if they develop. Let's enjoy watching David DeJesus roaming center field in Carlos Beltran-like fashion. Let's marvel at Zack Greinke. And let's keep it all in perspective. Bad baseball is better than no baseball.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Harvey Called Up

Ken Harvey went from a guy who didn't make the 25-man roster as the Royals broke camp in Surprize, Ariz. to a guy who Pena inserted into the clean up spot on the day he was called up to the majors just three and half weeks into the season. I've been expecting this for the past ten days and given the Royals inability to score runs, I can't imagine what took them so long to bring Harvey up.

Not surprisingly, Harvey was tearing up the PCL with a .375 average (27-72) in 18 games, with 3 HR and 14 RBI. He hit safely in 16 of his 18 games—including 11 straight.

The Royals sent Shawn Camp to Omaha before the game today to make the roster spot available for Harvey.

Losing Streak Reaches Seven

As the consecutive loses pile up, it would be easy for the team to give up. I've certainly seen signs of some guys who do not appear to be giving it their all, but five of the seven games that the Royals have lost during this streak have been by one run. That's not the sign of a team who is giving up. It's the sign of a team who can't take advantage of mistakes and opportunities granted by opponents. And it's a sign of a team who can't get the big hit when they need it.

In the game against the Twins yesterdays, the Royals were down 4-1 going in to the sixth inning. When Gotay's two-run shot in the sixth brought the game even at four, you had to feel for the players. Here was a team who had lost six games in a row, almost all of them by a 1-run margin, and this one looked like it might get out of hand early, but they fought back…and then fell short.

Brian Anderson walked Michael Cuddyer to start the seventh and you just had a feeling that he would score. Nick Punto singled and Pena brought Shawn Camp into the game. His first pitch hit Shannon Stewart to load the bases and then Camp buried a pitch allowing Cuddyer to score from third. Camp got a pitch up to Jason Bartlett and Bartlett hit the ball to right field where Terrence Long made a great diving effort, but couldn't come up it—a bases clearing triple and this one was history.

One base on balls, one hit batter, and one buried pitch set the stage for a loss and the Twins were happy to act the part of winners.

This afternoon, we've got Runelvys Hernandez (1-2, 4.62) going against Kyle Lohse (1-2, 6.62). Let's hope we can at least win one on getaway day. The Royals go to Cleveland to open a new series against the Tribe on Friday.

Exclusive Interviews

I'll be in the Royals locker room covering the Royals for a couple of newspapers in the Midwest on May 12 and 13. I'll post excerpts from some of the interviews as soon as I get a chance. If you can think of any questions that you would like me to ask, leave them in the comments section. Please only leave serious and respectful questions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Losing Streak Hits Six

Tony had the guys out early today working on fundamentals. April 26th and our guys are still working on covering first base and hitting cut off guys. I can't believe that it's necessary, but it is obviously is, so I'm glad to see it.

The KC Royals official game notes has had a rather unbelievable statistic on the first page for the past couple of weeks: "PENA APPROACHING 200: Tony Pena is in his 4th season as Royals manager and is approaching his 200th career victory…he is 195-274 since taking over the Royals…with 5 more wins he will become the 8th Royals manager with 200 victories."

What the game notes don't say is—Tony Pena has the worst career winning percentage of any manager in Royals history. Yes, even worse than Tony Muser—whom I believe was a far better manager than Tony Pena.

Jose Lima struggled though the first inning tonight, giving up 1 run, but after that his change was nearly unhittable. He kept the ball down and his change had all sorts of life and that set up his fast ball nicely.

Johan Santana on the other hand didn't look sharp, but his numbers were impressive. He missed badly with a number of pitches early and the Royals were unable to take advantage until the fifth inning when Matt Diaz muscled one down the right field line and drove in Terrence Long to tie the game at 1-1.

Diaz made two critical mistakes on Saturday (missing a cut off man that cost the Royals a run, and getting thrown out at home after a pitch got away from the catcher), but one thing impresses me about him. He hustles. In the game on Sunday against the Sox, he hit a routine grounder to second but he ran hard down the line. The second baseman bobbled the ball and Diaz beat the throw. Tonight, Diaz hit a chopper to third, ran hard and forced a bad throw. I don't know if he'll be able to hit major league pitching, but I love his hustle.

Oh yeah…after Lima pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up 1 ER, it wasn't enough to win the game and the Royals lost again to make it 6 in a row.

Tomorrow night Brian Anderson (1-1, 7.02) goes against Joe Mays (0-0, 3.21).

Monday, April 25, 2005

Disastrous Season

On Saturday night, I had great seats for the game against the White Sox. Five rows up, directly behind home plate. Here's a photo of Zack Greinke delivering a pitch to Carl Everett.

Greinke's stuff was nasty. Looping curve balls, biting sliders, and well placed fast balls. He's already starting to mature. Last season, he challenged guys too often and paid for it by giving up too many long balls. He's learning when to challenge guys and when not to. He ended the night with 7 innings pitched, 1 ER, and 7 K. Well deserving of a win. But that assumes that the Royals scored and that's quite an assumption with this line up. He left the game losing 2-1 and you know the rest of the story. The Royals lost in extra innings.

On Sunday, the Royals lost their fifth game in a row. Bautista pitched well after a shaky first inning, giving up just 2 ER, and 2 H in 7 innings. The bullpen let this one get away and the Royals dropped to a major league worst 5-14.

We knew that this team would have problems scoring runs. Besides Sweeney and Stairs, they don't have any pop in their line up. The line up had a lot of question marks going into the season: Teahen, Berroa, Gotay, Buck, and Pickering. Not one of the question marks is contributing at the plate right now. Teahen got hurt after a horrible start and is due back soon. Berroa is hitting .230 and is still a free swinger. Gotay is hitting .241 and looks overmatched—he struck out four times on Sunday. Buck is hitting .189—enough said. And the Calvin Pickering experience didn't work. He's already back in Omaha.

We hoped that the rotation was going to be much improved over last season. Runelvys Hernandez was back. Jose Lima was resigned. And Denny Bautista looked to be the real deal. Here are the starters stats so far:

Lima: 0-2, 8.05
Hernandez: 1-3, 4.62
Greinke: 0-1, 2.66
Anderson: 1-1, 7.02
Bautista: 1-1, 5.32

As bad as Lima, Anderson, and Bautista have been, all three of them have shown stretches of quality major league pitching. But I'm not going to push that too far given their inflated ERAs. I feel good about this rotation and time will tell whether Mike Wood, Kyle Snyder, or Jimmy Gobble needs another look if one of the other guys can't get the job done.

I had relatively high hopes for the bullpen, but with Affeldt already on the DL and Mike MacDougal (3.86 ERA) being unable to get outs when he needs them, this bullpen looks to be in huge trouble with the exception of Andy Sisco who has a 1.29 ERA, here are the rest of the ERAs in the pen:

Mike Wood: 4.85
Shawn Camp: 9.45
Nate Field: 9.45…and recently shipped to Omaha
Kyle Snyder: 4.15
Jaime Cerda: 12.27

That's just not going to get the job done.

As bad as this team looks and as overmatched as they appear to be, Allard Baird and Tony Pena are ultimately responsible for the product on the field. Greinke and DeJesus came through our system and they are producing. But so many of the other young guys that Baird drafted, traded for, or signed aren't even close to contributing.

And no matter how overmatched these guys may be right now, that is no excuse for not playing fundamental baseball. From missed cut off attempts, to botched picked off plays, to a manager who calls for sacrifice bunts and squeeze plays in the craziest of situations, this has all the makings of a disastrous season.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Eight Games Out Already?

This could be the longest season in Royals history. It's April 22nd and with the 8-2 loss at home against the White Sox tonight they are already eight games back. That almost doesn't seem possible. How can a team be eight games out of first after only seventeen games?

Beyond a number of already questionable managerial decisions, the Royals have major problems and there don't appear to be any fixes on the horizon. They are playing less than average defense. They haven't hit well. With a few exceptions, the starting pitchers have struggled—in seventeen games, they have only five quality starts, none of which have come from Jose Lima, the number one starter.

This is a young team that is going to make mistakes. We can all accept that. But the nonchalant attitudes are something we can't accept. We don't want to see flippant throws to first base. We don't want to see guys not running hard. And we don't want to see smiles after errors. At least I don't.

This isn't to take anything from the White Sox. They are in first place in the Central and they look like they deserve to be there. But the Royals line score tonight is unacceptable: 2 runs, 4 hits, 2 errors. They won't win many games posting numbers like this.

One thing I am happy about though—we don't hear the cheesy "believe" slogan on the radio. I don't even think Tony Pena believes any more.

The Royals declared that the Calvin Pickering experiment failed by sending him to Omaha and purchasing the contract of OF Matt Diaz who was hitting .373, 4 HR, 13 RBI in the PCL. How we are going to find time for another OF on the roster (he's number six) is anybody's guess.

The Royals moved Scott Sullivan to the 60-day DL.

Tomorrow night, Zack Greinke (0-1, 3.38) goes against Jose Contreras (0-0, 3.63). Let's hope that the Royals score more than their average 1.7 rpm when Greinke pitches this year.

I probably won't post again until Monday. I'm traveling to Kansas City tomorrow to catch the remaining games against the White Sox this weekend. I'll try to take photos and post them here next week.

Twins Find a Way to Win

As hard as the Royals fought, they came up one short in Minnesota yesterday afternoon and lost 10-9 in the tenth inning. Watching them fight through mistakes was encouraging and frustrating at the same time.

One particular moment in the game is really difficult to understand. In the top of the sixth inning, the score was 8-8. Gotay is at third with one out and Graffanino is at the plate. The Twins brought their infield in to cut down Gotay at home. And Tony Pena calls for a suicide squeeze. Graffanino failed to make contact and Gotay was hung out to dry.

What made Pena believe that one more run would win a game after 16 runs had already been scored in the first five innings? I would understand it if it were the eighth or nine inning, but the sixth? Why not just let Graff hit away? He faced a drawn in infield and he can handle the bat. The pitch he couldn't get the bat on during the squeeze play looked like a slider or a cutter that was down and away.

Bringing in MacDougal for the ninth was the right decision though. The Royals were up 9-8 at the time and Mac is the closer for now. But he walked Torii Hunter on four straight pitches. That just can't be allowed to happen. To make matter worse, Mac tossed the ball into center field when he should have easily thrown Hunter out at second after he took off from first prematurely. And like good teams do, the Twins found a way to get Hunter home to tie the game.

Brian Anderson gave up 10 hits and 7 ER in 3 innings of work.

"I don't think he pitched that bad," Pena said. "They had a lot of cheap hits and we didn't play real well behind him."

As much as I'd like to, it's hard to argue with Pena on either count.

Wood and Sisco were outstanding in relief--combining for 5 shut out innings and only giving up 1 hit and 1 BB.

  • John Buck went 4-for-5 and hit his first HR of the year…
  • Mike Sweeney went 3-for-5 and raised his average to .343…
  • Emil Brown went 2-for-4 and hit his 3rd HR of the year…

The Royals return home for a series against the White Sox this weekend. Runelvys Hernandez (1-2, 4.19) goes against Freddy Garcia (1-1, 3.43) tonight. RSTN is carrying the game.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Error Costs Royals the Game

Neither starter looked sharp tonight. Santana started off well, retiring the first eight guys he faced, but the Royals had successive singles from McEwing, DeJesus, and Graffanino before Mike Sweeney crushed a slider that was right down main street to give the Royals a 4-3 lead after three innings.

The Twins were all over Lima early. He threw a change off the plate to Joe Mauer in the first inning and Mauer hit a line shot the other way over the left field wall. In the second inning, Jacque Jones annihilated a ball over the right field baggie. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Royals stormed back and took the lead on Sweeney's 3-run shot.

The Twins got a run in the middle innings to tie it and the scored stayed that way until the eighth with Joe McEwing made a poor throw to first that Marrero couldn't scoop. And as usually happens, the guy who took second on the error ended up scoring to put the Twins up 5-4. The Royals went quietly in the over.

Anybody else missing Joe Randa as much as I am?


  • McEwing was 2-for-3…
  • Sweeney as 1-for-4 with a three run HR…

Tomorrow night Brian Anderson (1-1, 3.95) goes against Dave Gassner (1-0, 1.50).

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Castillo Blast Wins it in the 9th

What a game for Alberto Castillo. From the 9 hole, Castillo went 3-for-4 and hit a HR with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth off Arthur Rhodes to win the game 6-5. That raises Castillo's average to .364 and it raises the Royals record to 5-9 (the same record they had after 14 games last season). Oddly, the Royals are 3-0 this season when Castillo has started behind the plate.

The Royals weren't the only team who piled up the hits this afternoon. Denny Bautista had another bad outing—giving up 11 hits and 5 ER in 5 1/3 innings. The Indians had all the chances in the world to win this one, but Sisco, Snyder, Cerda, and MacDougal came up big and didn't allow any runs in the final four innings.

Kyle Snyder saw his first major league action since 2003. He missed the entire 2004 season after surgery to fix his torn labrum in his right shoulder. Snyder picked up where he left on in the spring where he posted a 1-0 record and a 1.32 ERA in 13 2/3 innings. He pitched 1 1/3 innings this afternoon and gave up 1 hit, 2 BB, and 0 ER.


  • Castillo went 3-for-4, hitting the game winning HR…and he even stole a base…
  • DeJesus was 2-for-4…
  • Sweeney was 3-for-4…
  • Long was 2-for-4…
  • McEwing was 2-for-5…
  • Mike MacDougal picked up the win…

Royals on the DL:

  • Scott Sullivan / 15-day / back strain
  • Chris Truby / 15-day / fractured left wrist
  • Mark Teahen / 15-day / lower back strain
  • Jeremy Affeldt / 15-day / left groin strain

The Royals fly to Minnesota tonight. Lima (0-2, 8.56) will take on Santana (3-0, 4.00) tomorrow night on the front end of a quick two game series. The Royals return home after Thursdays game to open a weekend series against the White Sox.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Royals Lose Third Straight

Zack Greinke fell victim to the long ball tonight and the Royals lost again to drop to 1 and 6 on the current homestand. Casey Blake and Ben Broussard went back to back in the second inning and that was all the Indians needed. The Royals only managed 3 hits.

Looking at the line up tonight left me scratching my head. Hitting behind Sweeney was Eli Marrero with an average below .150 and then John Buck whose average is even lower. Why would any manager pitch to Mike Sweeney when the guys behind him aren't hitting?

And in another odd move, Pena brought in Mike MacDougal to pitch the ninth inning with the Royals down 5-1. If the guy needs a little work, then why not let him throw in the bullpen? The Royals don't have any off days this week and one would think that MacDougal will need to come in with the game on the line in one of those games. Hopefully, it's not tomorrow. He did only throw 10 pitches, so maybe he could be used if needed.

Ruben Gotay made a great play tonight by going to his right and flipping a ball with his glove hand to Angel Berroa who was moving towards first base. Berroa caught the ball barehanded and threw the runner out at first. The play made webgems on Baseball Tonight, but what they didn't show was the error that Gotay made.

I have mixed emotions about the webgem segment on Baseball Tonight. I'm all for showing spectacular defensive plays and home runs…but why doesn't a number two hitter who slapped a ball to the right side to advance a runner ever get any credit? I know it isn't as sexy, but I'd love to see these plays on Baseball Tonight on a segment they could call "Doing the Little Things." Little things win games more often than flashy plays.

Tomorrow afternoon at 1:10, Denny Bautista (1-1, 5.56) goes against Scott Elarton (0-0, 6.30).

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Last Place Yankees

However short lived it may be--how much fun is it to see the Yankees at 4-8 and in last place in the AL East? And to see Steinbrenner ripping on the Yankees makes it even more sweet:

"It is unbelievable to me that the highest-paid team in baseball would start the season in such a deep funk," Steinbrenner said after todays loss. "They are not playing like true Yankees. They have the talent to win and they are not winning. I expect Joe Torre, his complete coaching staff and the team to turn this around."

My only question for George is--who exactly is a true Yankee? The guys they've outbid other teams for or the guys they have brought up through their system? Since their farm system is pathetic, I'm guessing he's talking about the best team that money can buy...

Royals Manage Only 5 Hits

Runelvys Hernandez reportedly wants to be the stopper. He's going to have to pitch better than he did today if he's going to earn that title. He gave up 10 hits, 4 ER, and 2 BB in 5 innings of work and the Royals lost 6-1.

While Hernandez struggled on the mound, Mike Maroth made sure the Royals struggled at the plate. They only managed 5 hits—one of which was Eli Marrero's first home run of the season. In the 1 through 4 holes in the top of the line up, we were 1-for-15. That type of production isn't going to win many ball games.

I'm having a difficult time believing that Detroit and Seattle pitchers are this good. We're making guys with average stuff look dominate. What's going to happen when we run into the Cardinals and Yankees next month?

  • Andy Sisco had another good outing, giving up only 1 hit and 0 ER in two innings of work…
  • Marrero was 2-for-4 with a HR…
  • Nate Field gave up another run in 1 inning of work…his ERA is now 10.50…

Tomorrow night, Zack Grienke (0-0, 0.00 ERA) goes against Cliff Lee (0-0, 8.10) as the Royals open a new series at home against the Indians.

Royals Win a Thriller; Then Fizzle

The Royals won a thriller on Friday night against the Tigers. After giving up five runs in the first inning, Jose Lima settled down and didn't allow any runs over the next five innings.

David DeJesus and Angel Berroa led a comeback that was capped off by Berroa's two run shot off Ugueth Urbina in the eighth inning.

Mike MacDougal picked up his first save of the season.

On Saturday, Jeremy Bonderman shut the Royals down again for the second time this season and the Royals lost 7-1.

Brian Anderson pitched well again, giving up 3 runs in 7 2/3 innings, but not well enough to win. The only offense that the Royals managed to generate was a home run from Mike Sweeney, his first of the season.

Jeremy Affeldt has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left groin muscle. Mike MacDougal will take over the closer role until Affeldt comes back. Kyle Snyder was called up from Omaha to fill Affeldt's roster spot. Snyder was 0-0 in Omaha with a 1.17 ERA in 3 games.

  • The Royals are just 1-4 on their first homestand of the season…
  • The Royals are hitting just .230 with 12 runs scored during the current homestand…
  • The pitching staff hasn't been much better; posting a 6.40 ERA with 18 walks and 22 strikeouts…the bullpen has an unbelievable 9.22 ERA…
  • On Friday, Calvin Pickering and his wife, Jessica, had their first child—Jacob Elijah Pickering…congrats!

Runelvys Hernandez (1-1, 3.14) goes against Mike Maroth (0-1, 7.27) this afternoon.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Royals Swept at Home

The Mariners swept the Royals in Kauffman Stadium. Not a great start to the home stand. Especially since we lost two of those games by 6 or more runs.

As dominate as Bautista was against the Angels his last time out, who would have expected the shellacking he got last night? He gave up 6 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. What is even more curious is the fact that he seemed to change game plans after shutting the Mariners down in the first inning.

"After the first inning, he changed his style," Pena said. "In the first inning, he was aggressive with his (four-seam) fastball. It seemed like they didn't want any part of him. Then he went out and threw more breaking balls."

Pena elaborated: "He felt he didn't have a feel for the (two-seam) fastball. Then when he started throwing the fastball (again), he was pitching behind in the count."

Pena said that he told Bautista to throw the four-seamer, and Buck said that he kept calling for four-seamers, but Bautista did what he wanted to do. Assuming that all of this is true, I don't understand how a manager could allow a guy to go against the stated game plan and not do anything about it. By the time Pena yanked him, it was 4-2 Mariners and they had two more runners on base.

Mike Wood allowed both inherited runners to score and he gave up 4 more runs before he was done for the day.

On a positive note, Andy Sisco pitched 3 scoreless innings in relief, allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, and striking out 4. For a guy who has never appeared above Class A ball before this year, he could be quite a steal as a Rule 5 guy.

  • DeJesus picked up 3 more hits and is now hitting .306…
  • Sweeney had 2 more hits and is hitting .359…but oddly he doesn't have any home runs yet…
  • Joe McEwing made his first start at third base and went 2-for-4…but I doubt if he's going to make us forget Joe Randa…
  • For the second straight game, the attendance was around the paltry 10,000 mark…
Jose Lima (0-2, 10.80) goes against Wilfredo Ledezma (1-0, 1.50) of the Tigers tonight. We need Lima to get things turned around. He's our number one guy and this team is in dire need of a stopper right now. Lima is 84-84 in 314 career games (including 201 starts). So the pressure is on to stay over .500.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Another Mariners Pitching Gem

Listening to the end of todays game was difficult. After Zack Greinke threw 86 pitches (54 for strikes) and shut out the Mariners for 6 innings, Tony Pena removed him from the game. I didn't have a big disagreement with Pena's decision. Zack was on an 85-90 pitch count--probably because of his recent injury--so I wasn't surprised when he was lifted. In hindsight, even Zack agreed with the move:

"I think it was a really good idea. I mean, my arm felt fine but when he said, 'You're done,' I was like, 'Yeah, I should be,'" Greinke said. "Even though I felt good, it made total sense."

While Greinke was busy shutting down the Mariners, the Royals were busy making Aaron Sele look like Cy Young. So after 6 innings, neither team had scored. Enter Jaime Cerda, who allowed two base runners before Pena decided to make another move. With guys at second and third and one out, I was thinking, "Please, please, please don't bring in the wild thing. The last thing we need is for MacDougal to bury a pitch and allow one or both of these runners to score without putting the ball in play."

Of course, Tony Pena brought in MacDougal, and sure enough, he buried a pitch and the runner from third scored. Then MacDougal gave up a hit, so both runs scored. That's all the Mariners needed because the Royals could only manage one run. We dropped this one 2-1 and fell to 3-5 on the season.

Before the game today, the Royals placed Mark Teahen on the 15 day DL and purchased the contract of Joe McEwing to fill Teahen's spot. McEwing is 32 and was signed by the Royals as a minor league free agent on March 22. He'd been with the Mets since 2000. He has a .253 career average and has played every infield position as well as a little outfield.

Game notes:
  • After going 0-3, John Buck is hitting an anemic .120 for the season…
  • The Royals only managed 4 hits today…
  • The bullpen has a 6.66 ERA…
  • Starters have a 2.91 ERA…

Tomorrow afternoon Denny Bautista (1-0, 1.13) goes up against Jamie Moyer (1-0, 2.45). Let's hope that our guys actually find a way to score a few runs tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Franklin Shuts Down the Royals

Runelvys Hernandez didn't pitch poorly this afternoon in front of 41,788 people--the largest opening day crowd ever at Kauffman Stadium--but Ryan Franklin pitched far better. Franklin only threw 83 pitches (64 of which were strikes) in 8 2/3 innings. He got ahead of nearly every hitter, and he went right after guys. No nibbling. That used to be the standard by which major league pitchers worked. When you see it today, it looks odd.

Kevin Appier threw out the first pitch. I wish he were still on the team, but it's hard to justify keeping a roster spot open for him if Baird really believes that he isn't one of the five best starting pitchers on staff.

"It was great to hear the Kauffman Stadium crowd one last time," Appier said. "It was bittersweet. It was an honor and nice to (throw out the first pitch), but it was a bummer not to do it in a game."

It was a bummer for us too Kevin. Thanks for playing hard for us every time out. You were a blast to watch and your legacy in Royals history is secure. We won't forget you.

Here are a few brief notes about the game today:
  • Sweeney picked up two more hits and is now hitting .367…
  • Terrence Long was back in the line up and his charlie horse is healed up…
  • Mark Teahen has a stiff back and missed another game…Graffanino took his spot in the line up…

Zack Greinke (0-0, 0.00) goes against Aaron Sele (0-0, 6.35) on Wednesday afternoon. Let's hope that Zack can come back strong from his injury.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ruben's Redemption

Ruben Gotay must have read my last post. Okay, that's a joke, but somebody lit a fire under him today. He hit a two run shot in the second inning and picked up three more hits on the day to go 4-5 with 3 RBI. He redeemed himself from yesterdays blunder.

How about BA? He wound up giving up 3 earned runs in 6 innings and at times he seemed to be back to old form. Today we got our first look at Anderson's new delivery. Guy Hansen changed Anderson's motion during spring training. Anderson ended up with a fatigued arm during the spring and saw limited action. I'm guessing that he was on a pretty tight pitch count today because he ended up throwing only 82 pitches.

"Yeah, it felt good, like the pitches had some late life on them and, for the most part, it was keeping my pitches down," Anderson said after the game. "I want to continue to build on it."

Sweeney continued his hot streak, going 3-4 with 2 more RBI. And somehow he stole second base with Jake Woods on the mound…a left handed reliever…I'm still trying to figure that one out.

The Royals posted a 4 spot in the second inning and never looked back. They picked up 17 hits and got outstanding relief work from Field, Cerda, and MacDougal.

The flight home tonight will be an enjoyable one. The Royals are 3-3 coming into the home opener tomorrow and they will be at home for 14 of their next 16 games.


  • The Royals are 337-380 all-time in April…
  • BA was originally drafted by the Angles back in 1993 at the age of 20…he pitched for them from 1993 to 1995...
  • Today was BA's 240th career start...
  • BA is coming off a nightmare season in 2004: 6-12 with a 5.64 ERA…
  • Terrence Long left in the fifth inning with a charlie horse in his right thigh…Emil Brown took his place in left and hit his second HR of the season…

Runelvys Hernandez (1-0, 1.29) takes the mound tomorrow against Ryan Franklin (0-0, 2.25) for Seattle. Go Elvis.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Royals Lost This One Early

The Royals lost this one in the fourth inning when Ruben Gotay didn't even attempt to touch the bag when trying to turn a double play. He missed it by at least six inches and the umpire rightly called the runner safe. What I can't figure out is—what in the world was Ruben Gotay smiling about after the play was over? It wasn't funny Ruben. The Angels put up a five spot that inning.

You get the feeling that Tony Graffanino is feeling a little more secure. He played third base again tonight and the way Gotay is playing, Tony might be back at second base on a regular basis quicker than anybody imagined.

At times Lima looked like he had good stuff, especially when he threw his change. But he looked like he got so frustrated at times that he left that ball out over the plate too often—especially in the big Angles fourth inning. That's two bad outings in a row. Let's hope he can get things figured out soon.

Do you catch the two run bomb that Stairs hit in the fifth off Gregg? Stairs may be getting older and need more days off than in the past, but the guy can still hit and he can still hit for power.

But the Royals weren't a threat after the fourth inning. They dropped this one 8-3 and fell to 2-3 on the season.


  • Andy Sisco came in and stopped the bleeding in the fourth…he went on to pitch 3 scoreless innings…time will tell whether he has the stuff to do this on a regular basis…
  • Lima's ERA is 10.80 after his first two starts…
  • DeJesus has his 19 game hitting streaked stopped...
  • The Royals only managed 3 hits tonight...all off of starter Kevin Gregg in the first five innings...

Tomorrow afternoon Brian Anderson gets the ball for the first time this season. He'll go up against Bartolo Colon.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Bautista Dominates the Angels

Tony Pena brought his 6-19 career record into Anaheim tonight and handed the ball to Denny Bautista who made his sixth career start. Denny didn't disappoint, leading the Royals to a 6-2 victory. Last season, he made five starts at the end of the season for the Royals going 0-4, with a 6.51 ERA. He has better stuff than those numbers indicate and tonight he proved that.

Bautista was obtained in the Jason Grimsley trade with Baltimore on June 21, 2004. One quick correction: A couple of days ago the Kansas City Royals official game notes indicated that Jason Grimsley had retired. Today is says that he is on the DL and still with Baltimore.

Bautista had 8 strikeouts tonight and his breaking stuff was knee buckling nasty. His fast ball was popping and at one point in the middle of the game he retired 14 straight hitters. He pitched eight innings and only gave up 1 run on 3 hits.

One key moment in the game came in the top of the fifth inning. DeJesus ripped a ball down the first base line and legged out a triple with one out. Pena put on the suicide squeeze with Graffanino at the plate and Graff laid down a beautiful bunt that got past a diving Paul Byrd on the right side of the infield—scoring the run. Sweeney then came up and ripped a ball down the third base line and scored Graffanino who was running hard all the way. That's the way baseball is supposed to be played and it's fun. The Royals led 5-1 after the inning was over and they never looked back.

Sweeney made several great plays in the field tonight. He made numerous long stretches on errant throws and he went way into the hole to field another ball. After seeing so many balls get by Teahen over at third in the first few games of the season, it's nice to see a corner infielder actually making plays. Speaking of the hot corner, Pena started Graffanino at third base tonight instead of Mark Teahen. I wouldn't mind seeing that happen once a week or so.


  • The Angles swept the Royals in 2004, 7 games to none
  • The Royals are now 242-232 all-time against the Angels
  • David DeJesus continues to swing a hot bat, picking up 2 more hits and he has now hit safely in every game
  • Tony Graffanino is red hot, picking up two more hits and he's now hitting .538
  • Mike Sweeney continues to be an RBI machine and drove in 2 more runs tonight, bringing his season total to 5 already

Tomorrow Jose Lima takes the mound against Kevin Gregg. Let's hope it really is Lima time.

Greinke Injured in First Start

You knew it was going to be a bad day when Zack Greinke got hurt before the third inning was over. He wasn't pitching lights out when he got drilled on the right forearm by a line drive off the bat of Carlos Guillen, but he hadn't given up any runs. He was moving the ball in and out well. He was changing speeds well. And Tigers hitters seemed content to just try to hit the ball up the middle. Guillen was one of those hitters.

Greinke threw a few warm up tosses after he was hit with Guillen's line drive, but he was unable to continue. X-rays were negative and it turns out that he has a bruised forearm. He will be evaluated again today.

The game was scoreless until the sixth when former Royal, Rondell White, took Mike Wood deep. Wood opened the flood gates in the next inning and the Tigers put the game away scoring six runs in the inning.

John Buck is beginning to look like "the catcher of the future" that we were hoping for. Early in the game, he was quick to remind Greinke to get over and cover first base when a left handed hitter came up. In the fourth inning, the Royals pitched out and Buck threw out Carlos Pena, who was attempting to steal second base, by a good two or three feet. Couple his defense with his .293 average, 2 home runs, and 4 RBI this spring and he is looking like a complete package.

Game Notes:

  • Pena decided to give Matt Stairs the day off because he had a tight hamstring and the game time temperature was 55 degrees
  • Sweeney was the DH for the second day in a row…Eli Marrero got the nod at first again
  • Tony Graffanino started at second base for the second day in a row over the stated starter Ruben Gotay
  • Terrence Long went 3-4
  • Emil Brown hit his first home run of the season

The boys in blue flew to Anaheim last night and will take on the Los Angeles Angels tonight. Denny Bautista gets his first start of the season for the Royals and he'll be up against former Royal, Paul Byrd.

As planned, Brian Anderson has been added to the rotation and will follow Lima, who is scheduled to pitch on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Royals Bounce Back

The Royals beat the Tigers this afternoon 7-2 behind a strong pitching effort from Runelvys Hernandez, who took the mound for the first time since August 13, 2003. He had Tommy John surgery on September 5, 2003 and as we all well know, missed the entire 2004 season. So, to see him throw 100 pitches in seven innings and only give up one earned run was quite a treat.

"I feel so excited. I feel great," Hernandez said after the game. "I say thank you to my team for their support. And I'm back."

Not only did the Royals get a strong performance from Hernandez, but they also showed great patience at the plate. Mike Maroth threw over 30 pitches in the first inning. David DeJesus started the game by forcing a full count and when he got a pitch he could handle, he dumped the ball into right field. Graffanino rolled one in between first and second and on into right field after DeJesus got a pitch to run on. After Maroth threw one in the dirt and allowed DeJesus to score, Sweeney forced a full count and then dinked a pitch into center field. Great way to start the game.


  • Mark Teahen got his first major league RBI triple down the right field line, but he still looks slow at the hot corner
  • David DeJesus continued his hot streak with two more hits
  • Tony Graffanino went 4-4 and made a strong case for playing every day
  • John Buck went 2-3 and blocked a couple of pitches in the dirt
  • Angel Berroa hit his first home run of the season
  • Emil Brown looked comfortable in the five hole, going 2-5

Tomorrow afternoon Zack Greinke goes against Jason Johnson in Detroit. Let's hope that Zack gets a little more help than the Royals gave him last year. In his 11 losses, they scored just 15 runs. His stats last year: 8-11, 3.97 ERA in 24 starts.

In case you were wondering...both Jason Grimsley and Curtis Leskanic retired after last season. A big thanks goes out to both of you guys for laying it on the line every night for us the past couple of seasons.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Not a Good Start

The 11-2 drubbing that the Tigers gave us yesterday was the worst possible way to start the season. The team looked lethargic. And they looked completely outmatched by Jeremy Bonderman who gave up 6 hits and 1 run in 7 innings.

Jose Lima on the other hand was up in the strike zone for the three innings that he lasted and Dmitri Young blasted two home runs off of him (and hit one more off MacDougal) to complete the hat trick. Let's hope Lima figures out his control problems before his next start at Los Angeles vs. Kelvim Escobar on April 9th.

The Royals are staring the season with a four man rotation: Lima, Hernandez, Greinke, and Bautista. Brian Anderson will be added to the rotation in the fourth spot the next time through.

Mark Teahen looked the part of a rookie in his major league debut. He was credited with one error, but he misplayed several balls and he looks slow at third in comparison to Joe Randa—who incidentally hit a walk-off home run to give the Reds an opening day victory. Teahen, hitting in the nine hole (how many third basemen hit in the nine hole?), looked like he was in the right place in the batting order, going 0-4. We'll definitely need some patience with Teahen, both in the field and at the plate. He's only 23 and appears to be loaded with talent.

A few other notes:
  • David DeJesus got two hits at the top of the line up.
  • Matt Stairs went 2-3 in the five hole.
  • Calvin Pickering went deep for the first home run of the season for KC.

All in all, a poor way to start the season. But we've got Elvis back and he goes against Mike Maroth tomorrow afternoon in Detroit. Go blue.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Opening Day

Nothing like opening day, is there? Royal Reflections has a new look. The Royals line up has a new look. Every team is even. Every rookie has the chance to become the next big star. And you never know if this "could be the year."

For the first time since 2001, the Royals open on the road today. The Royals are 13-23 in season openers, but going into today's game in Detroit, the Royals are looking for their third straight win on opening day. Remember Carlos Beltran's heroics on opening day last season? Who can forget, huh? I nearly lost my voice during the first game of the season.

I'm anxious to see Mark Teahen in his major league debut. Baird has expressed concerns about Teahen's ability to cope with major league pitching, but when he decided to let Randa sign elsewhere (a bad idea in my opinion) and go with Chris Truby, he set himself up for this. Truby's season-ending injury during spring training meant that we had little choice but to put Teahen in the line up. Hopefully he can stay on the major league roster all season.

I'm also anxious to see Jose Lima pitch in his first game back with the Royals. This is his first opening day start of his career. Were his last two seasons a fluke (8-1 with the Royals in 2003, 13-5 with the Dodgers in 2004)? I guess we'll find out as the 2005 season progresses.
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