Game Date: April 2, 2007
Royals 7, Red Sox 1 / Box Score
WP: Meche (1-0), LP: Schilling (0-1)
Royal Home Runs: John Buck (1)
Royals Record: 1-0
As Gil Meche strode off the mound in the eighth inning to a thunderous standing ovation, I couldn’t help but wonder about the look on Dayton Moore’s face as he sat watching in his VIP box. Surely one fantastic outing doesn’t make a $55 million contract, but I’m guessing that Moore was at least giving a nod of approval as Meche tipped his cap to the crowd. I doubt that anybody expected Meche to pitch into the eighth inning. He gave up just one earned run on six hits and a walk.
His fastball had life. It didn’t hurt that he hit 96 mph on the gun. He threw his breaking pitches for strikes. And he kept the ball down—which was a good thing given the ferocious wind that was blowing out to left field. I think I was most impressed with his ability to stop the bleeding in the first inning after giving up a run. How many times have we seen Royals pitchers in the past lose focus after giving up a couple of hits early?
Unfortunately, ESPN decided to black out the game in Omaha—which makes no sense whatsoever. I live 200 miles from the stadium. And it was completely sold out. What in the world is MLB doing blacking out a game like that? Sometimes I think that MLB executives do more harm to the game than they do good. If people want to consume your product, you do everything in your power to make sure they have access to it, you certainly don’t block access.
But even over the radio, I could feel the excitement in the air when Alex Gordon approached the plate for the first time in his major league career. Bases were loaded with one out. Surely, everybody was thinking, “How cool would it be if he hit a grand slam home run in his first at bat ever?” I was sort of thinking that, but I was also thinking, “The Royals are down 1-0, I hope that he figures out how to get the guy in from third.” Unfortunately Curt Schilling got the best of him and struck him out with a splitter in the dirt. That could have been a huge turning point in the game, but Ryan Shealy had a great at bat and he picked up his first RBI of the season by drawing a walk. The game was tied 1-1 after the first inning.
Then we got to see a little unexpected excitement from the bat of Tony Pena. He tripled in the second inning with one out. And after David DeJesus failed to get him home, Mark Grudzielanek drove him in with a single. In the fourth inning, John Buck doubled with one out and Pena drew a walk (remember how long it took Angel Berroa to draw his first walk last season?). After DeJesus flew out to center, Grudzielanek came through again, this time with a two-run double. Then Teahen singled in a run and the Royals were up 5-1.
While Curt Schilling was done after four innings, Meche continued to cruise and the Royals continued to score. Buck homered in the sixth and Pena tripled in a run in the eighth.
The Royals didn’t make any errors in the field and Pena made a great play in the fifth inning. Teahen still seems to be trying to get settled in the outfield. His first step doesn’t seem to be the surest, but I’m surprised at his ability to adapt as quickly as he has.
Joel Peralta came in and closed the door on the Red Sox, going the final 1.2 innings, giving up two hits and striking out four.
This one had to be a confidence builder for the Royals. Now let’s see what they can do on Wednesday night against the Red Sox. Odalis Perez is scheduled to pitch against Josh Beckett.