Thursday, August 31, 2006

Santana Strikes Out 11 in Win

Game Date: August 31, 2006
Game Score: Twins 3, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: De La Rosa (1–2), LP: Santana (16–5), SV: Nathan (28)
Royal Home Runs: German (2)
Royals Record: 49-86

Jorge De La Rosa wasn’t bad in Minnesota this afternoon. He gave up two earned runs on six hits in five innings of work. But, as has often been the case for our pitchers this year, walks did him in. With the game tied 1–1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, De La Rosa gave up a lead off single to Mike Redmond, and then he walked Michael Cuddyer and then Justin Moureau. Joel Peralta came into the game and got Torii Hunter to ground into a double play, but Redmond still scored on the play, and it turned out to be the winning run.

Royals’ hitters couldn’t get anything going at the plate against Johan Santana. Santana only gave up one earned run on five hits in seven innings. He struck out eleven. We aren’t the first team Santana has dominated, and we won’t be the last.

The level of competition won’t get any easier for the Royals. Tomorrow night, we begin a new series against the White Sox. After they leave town, we’ll face the evil Yankees at home. And then we travel to Boston for three against the Red Sox.

Tomorrow night, Runelvys Hernandez (4–8, 6.67) goes against Jose Contreras (11–6, 4.26). Hernandez is 3–6 in his career against the White Sox with a 7.08 ERA. Contreras is 7–1 against the Royals with a 2.91 ERA.

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Royals Extend Contract with Omaha

Growing up in Omaha, the Omaha Royals have always been part of my life. My mom used to take my sister and I to games. I went to games with various civic groups, like the Cub Scouts, and I’ve gone to many games with friends. Since I’ve been a Kansas City fan all this time, the association that Omaha has with Kansas City has been perfect. I’ve been able to see up and coming talent for the past several decades before guys actually play in Kansas City.

That’s why I was so glad to see this story: Omaha Partnership with KC Extended Through 2008. The article includes the following cool piece of information: “Omaha has been the top-level farm club for Kansas City ever since the Royals entered the American League as an expansion franchise in the 1969 season. The partnership, which will reach 40 years at the end of the new PDC extension, is tied for the second-longest affiliation at the Triple-A level and is tied for the fourth-longest in all of Minor League Baseball.”

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hudson Outduels Bonser

Game Date: August 30, 2006
Game Score: Royals 4, Twins 3 / Box Score
WP: Hudson (7–5), LP: Bonser (3–5), SV: Nelson (4)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 49-85

For the third time in four games, a Royals’ starter has done what he is is supposed to do. Keep the Royals in the game, eat up innings, and even shut down the opposition once in a while. Tonight, Luke Hudson pitched seven strong innings. He gave up two earned runs, five hits, one walk, and a home run (a two-run shot by Michael Cuddyer in the third inning). Afterward, he said he didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept battling. Gobble pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Nelson gave up a solo home run (to Cuddyer again) in the bottom of the ninth, but he shook it off and closed the door on the Twins.

Boof Bonser had great stuff—striking out eight Royals in 5.1, but the Royals finally broke through in the sixth inning. David DeJesus singled to lead off the inning. Mark Grudzielanek hit a ground-rule double. After Mark Teahen struck out, Mike Sweeney singled—driving in DeJesus and Grudzielanek. Emil Brown knocked Bonser from the game with a single. Jesse Crain entered the game and Ryan Shealy greeted him with a single to left that scored Mike Sweeney. The Royals scored an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Andes Blanco singled in Ryan Shealy. Good thing they scored the extra run.

So, the Royals go for the sweep in Minnesota tomorrow afternoon. They've already won the series—the first time the Royals have won a series in Minnesota since August 2000. The Royals will send Jorge De La Rosa (1–1, 7.48) against Johan Santana (9–3, 3.86). De La Rosa is 0–1 with a 11.57 ERA against the Twins in his career. Santana is 9–3 with a 3.86 ERA against the Royals.

The Royals have had Santana on the ropes the last two times they faced him. First, on July 3 in Kansas City, they scored five runs (four earned) on six hits, but the Twins erupted for three runs in the eighth inning to take it away from us. Then, on August 4 in Kansas City, the Royals scored four earned runs on four hits in six innings off of Santana, but Burgos gave up two runs in the ninth to blow the save (what’s new?) and Dohmann gave up three runs in the tenth, and the Twins took another one away from us.

Hopefully tomorrow is a different story.

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Gordon Named Texas League Player of the Year

Alex Gordon is living up to the hype—at least at the Double-A level. His .325 average, 29 HR, and 96 RBI won him the honor of being named the Texas League Player of the Year. Only one other Royals player has ever won the award—Johnny Damon (in 1995).

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Redman Shutsout the Twins

Game Date: August 29, 2006
Game Score: Royals 2, Twins 0 / Box Score
WP: Redman (8–8), LP: Garza (1–3)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 48-85

Bob McClure taught Mark Redman how to throw a cutter (“like a football”) about four weeks ago, and Redman used it to his advantage against the Twins last night. Rather than setting up his change up with his normally sub-par fastball, he set it up with a the cutter and it was quite effective. The Twins never could figure him out. He pitched a complete game shutout—giving up only five hits, walking zero, and striking out three. His ERA is still 5.47, but it was 5.85 before the game. Maybe his new pitch will lead him to respectable numbers before the season is finished.

Our two runs came off the bat of unlikely sources. In the fifth inning, John Buck doubled in Emil Brown to give the Royals a 1–0 lead. Andres Blanco followed Buck with a sacrifice ground out to second that scored Ryan Shealy. Royal hitters were just 7-for-33 on the night, but with Redman pitching so well, that’s all we needed to pick up the win.

According to this article on the Royals website, the Royals have won nine of their last thirteen games against first and second place teams. And then we have this tidbit from an article in the Star this morning: “The last time the Royals had two complete-game shutouts on the same road trip was in 1994–when David Cone got both of them, a four-hitter at Seattle and a one-hitter at California.”

That seems so long ago, doesn’t it?

The Royals send Luke Hudson (6–5, 5.94) against Boof Bonser (3–4, 5.18) tonight in Minnesota. Hudson is 0–1 in his career against the Twins with a 13.50 ERA. Bonser is 0–1 against the Royals with a 12.00 ERA.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hochevar Express Continues to Roll

Luke Hochevar turned in his third straight great performance in Burlington last night. He pitched 3.1 innings and gave up one run (unearned) on three hits. So far, he’s pitched 9.1 innings and he hasn’t given up an earned run yet.

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Keppinger Gets His Shot

Jeff Keppinger was called up on Friday after posting great numbers in Omaha (2 HR, 17 RBI, 12 BB, .354/.465/.872, in 127 AB). He played first base, second base, shortstop, third base, and left field in Omaha—and now he’ll log some time in left at the big league level since Sanders is out for the remainder of the season. He’s normally a second baseman, so it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to the outfield.

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Blue Jays Rock Perez

Game Date: August 27, 2006
Game Score: Blue Jays 10, Royals 6 / Box Score
WP: Lilly (11–11), LP: Perez (1–2)
Royal Home Runs: Sweeney (5)
Royals Record: 47-85

Odalis Perez was hit hard this afternoon in Toronto. He only lasted four innings after giving up six earned runs and walking three guys. The big blow came off the bat of Bengie Molina, who hit a grand slam in the bottom of the third inning. That put the Royals down 5–3. After Perez was removed from the game, Todd Wellemeyer gave up two runs in the fifth inning and the game turned into a slugfest after than. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep up.

We had several guys who had nice days at the plate: David DeJesus was 2-for-5; Mike Sweeney was 1-for-4 with a home run and 2 RBI; Esteban German was 2-for-4 with an RBI (he also played left field—Emil Brown moved to right since Sanders is out of the line up). In spite of what the Royals did offensively, the Blue Jays put up little league numbers against our pitching; they were 15-for-39 (a .385 average) with 10 RBI and 5 BB and 3 HR.

The Royals are off tomorrow. They’ll open a new series on Tuesday night in Minnesota—which is a little scary, considering that the Twins are 44–20 at home this season. Mark Redman (7–8, 5.85) will go against Matt Garza (1–2, 6.59). Redman is 0–3 in his career agains the Twins with a 6.00 ERA. Garza has never pitched against the Royals.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hernandez Dominates Blue Jays

Game Date: August 26, 2006
Game Score: Royals 2, Blue Jays 0 / Box Score
WP: Hernandez (4–8), LP: Halladay (16–4)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (17), Shealy (3)
Royals Record: 47-84

Don’t be surprised if this game ends up as a “Sign of the Apocalypse” in Sports Illustrated next week. Runelvys Hernandez threw a seven-hit shutout and beat Roy Halladay. I’m not a betting man, but I’d love to have seen the line on this game before it started. It had to have been astronomical. But, as they say, that’s why the play that games. You never know what’s going to happen.

Halladay really only made two mistakes all day. He left a pitch up to Mark Teahen in the first inning and Teahen crushed the ball off the right field foul pole. Then Halladay left a pitch up to Shealy in the third inning and Shealy smashed his third home run of the season. At one point, Halladay was pitching so well that he’d only thrown four balls in the first four innings. His final numbers weren’t bad either. He threw 110 pitches—84 of which were strikes. Wow.

But this day belonged to Hernandez—who threw his first career shutout. He threw 121 pitches (86 of which were strikes) and he only walked one guy. Impressive outing. I’m not sure why he looks so good one outing and then horrible for two or three, but it’s hard to argue with what he did today. And his excellent outing finally gave the bull pen a little relief.

Tomorrow afternoon in Toronto, Odalis Perez (5–5, 6.11) goes against Ted Lilly (10–11, 4.64). Perez is 2–0 in his career against the Blue Jays with a 0.59 ERA. Lilly is 0–1 against the Royals with a 5.93 ERA.

Reggie Sanders Gone for the Season

If you been waiting to tell me, “I told you so,” go ahead and do it now. Reggie Sanders is going to miss the rest of the season due to a partial tear in his left patellar tendon in his knee. No surgery date has been set yet. Sanders only played 88 games with the Royals this year, and he didn’t put up horrible numbers when he actually did play—.246 average, 11 HR, 49 RBI. If you project those numbers out over a full season, he would have hit 20 HR and driven in 90 runs. But nobody expected Sanders to play every day, and in fact, most people seemed to think that he’d miss a ton of time. Unfortunately, they were right. RR wishes Sanders a speedy recovery.

"Sloppy" Play Leads to Another Loss

Game Date: August 25, 2006
Game Score: Blue Jays 6, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Marcum (2–3), LP: Hudson (6–5), SV: Ryan (29)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 46-84

Shaun Marcum is not having a good season. The last time he started for the Blue Jays, he gave up nine runs in 4.1 innings—a game that the Blue Jays lost to the Orioles 15–0. Marcum’s 5.88 ERA would make him a good fit in our rotation—say around the second or third slot. But you don’t expect to see other teams running guys like him out to the mound. So, what did he do against us? Six innings, one earned run, four strike outs, and his second win of the season.

Luke Hudson, on the other hand, gave up five earned runs, four walks, and ten hits in six innings. And he’s now staring at a rather Marcum-like 5.94 ERA. Hudson faltered early—giving up doubles to Frank Catalanotto and Vernon Wells in the first inning before Troy Glaus drove them both in with a single to centerfield. In the second inning, Aaron Hill singled to lead off the inning and John McDonald tripled to score Hill. A sacrifice fly by Reed Johnson made it 4–0 Blue Jays. And so it went. The Royals didn’t get on the board until the fifth inning, during which they scored on a wild pitch.

We had chances to score. Like when the bases were loaded in the second inning with two outs. But Joey Gathright grounded out. Or like when the bases were loaded in the sixth inning with no outs and John Buck and Angel Berroa both struck out, followed by a fly out by Gathright. What can you do except shake your head? At least we weren’t subject to the standard quotes after the game from Bell and several players about how good Marcum is and that he “just made things difficult because he has such great stuff.”

Instead we got this from Bell: “Just sloppy. Sloppy all night. We had opportunities. We just can’t seem to get that big double or home run to get back in a game.”

We also can’t seem to pitch, field, or run the bases properly.

The game this afternoon in Toronto is a train wreck in waiting. Runelvys Hernandez (3–8, 7.50) goes against Roy Halladay (16–3, 3.18). Hernandez is 1–3 in his career against the Blue Jays with a 4.85 ERA. Halladay is 7–2 against the Royals with a 3.24 ERA.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mientkiewicz To Miss Rest of Season

Doug Mientkiewicz is going to have season-ending back surgery on Monday. RR wishes him a speedy recovery. This will give Ryan Shealy a chance to play the rest of the year at first base and surely Justin Huber will get a little playing time there as well in September.

Cleveland Takes Advantage of Error

Game Date: August 24, 2006
Game Score: Indians 8, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Sabathia (9–8), LP: Gobble (3–5)
Royal Home Runs: Sweeney (4)
Royals Record: 46-83

Between David DeJesus, Esteban German, and Mike Sweeney, we had 7 hits, 3 RBI, and a home run at the top of our line up last night. Throw in Ryan Shealy’s 3-for-4 with an RBI performance and Cleveland’s two errors, and you might think we’d have a shot to win the ball game and ultimately the serious. But don’t forget to factor in the Berroa and Burgos factor—one of whom (Berroa) made a critical error in the eighth inning to give Cleveland the lead, and the other (Burgos) who, once again, poured gasoline on the fire by giving up three insurance runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach.

How bad are these two? Let me count the ways, starting with Berroa:

His fielding percentage is .967—which means he’s the 21st rated shortstop in baseball. I can’t imagine what 22–30 look like on a nightly basis. He ranks 25th in zone rating—even behind Derek Jeter. He has more errors (16) than he does walks (12). He’s hitting .237 with an OBP of . 263. He’s an awful base runner. And he seems to find the most inopportune moments for which to model his badness.

Now for Burgos:

His ERA is 5.92. He’s walked 33 guys and given up 15 home runs in 62.1 innings. He has more blown saves (12) than anybody else in baseball—and Jason Isringhausen and Francisco Cordero blow a lot of games. He works slower than any other pitcher on the Royals staff, which is hard to understand since he really only has two pitches (one of which he can’t throw for a strike). Yeah, I know—he’s recently added a slider as a third pitch. Have you seen that thing? It floats right out over the middle of the plate. He’s tied for tenth in the major leagues in wild pitches (9)—he’s up there with a lot of starters who have thrown way more innings. He’s tied for first in the major leagues in balks (3). He lost the closer’s role, and he’s still bad in a set up role.

With September call ups at hand, I’m hoping that we see less of these two guys in the final month of the season.

The Royals start a new series in Toronto tonight. Luke Hudson (6–4, 5.77) goes against Shaun Marcum (1–3, 6.49).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Royals Blow Huge Lead

Game Date: August 23, 2006
Game Score: Indians 15, Royals 13 / Box Score
WP: Betancourt (2–4), LP: Sisco (1–3), SV: Mastny (2)
Royal Home Runs: Grudzielanek (7), Sweeney (3)
Royals Record: 46-82

The worst part about blowing a nine run lead is that people have come to expect it from the Royals. Not that we’ve done it often. In fact, it’s never happened before in Royals’ history. I’m sure you’ll catch snide remarks if you can stomach watching clips of the fiasco on ESPN or if you listen to sports radio. But even the remarks will have an inherent “what do you expect?” attitude.

The Royals spotted Jorge De La Rosa to a 10–1 lead in the first inning and he couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. Here’s his awful line: 6 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 HR in 3.1 IP. I don’t take much solace in this fact, but at least he didn’t walk the bases full before giving up all the long balls.

With the exception of Jimmy Gobble and Joel Peralta, we couldn’t figure out how to get the Indians out. After scoring once in the opening frame, they scored two runs in the third inning, three runs in the fourth inning, one run in the fifth inning, two runs in the sixth inning, four more runs in the ninth inning, and they struck a final blow with two more in the tenth.

The Royals used seven pitchers. Todd Wellemeyer, who is being worked to death, gave up three runs. Joe Nelson gave up four runs. Burgos blew the save (big surprise there, huh?). And Sisco gave up two runs.

This prompted me to look up our team pitching statistics. Check this out:

  • Our team ERA is 5.73, which ranks last in baseball—by far. Baltimore is ranked 29th with a 5.28 ERA.
  • Our BAA is .291, which ranks last in baseball, by far. Pittsburgh is ranked 29th with a .285 BAA.
  • We’ve walked 507 guys, which ranks second to last in baseball. Only the Cubs are worse.
  • We are tied for second to last in complete games (1).
  • We’ve struck out a total of 683 guys, which ranks last in baseball—by far. Colorado is ranked 29th with 727.
  • Our strike out to walk ratio is 1.25, which ranks last in baseball—by far. Tampa Bay is ranked 29th with a 1.61 strike out to walk ratio.
  • We’ve blown 25 saves, which ranks last in baseball.
  • We’ve given up 172 home runs. We are tied for last with Cincinnati.
  • Teams have an OPS of .844 against us, which ranks us last in baseball—by far. Baltimore is ranked 29th with an .814 OPS against.
  • We’ve thrown more wild pitches (67) than any other team in the major leagues.
  • We’ve balked eight times, which is tied for the most in the major leagues.
  • Our WHIP is 1.60, which ranks us last in baseball—by far. Tampa Bay is ranked 29th with a 1.55 WHIP.

We have the worst pitching staff in baseball. Sad but true.

Unfortunately, said bad pitching overshadowed an unbelievable night at the plate for several of our hitters. Mark Teahen had four more hits. Mike Sweeney was 4-for-6. And Emil Brown was 3-for-6. Thirteen runs just weren’t enough last night.

Tonight, the Royals send Mark Redman (7–8, 5.79) against C.C. Sabathia (8–8, 3.29). Redman is 5–1 against Cleveland in his career with a 2.86 ERA. Sabathia is 10–6 against the Royals with a 3.33 ERA.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Teahen Leads Royals to Victory

Game Date: August 22, 2006
Game Score: Royals 5, Indians 2 / Box Score
WP: Perez (1–1), LP: Lee (10–9)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (16)
Royals Record: 46-81

In a game reminiscent of so many others in the past in which the greatest third baseman in Royals’ history hoisted the team on his shoulders and carried them to victory, Mark Teahen was 4-for-4 last night with a home run, two doubles, a single, two stolen bases, and he scored the winning run. He stretched a single into a double to set the winning run up. He’s not only a smart base runner, but he always hustles down the base paths; the two make for a deadly combination.

Winning pitcher Odalis Perez had this to say about Teahen’s performance: “Wow, he’s awesome. He’s one of the better young players I’ve ever seen because he’s not ever satisfied with a home run and a double. He wants to score the winning run.”

Perez wasn’t bad either.

He pitched seven innings and only gave up two earned runs on seven hits and a walk—and in so doing, he won for the first time as a starter since April 21. Burgos was shaky again in relief, giving up two hits in the eighth, but he got out of the inning without allowing any runs. Joe Nelson nailed down his third save of the year and now appears to be the primary closer.

Mike Sweeney and Angel Berroa were back, but they went a combined 0-for-5. Sweeney did pick up an RBI with a sacrifice fly.

Tonight the Royals sent Jorge De La Rosa (1–1, 5.89) against Paul Byrd (8–6, 4.55). De La Rosa is 0–0 in his career against the Indians with a 6.00 ERA. Byrd is 1–3 with a 4.60 ERA against the Royals.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An Afternoon at the Blatt

I caught an Omaha Royals game this afternoon. They played the New Orleans Zephyrs. Omaha sent Andy Van Hekken to the mound for his seventh start of the season. He’s a Mark Redman-type of pitcher. He’s a soft-throwing lefty who relies heavily upon hitting his spots. His fast ball tops out in the low 90’s but he only hit that mark a couple of times. He stayed around 87 mph most of the game with his fastball. His breaking stuff was in the 78–79 mph neighborhood—which really isn’t enough of a difference to keep guys off balance and early in the game the Zephyrs stung the ball, but it was usually right at people.

Van Hekken settled down and began to hit his spots and he took a one-hitter into the middle of the game. He didn’t walk anybody and ended up throwing eight strong innings—only allowing three hits; one of which was a solo home run in the eighth. Here are a couple of photos of Van Hekken in action (the second of which shows him pitching against former Royals' catcher Alberto Castillo):

Shane Costa had a monster day at the plate. He was 3-for-3 with 2 RBI and a towering home run down the right field line. Costa is now hitting .360 in Omaha and really looks like he’s better than a Triple-A player. He also made a nice running grab in the right field gap late in the game. Here’s a photo of Shane in action, as well as a shot of his offensive numbers:

Mike Coolbaugh, Omaha’s DH and clean up hitter, struck out three times and his average is down to .230. Coolbaugh was outmatched most of the game—but even more so when the Zephyrs brought in Danny Rueckel who approached the mid-90s.

Leo Nunez came in to close the game in he ninth. The Royals had a 3–1 lead and Nunez stumbled a little—allowing one hit and one walk, but he finally closed the door and the Royals won 3–1. Here’s a link to the box score. And here’s a photo of Nunez in action:

Esteban Yan was up late in the game, but never saw any action:

Here’s a shot of Casey being Casey:

Finally, here’s a couple of shots at the end of the game:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hernandez Struggles Again

Game Date: August 20, 2006
Game Score: A’s 6, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Saarloos (6-6), LP: Hernandez (3-8)
Royal Home Runs: Sanders (11), Grudzielanek (6)
Royals Record: 45-81

How many more starts is it going to take Runelvys Hernandez before we see the guy we saw in Chicago last week? His performance yesterday was awful. Early on, it was clear for all to see that he didn’t have any command and his velocity was down. He appeared to be overthrowing his fastball even though it was only going 89 mph and after it left his hand it rode way up and way in to right-handed hitters. He eventually hit Jay Payton, which didn’t make Jay real happy, but I get the sense that nothing makes Jay real happy.

Runelvys gave up three runs in the first inning and another run in the second. He settled down a little after that, but he still couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. He threw 90 pitches in 4.2 innings and his ERA soared to 7.50. He’s starting to make Jose Lima’s 6.99 ERA from last season look good.

The Royals tried to work their way back into the game. Reggie Sanders hit a solo home run off the top of the right field wall in the fourth inning to make it 4-1 Oakland. Paul Bako singled in Reggie Sanders in the sixth to make it 4-2 Oakland. But Todd Wellemeyer, who came in for Hernandez, gave up two runs in the top of the eighth to make it 6-2 Oakland.

In the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Mark Grudzielanek lined a ball down the right field line and it got past Milton Bradley, and after that, Bradley seemed to give up on the play and Grud had himself a two-run inside the park home run. It made for a little excitement. Mark Teahen was due up next and if he could have found a way to reach base, Emil Brown would have had the chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat. Unfortunately, Teahen grounded out to first and the game was over.

Here’s a picture I snapped of Mark Teahen facing Joe Kennedy earlier in the game:

The Royals are off today. Tomorrow, they’ll begin a new series at home against the Indians.

Zito Outpitches Redman

Game Date: August 19, 2006
Game Score: A’s 7, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Zito (13-8), LP: Redman (7-8)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 45-80

I was in attendance for this game. Barry Zito was sharp through eight innings. I don’t know if his curve ball quite as good as it was earlier in his career, but he threw his breaking ball for strikes and he seemed to be able to locate it anywhere he wanted to.

Mike Sweeney, seen facing Zito below, managed to get a hit off of him. But the Royals managed only eight hits on the night.

We still had a pretty good game going into the seventh inning. The score was tied 2-2, but after Jay Payton singled to lead off the inning, Bell needed to get somebody up in the pen. He didn’t. Redman then walked Nick Swisher, and still Bell didn’t get anybody up. Finally, during Bobby Crosby’s at bat, the pen began to stir, but it was too late. Crosby laid down a sacrifice bunt and Redman threw the ball away. The A’s took a 3-2 lead with runners at first and third with no outs. Joel Peralta came in and got an out, and then gave up a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2. With two lefties coming up, Bell brought in Andrew Sisco and I cringed. He got knocked around and allowed to more guys to score and this one was over.

And we lost more than just a game. Mike Sweeney left the game in the third inning with a sore knee--a product of sliding the night before in a stolen base attempt. He was hoping to return to action on Sunday, but that didn't happen. Reporters asked Bell if Mike was headed for the DL and he said he wasn't. I guess we'll wait and see.

In spite of it all, does anything beat a beautiful Saturday night at the K?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Royals Take Two

Game Two:

Game Date: August 18, 2006
Game Score: Royals 5, A’s 3 / Box Score
WP: Burgos (3-5), LP: Street (4-4), SV: Nelson (2)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 45-79

Jorge De La Rosa struggled with his control in this one, but in spite of walking four guys, he only gave up one run in five innings. But he faltered in the sixth inning—loading the bases without getting any outs before being yanked. Ambiorix Burgos came in and did a great job in only allowing one of those runners to score.

Esteban Loaiza looked like the Loaiza of old against us. He struck out seven and gave up no earned runs in 6.2 innings. Thankfully his pitch count was high (110), so he was forced to leave the game.

Things looked bleak on the top of the eighth inning when Frank Thomas blasted a two-run home run off Burgos to give the A’s a 3-1 lead, but the Royals saved the best for last. Andres Blanco singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Then David DeJesus singled. Blanco scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 3-2 Oakland. Huston Street entered the game for the A’s and was greeted by Mark Teahen with a single to put runners at the corners with one out. Then Mike Sweeney did it again. He doubled to left field and drove in two runs to give the Royals a 4-3 lead. Emil Brown hit a sacrifice fly to score Joey Gathright (who pinch ran for Sweeney), and Joe Nelson made the 5-3 lead stand up.

Tonight, the Royals send Mark Redman (7-7, 5.93) against Barry Zito (12-8, 3.83). I’m planning to be at the K tonight. Hopefully I can snap a couple of decent photos to post here soon.


Game One

Game Date: August 18, 2006
Game Score: Royals 7, A’s 1 / Box Score
WP: Hudson (6-4), LP: Blanton (13-10)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 44-79

Luke Hudson rebounded nicely last night from his disastrous start on Monday, during which he gave up 10 earned runs in the first inning. Hudson threw a strong seven innings against the A’s last night and he only gave up five hits and one earned run.

The Royals had their offense clicking in game one. Mike Sweeney was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Emil Brown was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Ryan Shealy was 3-for-5 with 2 RBI. Joey Gathright was 1-for-3 with 2 RBI. And Mark Teahen and Paul Bako both had two hits.

Gobble and Peralta were tough in relief—giving up a total of only one hit in the two innings they pitched. And with the win, the Royals finally beat the A’s at home for the first time since May 31, 2003—a stretch of 12 straight losses.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Moneyball & Mark Teahen

Check out this article at Yahoo! Sports about Mark Teahen: Rethinking Moneyball

Royals Gaining Respect?

Seems that the Royals are gaining the respect of a couple of major league managers. Click here to read all of the comments made by Ozzie Guillen and Jim Leyland. Here’s a little taste, from Leyland:

“I've been telling everybody since the All-Star Game [that] Kansas City is going to be better, they’re going to give people fits,” Leyland said. “Nobody listened to me. They didn’t believe me. All year long I heard this stuff, ‘You haven’t played anybody.’ Well, we played the same Kansas City that just beat [up] Boston.

“Kansas City is hungry. They’re out to prove things. They’re a very dangerous team. You say these things and the writers go, ‘Aw, c’mon.’ I respect Kansas City, and I’ll guarantee that Boston does too.”

Royals Miss Big Opportunity

Game Date: August 17, 2006
Game Score: White Sox 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Buehrle (10-10), LP: Perez (0-1), SV: Jenks (34)
Royal Home Runs: DeJesus (7), Teahen (15), Brown (12)
Royals Record: 43-79

We rarely play games anymore in which something odd doesn’t happen. Yesterday, David DeJesus led off the game with a home run. Pablo Ozuna returned the favor for the White Sox when he led off the bottom of the first. Emil Brown led off the top of the second inning with a home run and then Jermaine Dye led off the bottom of the second with another dinger. Four successive lead off home runs to start a game has never happened in the history of the game. Angel Berroa broke the pattern when he led off the third.

After Odalis Perez gave up another run in the bottom of the third, both starting pitchers settled down. Perez ended up throwing 117 pitches and he made it through the seventh inning—giving up four earned runs on five hits. Mark Buehrle made it through the sixth inning, and with the exception of the two home runs, he kept the Royals in check.  

The Royals were trailing 5-3 going into the ninth with Bobby Jenks on the mound. Ryan Shealy drew a walk. And Berroa singled with one out, moving Shealy to second. DeJesus plugged the gap in left center field and Shealy scored to make it 5-4 White Sox. The Royals had runners on second and third with only one out. Ozzie Guillen played the percentages and intentionally walked Mark Grudzielanek to set up the double play. That brought Mike Sweeney to the plate with bases loaded and only one out. This time, he didn’t get the job done. He grounded to Crede who stepped on third base for the force and then he easily threw Sweeney out at first to end the game. We missed a great opportunity to at least tie this one, if not win it and take three out of four from the White Sox.

Tonight, the Royals begin a new series at home against the A’s. They’ll be playing a double-header (weather-permitting), starting at 4:10 p.m. Luke Hudson (5-4, 6.39) will start game one against Joe Blanton (13-9, 4.53). Jorge De La Rosa (3-3, 8.24) will go against Esteban Loaiza (6-7, 5.97) in game two.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hochevar Impressive in Debut

Luke Hochevar made his debut yesterday with the Burlington Bees and he didn’t disappoint those in attendance. He didn’t allow any hits in the two innings he pitched and he hit 94-95 on the radar gun.

“I threw my fastball, change-up and curveball,” Hochevar is quoted as saying in an article on the Royals website. “I was able to get into counts where I can use all my pitches. That was really the key, where I could sharpen all my pitches and get into that mode.”

Optimism is certainly running high in the Royals’ organization regarding Hochevar. Here’s a little blurb from an article in the Star today from another article about Hochevar: “Royals general manager Dayton Moore says Hochevar ‘has a chance to be one of the faces of this organization.’ Pitching coach Bob McClure says Hochevar has major-league stuff—right now.”

And the optimism doesn’t stop with Moore and McClure. Listen to this:

“There’s no doubt Kansas City can win a World Series, and I want to be part of that someday,” Hochevar said. “I hope I can be part of that someday. I’m going to do everything in my will to make that happen. Lots of people may laugh at that, the way the team’s going, but that’s what I believe.

“Nothing can be accomplished unless you buy into it and believe in it and sell yourself out to it.”

Grudzielanek Signs Extension

For a while yesterday, it sounded like Mark Grudzielanek was going to become a Tiger. They need a second baseman since Placido Polanco separated his left shoulder this week, and Grudzielanek seems like the perfect rent-a-player. But then the Royals stepped up and signed him for next season, and gave him an option for the 2008 season.

The Associated Press says Grudzielanek will make $4 million next season and $4-4.5 million for 2008 if he exercises his option. He can also earn performance bonuses.

“The actuality is, if they didn’t see me as part of the team in the next few years, [the trade] probably would have happened,” said Grudzielanek in an article appearing on the Royals website. “With both sides liking each other and being happy in the situation and believing in what we have here...I believe this team can put together a very solid year and be a playoff-contending team very soon.”

It’s one thing to hear guys in their early and mid-twenties saying we could be a playoff-contender soon, but to hear a 36 year-old guy who probably won’t be around past 2008 say it is quite another.

Bernero Gets First Win

Game Date: August 16, 2006
Game Score: Royals 10, White Sox 4 / Box Score
WP: Bernero (1-0), LP: Contreras (11-5)
Royal Home Runs: Grudzielanek (5), Shealy (2)
Royals Record: 43-78

Adam Bernero had his second straight strong outing of the season last night by shutting out the White Sox for six innings. He only gave up five hits in six innings and he struck out six. And I’m guessing that he solidified a spot in our rotation for the remainder of the year. Of course, everybody thought that about Bobby Keppel after he had a couple of good starts.

The Royals were finally able to do something at the plate against Jose Contreras. He owned us up until last night. But in the third inning, Mark Grudzielanek hit a three-run home run. Reggie Sanders doubled to score Emil Brown. And Ryan Shealy smashed a two-run home run to left field to make it 6-0. The Royals added one more run in the fourth, and three in eighth to go up 10-0 before Scott Dohmann came in for mop up duty in the ninth and gave up a grand slam. But it’s hard to be upset after such a big win. The Royals have a chance this afternoon to take three out of four games against the White Sox in Chicago.

Odalis Perez (4-4, 6.54) goes against Mark Buehrle (9-10, 4.87) this afternoon at 1:10 p.m. Perez is 0-1 in his career against the White Sox with a 8.00 ERA. Buehrle is 13-6 against the Royals with a 3.23 ERA.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Elvis' Solid Effort Leads to W

Game Date: August 15, 2006
Game Score: Royals 4, White Sox 2 / Box Score
WP: Hernandez (3-7), LP: Vazquez (11-7)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (14), Brown (11)
Royals Record: 42-78

Can anybody figure out Runelvys Hernandez? He’s either dominant or awful. His 7.49 ERA attests to the fact that he’s been more awful than dominant, but after matching up well against Curt Schilling last Thursday, and after beating Vazquez last night, dare we hold out hope? I’m not really there yet. I’d at least like to see his ERA somewhere around 5.00 before that happens. But I’ll take what he gave us last night.

In one of the odder plays you’ll ever see, the Royals took a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning when Mark Teahen hit a two-run home run to center field on what was supposed to be a hit and run with Mark Grudzielanek at first base.

“If you don’t hit the ball on the ground on a hit-and-run,” said Buddy Bell, “you need to hit it out of the ballpark. That’s what he did. So it’s OK…I’ve just never seen that before.”

This has been a season of many firsts for the Royals. We’ll just add this one to the list.

You’ve probably noticed that Bell has changed the batting order a little since Sweeney’s return. Mike has been hitting third since his return, but last night, he found himself in the clean up spot and Teahen hit third. Emil Brown has been hitting ahead of Reggie Sanders—which is probably a good move. Brown has finally found his power stroke and Reggie has been pressing at the plate. He did have hits last night.

Ambiorix Burgos played set up man last night at picked up a hold. And finally, Bell gave Joe Nelson a chance to close a game, and he had little problem doing so. He picked up his first career save. May it be the first of many.

Adam Bernero (0-0, 1.59) goes against Jose Contreras (11-4, 3.53) tonight in Chicago. Bernero is 1-3 in his career against the White Sox with a 5.91 ERA. Contreras is 7-0 against the Royals with a 2.16 ERA.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Greinke Update

Here’s some encouraging news about Zack Greinke at Greinke is dominating again.

Update (08-16-06): Here's a link to an article in the KC Star this morning that says the Royals plan to keep Greinke in Wichita until their season in complete. They are in a pennant race right now and Moore thinks that pitching in that type of environment is good for Greinke. Sounds like Greinke will get a September call up.

Another Drubbing

Game Date: August 14, 2006
Game Score: White Sox 12, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Garland (13-4), LP: Redman (7-7)
Royal Home Runs: Buck (9)
Royals Record: 41-78

By all reports I’ve seen, Mark Redman had good stuff last night.

“Mark’s stuff was good early,” said White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski. “He was changing speeds on us. But in the fourth inning, we finally got to him.”

Wouldn’t you have hated to see how many runs Redman would have given up with bad stuff? He gave up 8 ER, 10 H and 1 HR in 3.2 IP. And once again, Bell had to call on the bullpen early in the game. This time it was Joel Peralta, who gave up one run in 2.1 innings pitched. Then Andrew Sisco pitched the final two innings and it wasn’t pretty. He gave up three earned runs in two innings (and his ERA is now 7.38).

This game was over in the fourth, after the White Sox threw a snowman on the board. We did have 10 hits, but most of them were harmless. Sweeney had two more hits (he’s had a hit in every game since his return). Shealy had two hits. John Buck hit a solo homerun. And Angel Berroa was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Garland pitched seven strong innings against us and only gave up one run.

Tonight, Runelvys Hernandez (2-7, 8.15) goes against Javier Vazquez (11-6, 5.13). Hernandez is 2-6 against the White Sox in his career with a 7.76 ERA. Unfortunately, Vazquez is 4-0 against the Royals with a 1.43 ERA.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Game Date: August 13, 2006
Game Score: Indians 13, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Sowers (4-3), LP: Hudson (5-4)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 41-77

Eleven runs. In one inning. Off of our best starting pitcher. Okay, only ten of the eleven runs were earned, but that doesn’t really soften the blow, does it? Luke Hudson’s ERA went from a mediocre 4.65 to 6.39 in one game.

“It can’t get worse than that,” Hudson said afterward. “I felt like I didn’t have a lot of pop on my fastball. My sinker wasn’t sinking a whole lot. But you never expect it to be that bad.”

The last thing that Buddy Bell probably wanted to do was to throw Hudson on the altar, but what choice did he have? Our starting staff hasn’t pitched late enough in games recently and that has led to an overworked pen. And I’m guessing that we are just fresh out of guys who could pitch five innings in relief.

The four game sweep by the Indians have sent the Royals in a tailspin. We’ve lost 11 of our last 15 games, and don’t look now, but we’re about to begin a four game series in Chicago against the World Champions. We’re already a pitiful 15-44 on the road this season and we’re 4-8 against the White Sox this season.

Mark Redman (7-6, 5.49) goes against Jon Garland (12-4, 5.16) tonight. Redman is 3-3 with a 4.76 ERA in his career against the White Sox. Garland is 12-5 with a 4.12 against the Royals.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bullpen Fails Again, and Again

Game Two:

Game Date: August 12, 2006
Game Score: Indians 6, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Sikorski (1-0), LP: Gobble (3-4)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 41-76

Jorge De La Rosa struggled in game two, but he found a way to stay on the mound for six innings without giving up too many runs—which is a good thing considering how overworked our bullpen is right now. De La Rosa gave up 4 ER in 6.0 innings. He walked three and struck out six.

The game was tied 4-4 going into the eighth inning. The Royals scored a run in the top of the inning, but Gobble gave the lead right back to the Indians when he gave up a home run to Grady Sizemore and then, after an error by Grudzielanek, gave up a double to Travis Hafner.

I’m not even sure it is possible to be positive after losing three straight one-run games the way the Royals have, but David DeJesus walked four times in this game, Mark Teahen was 1-for-3 with 2 walks (making him 4-for-7 for the day), and Ryan Shealy was 3-for-5 with 4 RBI.

But in the end, it was yet another game in which our bullpen failed us, which doesn’t surprise me. We’re working these guys to death since our starting staff rarely even makes it into the seventh inning of a game. And let’s be honest, we don’t really have anybody who can close games out.

I’ve said enough about Burgos recently. But Sisco clearly isn’t ready. Gobble is struggling. Dohmann has some nasty stuff, but his rather inflated ERA resembles Burgos’. Todd Wellemeyer has a decent ERA (3.34), but he’s walked more guys (20) than he’s struck out (17). The Royals aren’t even convinced that Joel Peralta belongs in the big leagues. And that leaves us with Joe Nelson, who has a 3.00 ERA. He has an impressive 22 strikeouts in 25 innings, but he’s also walked 12 guys.

So Bell doesn’t have a lot of options right now.

The Royals will try to salvage what’s left of a horrible weekend when they send Luke Hudson (5-3, 4.65) against Jeremy Sowers (3-3, 3.93) this afternoon.


Game One:

Game Date: August 12, 2006
Game Score: Indians 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Betancourt (1-4), LP: Nelson (0-1)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 41-75

The Royals came from behind to score three runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game 4-4, but in the end, a walk in the ninth inning did us in—again (this time by Joe Nelson). The Indians played small ball to score the winning run in walk off fashion—capping the rally off with a single by Travis Hafner.

Odalis Perez had a good line to start the game: 2 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 6 K in 6.0 IP. But Andrew Sisco gave up two runs in the eighth inning without recording an out to spoil Perez’s effort.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Burgos Does it Again

Game Date: August 11, 2006
Game Score: Indians 4, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Cabrera (2-2), LP: Burgos (2-5)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 41-74

How many more times is Buddy Bell going to hand the ball to Ambiorix Burgos after the Royals have worked so hard to get a lead—only to watch Burgos throw it away?

Burgos fools nobody and he doesn’t throw strikes. Not a great combination. He entered the game tonight in the ninth inning with a 3-1 lead. After somehow getting one out, he gave up a single to Ryan Garko, and then another single to Ramon Vazquez. Then he walked Aaron Boone. And Grady Sizemore had little problem dropping a ball in the left field corner up against the wall—driving in all three guys on base and ending the game in walk off fashion.

We got a great start out of Adam Bernero (1 ER in 5.2 IP)—who has a great change up by the way. Joel Peralta and Jimmy Gobble pitched well in relief—giving up only one hit and no runs. Mark Teahen got three more hits. David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek had two hits each. And we should have won this game.

Joe Nelson closed games in Omaha. He had seven saves with a 1.97 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. His numbers in KC aren’t too shabby either; he’s 0-0 in 24 appearances with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Why not make him the closer? Would it be possible for him to pitch worse than Burgos has this season?

The Royals and Indians play two tomorrow in Cleveland. Odalis Perez (0-0, 7.00) is scheduled to start game one. The Indians have not announced their starter(s).

RR Poll Resutls

Here are the results from the latest Royal Reflections poll that asked this question: “How long should Dayton Moore be given to turn things around in Kansas City?”

36% (14 votes): 1 year
23% (9 votes): 4-5 years
21% (8 votes): 3-4 years
10% (4 votes): 1-2 years
10% (4 votes): 2-3 years

A new poll will be up soon.

Shealy's Chat Transcript

As promised, here’s the link to the Ryan Shealy online chat transcript. I was glad to hear that Doug Mientkiewicz is already helping him and I like Shealy’s attitude regarding playing time. He was asked: Where do you see yourself once Doug Mientkiewicz gets off the disabled list?

Shealy: “Doug's a good player and he will only help our team to finish as good as we can in the last month and a half. Whatever playing time Buddy Bell decides on is fine with me. I'm just trying to improve my skills every day. Doug's definitely been a big help thus far.”

Royals Complete the Sweep

Game Date: August 10, 2006
Game Score: Royals 5, Red Sox 4 / Box Score
WP: Sisco (1-2), LP: Schilling (14-5), SV: Burgos (18)
Royal Home Runs: Brown (10)
Royals Record: 41-73

Curt Schilling was on the ropes in the eighth inning last night, attempting to protect a small lead—and even though he is a warrior, you had the sense that the Royals were about to find a way to produce one finally rally at the bell to take this one away from him. They’d already found the gap against him six times and Emil Brown had taken him deep once. But still, he had a 4-2 lead going into the eighth.

Then Sweeney doubled with one out and things got interesting. Mark Teahen hit an apparent single that scored Sweeney, but Teahen ran hard out of the box and had second base on his mind—and he got it. Emil Brown walked and that’s when I thought Francona would yank Schilling, but he didn’t. He let him pitch to Reggie Sanders, who already had two doubles in the game, and Sanders did it again—this time down the right field line.

This, by the way, is another advantage of having veterans like Sanders on the team. He was teammates with Schilling in Arizona, and he’d faced him in the National League when they weren’t teammates. He knew how nasty Schilling’s cutter can be, but Sanders found a way to put good wood on the ball three times—the final time tied the game 4-4.

But still no Francona. Ryan Shealy singled in Brown and put the Royals up 5-4. Then Francona removed Schilling, but it was too late. Ambiorix Burgos pitched a perfect inning for the first time since June 18 to close the game out.

And the Royals completed a three game sweep of the Red Sox.

I don’t dislike the Red Sox, but listening to the national media and browsing a few Red Sox blogs has been kind of fun. Everybody is incredulous that the Red Sox were swept by the worst team in baseball. I understand how they feel and I’d probably be saying the same thing—unless I had actually been following said worst team and realized that they are relatively healthy for the first time in three months and they played a pretty good stretch of baseball before the break. Well, I’d still be a little upset.

Runelvys Hernandez was apparently pitching for his major league career last night—or at least his stint with the Royals—and he did an adequate enough job. He gave up four earned runs in seven innings and he only walked one guy (instead of nine like he did in his last outing). His ERA is still 8.15, but with Adam Bernero getting called up from Omaha and placed into the rotation, the Royals are close to being out of options regarding starters who could take Hernandez’s place. Although, Zack Greinke appears to be turning things around in Wichita. He’s made 13 starts there and he’s 6-2 with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. His strikeout to walk ratio is 3.75 to 1. So, why not give Zack a shot?

Well, let’s hope that the feeling of euphoria found its way onto the Royals’ chartered flight to Cleveland. They start a three game series against the Indians tonight. Adam Bernero (0-1, 36.00) goes against Paul Byrd (7-6, 4.81).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Shealy to Participate in Online Chat

Ryan Shealy is going to be available for an online chat this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Here’s a link if you are interested. I’ll post a link to the transcript tomorrow if MLB makes one available.

Sweeney Being Sweeney

Game Date: August 9, 2006
Game Score: Royals 5, Red Sox 4 / Box Score
WP: Dohmann (1-1), LP: Papelbon (3-2)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 40-73

You’ve seen him in this same situation a dozen times or more over the years and nearly every time, he produces the game winning hit. But he’s older now. He’s been out of action for three months and there’s no telling how much longer his back will hold up. The Royals aren’t playing for anything. Their season has been over since late April. And then he does it again.

A solid two-out single to left field in the bottom of the ninth that produces the first walk-off win for the Royals this season, and it all comes rushing back. The thrill of watching a professional hitter do the very thing he was born to do—even though he hasn’t done it in a long time. You see his teammates rush to gather around him in celebratory high fives and hugs. You see the Royal faithful refusing to go home because they simply want to enjoy the moment. And you hear the joy in his voice during the post game interview and you know it’s genuine. And you are happy to be a Royals fan.

Mike Sweeney will be the first to tell you that he didn’t win the game all by himself last night. If Mark Teahen doesn’t hit a two-run double in fourth inning (and then come around to score on a passed ball) and if Esteban German doesn’t lead off the ninth inning with a triple, and then score on a sacrifice fly by David DeJesus (which was a great at bat by the way), and if Mark Grudzielanek doesn’t plug the gap with two outs to set the stage for Sweeney, then we would be talking about yet another Royals loss. Instead, we’re talking about a come-from-behind win against one of the best closers in the game—Jonathan Papelbon—who hasn’t allowed more than one run in a game all season.

Mark Redman didn’t have a great night on the mound, but Todd Wellemeyer picked him up and pitched three scoreless innings of relief. And Scott Dohmann had his first solid outing as a Royal—hitting 97 on the radar gun several times, while also displaying a nasty slider that he’s able to throw just off the outside corner of the plate.

All in all, it was a great game, and the Royals have finally reached win number 40.

Tonight, the Royals send Runelvys Hernandez (2-7, 8.54) against Curt Schilling (14-4, 3.78). Hernandez is 0-0 in his career against the Red Sox with a 4.50 ERA. Schilling is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA against the Royals.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hudson Wins Again

Game Date: August 8, 2006
Game Score: Royals 6, Red Sox 4 / Box Score
WP: Hudson (5-3), LP: Lester (5-2), SV: Burgos (17)
Royal Home Runs: Brown (9)
Royals Record: 39-73

So that’s what the Royals’ line up is supposed to look like? For just the eighth time this season, David DeJesus and Mike Sweeney played in the same game. Throw in a healthy Reggie Sanders, an Emil Brown who has finally found his power stroke again, and a maturing Mark Teahen and this line up doesn’t look half bad. In fact, we actually have a “heart of the order” with Sweeney-Sanders-Teahen. We still don’t have any starting pitching, but we’ll score some runs with these guys.

Luke Hudson is the one exception. He won his third consecutive start last night to improve to 5-3 on the season. And much like his other starts, he only gave up three earned runs. In fact, in his six starts, he hasn’t given up more than three runs in any game. And his ERA has dropped from 7.24 to 4.65 since he’s become a starter. Yeah, he gave up one of the longest home runs (451 feet) in Kauffman Stadium history to Wily Mo Pena last night in the fourth inning, but he found his groove again after that and the Red Sox didn’t score off of him again. Hudson’s performance was much needed and at this point, he’s the only semblance of a stopper that we have.

At the plate last night, the Royals look much more like the patient team they were turning into a month or so ago before they starting losing again. They drew five walks and worked the count better. Mike Sweeney walked twice and went 1-for-3. Mark Grudzielanek was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Emil Brown was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI—including a towering home run to left field. And John Buck was 2-for-4.

Ambiorix Burgos almost blew the game again by walking two guys in the ninth. He added this insight after the game: “One more walk and I think it would have been, ‘Burgos, get out of here,’ “I think Buddy Bell was getting mad.” You think?

Tonight, Mark Redman (7-6 5.38) goes against Josh Beckett (13-6, 5.00). Redman is a pitiful 1-8 in his career against the Red Sox with a 7.97 ERA. He’s given up 11 home runs against them in 49.2 innings. Beckett is 1-0 against the Royals with a 0.00 ERA (in 8 innings).

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sweeney Set to Return

After being on the shelf for the last 88 games, Mike Sweeney is scheduled to be our designated hitter on Tuesday when we begin a new series against the Red Sox. In 11 rehab games with Wichita and Omaha, Sweeney is hitting .314 with 4 HR.

Twins Sweep the Royals

Game Date: August 6, 2006
Game Score: Twins 11, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Reyes (4-0), LP: Wellemeyer (0-2)
Royal Home Runs: Shealy (1)
Royals Record: 38-73

What would Royals’ fans do without a well-scheduled off day once in a while after a playing as poorly as we did in the four-game series against the Twins? An article in the Star summarized the series totals: the Royals gave up 41 runs, 56 hits, and 36 walks. That’s 10.25 runs, 14 hits, and 9 walks per game—some of the worst pitching you’ll ever see.

This is a day to forget about baseball—especially since we don’t have another off day for two weeks and before we get there, we’ll play a three-game series against the Red Sox, a four-game series against the White Sox, and a three-game series against the A’s. The only sub-.500 team we’ll see in that stretch is Cleveland.

Any positives?

Ryan Shealy hit a 422-foot home run. Grudzielanek, Sanders, Brown, Shealy, and Bako each had two hits, but none of that really matters when your pitching staff gives up 11 runs on 22 hits.

Odalis Perez was quite unimpressive: 5 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, and 1 K in 5.0 IP. He threw 93 pitches in the process. I’m amazed at how many of our starters are near the 100-pitch mark after five innings. And it has nothing to do with them being strikeout pitchers, and everything to do with them either being wild or afraid. Both or unacceptable.

Anyway, enjoy the off day.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hernandez Awful Again

Game Date: August 5, 2006
Game Score: Twins 14, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Silva (8-9), LP: Hernandez (2-7)
Royal Home Runs: DeJesus (6), Brown (8)
Royals Record: 38-72

Nine walks—six of which came around to score. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that. Runelvys Hernandez walked nine guys in 4.2 innings, and he gave up eight earned runs. His ERA now sits at 8.54. And I’m dumbfounded by Bell’s comments after that game regarding Hernandez: “Actually, Runelvys’ stuff is probably as good as I’ve seen it since I’ve been here, in terms of his velocity. He can’t get to his changeup or his breaking ball, because he can’t throw his fastball for strikes.”

Okay, so his velocity is good, but he can’t throw a strike to save his career, and that constitutes having good stuff? Wow. I think Buddy Bell just redefined “good stuff.” By his definition, we need to go out and resign Chris George, Kris Wilson, and Dan Reichert. Then we’d have four pitchers with good stuff—all of whom would have an ERA over 6.00, or 7.00, or 8.00.

Bell didn’t stop there though. He said that the Royals need to help Hernandez figure out his mechanical problem(s), and they’ll be attempting to do so over the next several starts. If you really believe that this guy has what it takes to pitch at the major league level, don’t you send him to the minor leagues to get things figured out? We’re talking about a 28 year-old pitcher who is 21-30 in his career with a 5.50 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. He clearly can’t compete at the big level on a consistent basis. Why keep running him out there, only to get shellacked, and to use up our bullpen, and to bring down team moral? Send him back to Omaha (where he wasn’t spectacular either) where he can’t do any damage. Or better yet, just release him and give a younger, more committed guy, a shot.

Hernandez wasn’t the only Royal pitcher to perform poorly last night. Scott Dohmann gave up another run and he now has a 10.38 ERA since joining the Royals. And Leo Nunez gave up three more runs and he’s another guy who just doesn’t look like he belongs in the major leagues. His pitiful career numbers make the case against him. He has a 6.99 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP in 48 appearances.

This afternoon, Odalis Perez (4-4, 6.68) makes his second start for the Royals. For our bullpen’s sake, let’s hope that he gets to throw more than 69 pitches this time. He’ll go against Mike Smith who is making his first start of the year for the Twins.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Doug Mientkiewicz's Online Chat

Doug Mientkiewicz was the latest Royal to participate in an online chat with fans. Here’s a link if you’d like to read the transcript. One fan asked him this question: “How have you enjoyed your time thus far with the Royals, record aside?”

Here is Mientkiewicz’s response: “Friends of mine always ask that. They think because of the record they think I'm miserable and that could not be further from the truth! I've enjoyed every minute of this year and would be extremely open to coming back to help this franchise stay in the positive direction it is going.”

He also spoke about his willingness to mentor Shealy and/or Huber. Check it out if you get a chance.

Burgos Blows Another Game

Game Date: August 4, 2006
Game Score: Twins 8, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Reyes (3-0), LP: Dohmann (0-1)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 38-71

This is not a recording. Ambiorix Burgos should not be a closer in the major leagues. I don’t say that because he’s wild, or because he’s unable to throw more than one pitch for a strike—although both of those statements are true. I say it because he simply can’t get guys out. His ERA is 5.64. You simply cannot give the ball to a guy to close the game out when he allows a run more than once every two innings.

If those words sound familiar, it’s because I wrote them about the game on Tuesday against the White Sox, during which Burgos blew yet another game. And how ironic is it that the last time (July 3) we had Johan Santana on the ropes, Burgos also blew that game? Well, actually it’s not all that ironic. It’s expected. He gets behind good hitters and when he grooves a fastball on 3-1 (as he did with Joe Mauer in the ninth inning), they crush it. Then he fell behind Michael Cuddyer and he hit one out of the park to tie the game 5-5. Scott Dohmann wasn’t much better. He was pounded for three runs in the top of the tenth, and that was the ball game.

This is another one of those games where it’s tough to point to the positives when so many negatives abound. Emil Brown was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Esteban German was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Ryan Shealy was 1-for-2 with an RBI and 2 BB. And John Buck drove in two runs. But it was all for naught once Bell handed the ball to Burgos—who hasn’t even been the closer all season, and yet, he still leads the major leagues in blow saves (10).

And tonight, in the era of astronomically high earned run averages, Runelvys Hernandez (2-6, 7.88) goes against Carlos Silva (7-9, 6.49). Hernandez is 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in his career against the Twins. Silva is 2-1 with a 3.55 against the Royals.

Friday, August 04, 2006

De La Rosa Hit Hard

Game Date: August 3, 2006
Game Score: Twins 8, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Radke (10-8), LP: De La Rosa (1-1)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 38-70

That was hardly the performance we were looking for from Jorge De La Rosa. He was wild (4 walks in 1.1 innings) as could be and that was all the Twins needed to jump on him early. Bell lifted De La Rosa in the second inning and after the smoke had cleared, he’d given up five earned runs—putting the Royals in a 6-0 hole. Conversely, Radke gave up just four hits in eight innings and only issued one walk, and he left little chance for the Royals to mount a comeback.

Not a lot to be positive about in this one. David DeJesus was 2-for-4 on the night and an RBI and he has his average back up to .300. And Todd Wellemeyer pitched well (except for three walks he issued) in long relief after De La Rosa faltered. Wellemeyer threw 4.1 innings and didn’t give up any earned runs. His ERA is down to 3.65.

The Royals are 7-14 since the break, which is a bit of a disappointment. They’ve played some great teams during that stretch though, including the Tigers, the Red Sox, and the White Sox. They’ve also played a couple of teams that are above .500 (the Angels and the Rangers). We just don’t match up yet with teams at the top of their divisions, but that’s really not much of a consolation for losing. Unfortunately, the Royals have a brutal schedule from here on out, but let’s hope they play a little better ball than their current .333 winning percentage since the break.

Tonight, Mark Redman (7-6, 5.40) goes against Johan Santana (12-5, 3.11). The Royals hit Santana hard (4 ER in 5.2 IP) on July 3—the last time they saw him. You might remember that game—the one where Burgos uncorked two wild pitches and blew the save. Such chances to beat Santana don’t come along often. He’s 9-3 in his career against the Royals with a 3.74 ERA. Redman is 0-3 with a 6.14 ERA against the Twins.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Royals Sign Hochevar

Well, Dayton Moore has gone and done it. He signed Luke Hochevar to a four-year major league contract—making Hochevar the fourth number one selection in the last twenty years to be awarded a spot on the 40-man roster. Other terms of the four-year deal weren’t released, but an article running on he Royals’ website says that Hochevar is “believed to have received a guaranteed $5.2 million over the length of the contract with incentives” which “could boost” the contract “to about $7 million.”

I love the fact that we finally got Hochevar signed. With the minor league baseball season set to shut down in a few weeks, at least Hochevar will get a few innings under his belt in our system. But this business of giving him a guaranteed roster spot really irritates me. The three other number one picks in the last twenty years to get such honors were Alex Rodriguez (1993), Pat Burrell (1998), and Delmon Young (2003). Rodriguez wasn’t playing fulltime for the Mariners until 1996. Burrell didn’t play at the major league level with the Phillies until 2000. And Young has put up impressive numbers in the Devil Rays farm system, but he has yet to get an at bat with Tampa Bay.

Maybe Hochevar didn’t give Moore any options. Maybe it was a guaranteed roster spot, or he’d sit out another season. If that’s true, I guess Moore made the right decision, but I still don’t like it. But now that the deal is done, let’s forget about the details. I want the guy in uniform and I want to see what he’s got. If he’s as good as he’s made out to be, our rotation may be a year or so away from finally having a legitimate ace for the first time in over a decade.

Hudson & Teahen & Shealy, Oh My

Game Date: August 2, 2006
Game Score: Royals 7, White Sox 3 / Box Score
WP: Hudson (4-3), LP: Garcia (10-7)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (13)
Royals Record: 38-69

Five solid starts in a row from Luke Hudson have me wondering if this guy might be more than just a stopgap measure in a revolving rotation. Since becoming a starter, he’s 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA and all of his starts, except for one, have been quality starts—and in the one exception, he only gave up one run in five innings. Last night he pitched seven strong innings against the White Sox and put the Royals in a position to win just before the rain started to fall.

When the rain did come, it didn’t mess around. The downpour forced a 1 hour and 46 minute rain delay, but when you win, it doesn’t matter.

In addition to Hudson’s performance, Royals’ fans had much to be happy about. Gobble, Peralta, and Nelson didn’t give up any runs in relief. Mark Teahen continued his red hot streak, going 3-for-5 with 3 RBI and a towering home run in the fifth inning that hit the right field foul pole. (Freddy Garcia tried to go inside on Mark and that just isn’t going to work right now.) David DeJesus was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Grudzielanek was 2-for-5. And Ryan Shealy was 3-for-3 with an RBI and a walk.

One player that I’m not real impressed with right now is Joey Gathright. He’s hitting .208 since coming to Kansas City and he doesn’t seem to be getting any better. He’s taken quite a few walks (14 in 31 games), so he does have an OBP of .322 with the Royals. But his speed was his selling point and he’s been thrown out while attempting to steal more often than he’s been successful (3 SB in 7 attempts). And I really haven’t seen him make any plays in centerfield that David DeJesus wouldn’t have made. But if you look at J.P. Howell’s performance the other night with Tampa Bay (3.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 H) and at his numbers over his 16 career starts (3-6 with a 6.60 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP), I guess the trade doesn’t look that bad.

Tonight, the Royals open a new series at home with the Twins. Jorge De La Rosa (3-2, 7.68) will make his second start since joining the Royals. He’ll go against Brad Radke (9-8, 4.91). Radke is 11-10 with a 4.28 ERA in his career against the Royals. De La Rosa has never started against the Twins.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Royals Lose in 10

Game Date: August 1, 2006
Game Score: White Sox 7, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Riske (1-2), LP: Burgos (2-4), SV: Jenks (29)
Royal Home Runs: Sanders (10), Berroa (7)
Royals Record: 37-69

This is not a recording. Ambiorix Burgos should not be a closer in the major leagues. I don’t say that because he’s wild, or because he’s unable to throw more than one pitch for a strike—although both of those statements are true. I say it because he simply can’t get guys out. His ERA is 5.40. You simply cannot give the ball to a guy to close the game out when he allows a run more than once every two innings.

After the Royals rallied in the eighth inning to tie the game 4-4, Burgos came in for the ninth and got the job done. Unfortunately, he walked Scott Podsednik to lead off the tenth inning and then balked to move Podsednik to second base. Joe Crede singled him in. Burgos got the next two guys, but Ross Gload doubled and drove in Crede. Brian Anderson followed him with another run scoring hit and this one was over. Well, actually Angel Berroa hit a home run in the bottom of the inning, but we couldn’t get a rally going.

We had our chances early in the game though. We had runners at the corners with one out in the second inning and Angel Berroa hit into a double play. Then, in the eighth inning, we had runners at the corners again with one out and this time Emil Brown hit into a double play.

On the positive side, Mark Teahen continues his tear. He as 3-for-5 with 2 RBI and he’s as locked in as a guy can be. He’s hitting the ball to all fields and pitchers don’t seem to have a clue how to get him out. They used to bust him inside and he’s all over that now. Then, in recent weeks, they started pitching him outside, and he’s driving that ball down the left field line—much like he did last night. Reggie Sanders had two hits in is return, including his tenth home run of the season in his first at bat.

Odalis Perez started out pretty well—striking out two guys in the first inning, but he looked a little rusty (he hasn’t started since June 28) and he was working on a ridiculously low pitch count—so he exited after throwing just 69 pitches in four innings. He gave up two earned runs on three hits and two walks. The one thing I’ll say about him is this—he seems to trust his pitches. He wasn’t afraid to throw his cutter over the plate to Jermaine Dye in the first inning and he ended up striking him out. His four-seamer comes in at around 91-92 mph and his breaking stuff was in the 78-80 range. That’s a big enough difference to keep hitters off balance. So, I’m anxious to see how he does in his next start.

Tonight, Luke Hudson (3-3, 4.82) goes against Freddy Garcia (10-6, 4.85). Garcia is 8-7 in his career against the Royals with a 5.63 ERA. Hudson has never started against the White Sox.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

CNNSI: 'Moore Gets It' says that the Royals were “winners” at the trading deadline. Here’s what they say: “Dayton Moore has been a GM for all of five minutes, and he already gets it. The Schuerholz protégé showed he already knows how to hold a selloff (a necessity for a Royals exec) and topped it all off by landing Rockies first-base prospect Ryan Shealy, who was coveted by the Yankees and the Red Sox and who, according to one AL scout, is "Kevin Youkilis with big power.''

Honorable Mention

The Royals got “honorable mention” in the “winner” category at regarding their recent trades. Here’s what they said: “New GM Dayton Moore made five trades in the final eight days before the deadline, acquiring young pitching in almost all of them. Two players he did not move, second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and left-hander Mark Redman, might clear waivers in August.”

Diaz was 'Expendable'

How about this for a little perspective from the Rangers website regarding the Diaz for Stairs trade:

“Both Chavez and Diaz were considered expendable, and [Rangers GM Jon] Daniels expressed relief and satisfaction that the Rangers were able to add to their Major League team without having to give up some of their best young prospects, including shortstop Joaquin Arias and pitchers John Danks, Thomas Diamond and Edinson Volquez. That was the goal, to improve the team now without hurting the future.”

I’m guessing that the Rangers wouldn’t have given us one of their prized pitching prospects for Matt Stairs, and Daniels is probably just saying what all general managers say after trading for a veteran at the end of his career—in that, they didn’t have to give up much to get him, but it’s still a little irritating to see in print, isn’t it?

The Trades

I don’t have a lot of in depth analysis to give you regarding the recent trades, but I will say that I’m optimistic because Dayton Moore is focused on getting good young arms, and based on his experience in Atlanta, he’s bound to be good at evaluating such things.

My only concern is that by trading away guys like Graffanino, Stairs, and Affeldt, is that we leave a void in the clubhouse. These guys have been around long enough to get the full baseball experience—the losing streaks, the winning streaks, the slumps, the hot streaks, the changing of managers, and the changing of general managers, the continual stream of trade rumors, and the criticisms of fans. All of that experience allows them to mentor younger players who have not had the same range of experience.

With that said, we’ve still got Grudzielanek, Mientkiewicz, Sanders, Sweeney, Elarton and Redman, but think about it. Elarton and Redman are really the only experienced pitchers we have, and both of them have only been with the team for half a season, and Elarton is probably done for the season. (Perez has quite a bit of major league experience, but from all I can tell, he’s got some issues to deal with.) I wouldn’t be surprised if Grudzielanek gets traded, even though the deadline has already passed. Mientkiewicz seems to be a great leader, but his days seem to be numbered with the acquisition of Ryan Shealy and with Justin Huber waiting in Omaha. Sanders and Sweeney are both hurt so often that they can’t be available as much as the young guys probably need them to be.

And that leaves us with a team full of guys who aren’t going to have many experienced veterans to turn to, or to correct them when necessary. I’m all for getting good young talent, but I think teams always need to keep a good mix of veterans around as well.

Hernandez Hit Hard

Game Date: July 31, 2006
Game Score: White Sox 8, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Contreras (10-3), LP: Hernandez (2-6)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 37-68

I kept waiting for Bell to throw in the towel. Runelvys Hernandez was getting beat down so far that he may never recover. But Bell let the beating continue—maybe to prove a point about Hernandez’s poor conditioning, or maybe, since Bell’s options were limited, he wanted to see if Runelvys had what it takes to fight his way out of trouble. Whatever the case, it didn’t work.

Hernandez gave up three runs in the first inning on three hits, two walks, and two balks. And then the White Sox brought out the whupping stick and hit three home runs over the next two innings off Hernandez. Alex Cintron, Jermaine Dye, and Joe Crede all went yard. Hernandez’s fastball had almost no life to it. His velocity was up in the 92-93 mph range, but it just didn’t move and his control was awful. He paid the price. His ERA now stands at 7.88 and I can’t help but wonder if maybe the Runelvys Hernandez experiment is about to come to an end in Kansas City.

Unfortunately, Hernandez put the Royals so deep in the hole that they couldn’t get back out of it. They got some good swings against Contreras (who had a ton of life on his fastball). Grudzielanek and Brown both had two hits off of him. Mark Teahen walked twice against him. But they never could come up with the big hit when they needed it. In the second inning, with one out and two runs in, Gathright grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. In the second inning, with two outs and the bases loaded, Shane Costa popped up to third. If we could have taken advantage of one of those situations, the outcome might have been different.

Tonight, our line up should look a little more solid. Newly acquired first baseman Ryan Shealy will surely be playing first. And Reggie Sanders is set to return. Scott Dohmann showed up at Kauffman Stadium last night during the game, so he should be available if necessary tonight. And of course, Odalis Perez takes the mound for the first time in Royal blue. Should be a fun game to watch.

Perez is 4-4 with a 6.83 ERA. He’ll face Mark Buehrle who is 9-9 with a 4.81 ERA. Buehrle has made a career out of facing the Royals. He’s 13-6 against us lifetime with 3.24 ERA.
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