Thursday, September 27, 2007

Garland Returns the Favor

Game Date: September 26, 2007
White Sox 3, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (7-7), LP: Garland (10-13)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 68-90

Zack Greinke gave up two home runs in the first four innings last night and that's all Jon Garland needed. In a reversal of the pitching match up that took place last week, in which Greinke got the better end of the deal, Garland was downright tough on the Royals last night. He gave up just three hits and two walks in nine innings. And he threw just 106 pitches. Hard to imagine how this guy has a 10-13 record. But that's what happens when you play for a bad team.

That team happens to be a game a head of the Royals now in the AL Central with just four games remaining. I still think the Royals need to win two more games (brining their season total to 70 wins) for this season to feel like an improvement. Let's hope they can make it happen.

Tonight, Billy Buckner (1-1, 4.50) will go up against Lance Broadway (0-1, 2.08). Buckner has never raced the White Sox. Broadway has never faced the Royals.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bonds in Royal Blue?

With the Royals 7-2 loss in Detroit yesterday they lost the series, keeping their streak of not winning a single series in September alive. They only need three wins though in their final seven games to have a 70-win season. Fortunately, they'll be facing teams like the White Sox, the Orioles, and an Indians team who already has the division wrapped up and will surely be resting players during the final series of the regular season.

Now that Jorge De La Rosa is back, it means one less start for Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke, but that's okay. Bannister is already nearing 200 innings (including the minor leagues) and Greinke seems to have shown that he's a legitimate starter heading into next season. De La Rosa on the other hand is probably far from a lock in the rotation next season. He hasn't proven himself at the major league level yet and I'm not all that sure he ever will.

Did you have a chance to read Bob Dutton's column in the Star on Saturday about the possibility of Barry Bonds signing with the Royals for 2008? It's not likely, but it makes a lot of sense. The Royals have the cash (with more than $30 million coming off the books after this season) and they desperately need someone who can drive in runs. Bonds seems like he'd be the perfect stopgap until Butler, Gordon, and maybe even Teahen reach their full potential. Can you imagine how many walks Bonds would have in Royal blue? Butler would probably be his protection and he'd be hitting quite often with Bonds standing on first.

The Royals play a make up game tonight in Baltimore. Gil Meche (9-12, 3.70) will go against Daniel Cabrera (9-17, 5.51). Meche is 4-3 against the Orioles in his career with a 2.90 ERA. Cabrera is 3-0 against the Royals with a 2.89 ERA.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Greinke Dominates the White Sox

Game Date: September 19, 2007
Royals 3, White Sox 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (7-6), LP: Garland (9-13), SV: Soria (17)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 66-86

Remember what I said about not getting too high when things go well? Kinda hard to do after seeing what Zack Greinke did today, isn't it? Wow. Eight shutout innings. Two hits. A career high ten strikeouts. An electric fastball in the mid-90's. Breaking balls at the knees. And the occasional looping curve ball. Good luck when he's pitching like that. It seems like he's finally confident enough to throw his fastball as his dominant pitch. And that's nice to see.

Jon Garland wasn't bad either. But the Royals did manage to score three runs against him in eight innings. Tony Pena doubled in the first run in the sixth inning, after failing to get a bunt down. That's not the first time that's happened this year. Esteban German hit a sacrifice fly in the same inning to score Pena. And Pena hit a sacrifice fly in the eight to score Joey Gathright.

The small crowd of just 10,264 at Kauffman Stadium was treated to an old fashioned pitchers duel that lasted just one hour and fifty-five minutes. I love to watch games like this, especially since they happen so infrequently now.

Tomorrow night, the Royals begin a new series in Detroit. Billy Buckner (1-1, 4.30) will go up against Jair Jurrjens (3-1, 2.84). Buckner is 0-0 in his career against the Tigers with a 0-00 ERA in 2.2 innings of work. Jurrjens has never faced the Royals.

Contreras Too Much

Game Date: September 19, 2007
White Sox 7, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Contreras (10-16), LP: Bannister (12-9)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 65-86

Jose Contreras located everything last night. Brian Bannister did not. Contreras threw a five-hit shutout. Bannister gave up six earned runs in just five innings. That's three straight starts without a win for Bannister, but his numbers are still better than anybody else's in the rotation.

The baseball season is a long one and it's always a good idea to try to avoid getting too high during the good times and too down during the bad. The Royals are in a bad stretch right now, but much of that could be forgotten if they played .500 ball from here on out over the final ten games. That would give them 70 wins and a bit of respectability. In my opinion, 69 wins or less won't cut it.

This afternoon, Zack Greinke (6-6, 3.88) will go against Jon Garland (9-12, 4.47). Greinke is 1-5 in his career against the White Sox with a 4.67 ERA. Garland is 15-5 against the Royals with a 3.72 ERA.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three is Enough for Meche

Game Date: September 19, 2007
Royals 3, White Sox 2 / Box Score
WP: Meche (9-12), LP: Floyd (1-4), SV: Soria (16)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 65-85

The Royals jumped on Gavin Floyd in the first inning, and it was a good thing they did because they didn't score another run after that. David DeJesus opened the inning with a single. Mark Grudzielanek singled. Ross Gload doubled in both guys. And then Billy Butler doubled in Grud to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.

That was enough for Gil Meche.

Meche gave up just one earned run in seven innings (108 pitches), striking out five and walking two. For the first time in his career, he's climbed over the 200-inning mark in a season. He's walked far fewer guys than last year (59 as compared to 84 last season). His 3.70 ERA is a career best. And he should end up with more strikeouts this season than in any other. His run support has been awful this season (3.97 per nine innings), but if you look at his career record (64-56), you get the feeling that he's turning a corner and is about to graduate from an average pitcher to a good one.

It was nice to see the bullpen pick him up last night. The combination of Jimmy Gobble, Joel Peralta, John Bale, and Joakim Soria completed the final two innings without allowing one runs.

Tonight, Brian Bannister (12-8, 3.39) will go against Jose Contreras (9-16, 5.81). Bannister is 2-0 in his career against the White Sox with a 3.12 ERA. Contreras is 7-4 against the Royals with a 3.61 ERA.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fifth Inning Collapse Leads to Loss

Game Date: September 18, 2007
White Sox 11, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Vazquez (13-8), LP: Davies (2-6), 
Royal Home Runs: Gordon (15), Butler (7)
Royals Record: 64-85

Kyle Davies was hit so hard yesterday that he thought the White Sox might be going Bill Belichick on him. Then in the fifth inning he purposely threw a pitch up and in to Jermaine Dye after John Buck called for a pitch down and away. Dye hit the pitch over the center field wall anyway. Before the inning was over, the White Sox scored eleven times. And it wasn't due to errors. They had ten hits in the fifth inning as well.

Davies wasn't the only pitcher responsible though. Brandon Duckworth gave up five earned runs in the fifth. And as you might imagine, the Royals never recovered.

If you're looking for a silver lining, Luke Hochevar threw 3.1 innings of scoreless ball to keep his ERA at 0.00. He also has a rather impressive 1.26 WHIP after just two outings. Alex Gordon hit his 15th home run of the season, but if the truth were told, most Royals' fans expected him to be closer to the 30 mark by now. Billy Butler hit his seventh home run.

But it's impossible to overlook the debacle that occurred in the fifth inning. And it's getting harder to overlook how poorly the Royals are playing to finish the season. They've won just two out of their last twelve games and they are 4-11 this month.

Tonight, Gil Meche (8-12, 3.78) goes against Gavin Floyd (1-3, 5.79). Meche is 5-2 in his career against the White Sox with a 4.41 ERA. Floyd is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two innings of work.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Buckner Gets First Win

Game Date: September 16, 2007
Royals 4, Indians 3 / Box Score
WP: Buckner (1-1), LP: Laffey (3-2), SV: Soria (15)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 64-84

Billy Buckner gave the Royals a much needed boost this afternoon by pitching six solid innings, giving up just one earned run on five hits. He was pitching well enough that Buddy Bell wanted to send him back out for the seventh inning, even though Buckner had thrown 98 pitches, but the Royals had a lengthy at bat in the top half of the inning, so Bell choose to go to the bullpen.

Hard to argue with the decision, especially given the way the pen has pitched this year. But John Bale nearly coughed up the lead by giving up two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

The Royals jumped out to an early lead when Emil Brown singled in Billy Butler in the second inning. And then, in the same inning, John Buck hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Alex Gordon and give the Royals a 2-0 lead. Brown drove in another run in the sixth inning before the Indians began to claw their way back into the game. But Soria picked up his fifteenth save and Buckner had his first major lead win. Hopefully it's the first of many.

Tomorrow night, the Royals begin a new series at home against the White Sox. Kyle Davies (2-5, 5.65) will go against Javier Vazquez (12-8, 3.90). Davies has never faced the White Sox. Vazquez is 5-2 in his career against the Royals with a 2.80 ERA.

Carmona Dominates the Royals

Game Date: September 15, 2007
Indians 6, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Carmona (17-8), LP: Greinke (6-6)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 63-84

Mix together a starting pitcher who is a rookie phenom on a team that is vying for a division title with a Royals team that is about to throw away everything they've worked so hard for this season (a respectable record) and you get another loss in September in which we weren't even in the game. The Royals managed just three hits, didn't walk once, and struck out twelve times. They also made three errors in the field.

Maybe the players' minds were in the same place (not in the game) that Jonathan Papelbon's was the other night as he was getting shelled by the evil Yankees in Boston a couple of nights ago. But let's not go there.

Zack Greinke did pitch into the sixth inning (103 pitches), allowing just one earned run, but he walked five guys in the process. He seemed to be enamored by the way Fausto Carmona pitched. Here's what he said after the game: "Just watching him pitch, he would've have shut anybody out on any given day even when they're swinging their best. That's how good he was today." That may be true, but I'm pretty sure I heard similar statements throughout April and into early May from the Royals, so I've grown a bit tired of it.

This afternoon, Billy Buckner (0-1, 5.29) will go against Aaron Laffey (3-1, 5.29). Buckner is 0-0 in his career against the Indians with a 1.80 ERA in five innings of work. Laffey is 1-0 against the Royals with a 3.00 in six innings.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Indians Come from Behind

Game Date: September 14, 2007
Indians 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Borowski (4-5), LP: Riske (1-4)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 63-83

Didn't get a chance to see this one, but looking at the line score tells me that it was a heart-breaker. The Indians scored four runs in the final four innings to come from behind and win by one run. All this after Brian Bannister pitched so well to start the game. Joel Peralta, John Bale, and David Riske pitched poorly in relief, dishing out four hits, two walks, and four runs over the final three innings.

Tonight, Zack Greinke (6-5, 3.99) will go up against Fausto Carmona (16-8, 3.20). Greinke is 3-5 against the Indians with a 4.39 ERA. Carmona is 2-0 against the Royals with a 3.77 ERA.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Meche Ends the Losing Streak

Game Date: September 12, 2007
Royals 6, Twins 3 / Box Score
WP: Meche (8-12), LP: Silva (11-14)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (7), DeJesus (7)
Royals Record: 63-82

Fittingly, Gil Meche gave the Royals win number 63 this season, moving them past the total number of wins during their disastrous 2006 season. He was brought in to win, and to lead, and to eat innings, and to stop losing streaks. While Brian Bannister has stolen the show in most of those departments, Meche came up big this afternoon. He pitched into the seventh inning, giving up just two earned runs on five hits and he left the game with many of the 10,102 fans in attendance cheering his performance.

The Royals got things going in the first inning. With one out, Mark Grudzielanek singled to left. Mark Teahen doubled to left center. And Billy Butler singled in Grud. Ross Gload hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Teahen and the Royals were up 2-0. They scored another run in the second inning and another in the fourth when Teahen homered to right field.

Four runs of support in just four innings must have looked like a dozen to Gil Meche, who has been getting next to no run support in recent outings. After Meche started to falter in the seventh, David Riske came in and finished out the inning without allowing any more damage. Joakim Soria gave up a run in the ninth, but it was harmless.

The Royals have an off day tomorrow and they'll open a new series in Cleveland on Friday night. Brian Bannister (12-8, 3.46) is set to go against C.C. Sabathia (17-7, 3.15). Bannister is 1-0 against the Indians in his career with a 0.00 ERA (in seven innings of work). Sabathia is 12-8 against the Royals with a 3.29 ERA.

Musser Breaks Finger

Obviously the tensions are mounting inside the Royals clubhouse during this losing streak. Neal Musser punched a chair after a bad relief outing on Monday night and he broke the pinky finger on his right hand. He's wearing a cast now and is done for the season.

Punching a chair is a bit foolish, but I have to be honest and say that it's nice to see that guys still care. I hate seeing indifference when a team is losing.

Losing Streak Reaches Seven

Game Date: September 11, 2007
Twins 6, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Baker (9-7), LP: Davies (2-5), SV: Nathan (32)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 62-82

Talk about limping to the finish line. With just a little over two weeks left, it looks like the Royals have ran out of gas and are going to have to push the team across the finish line. Nobody really wants to say it, but this team looks a lot like the version from earlier this season that couldn't seem to do anything right.

Last night, the Royals committed two errors and they played a part in three of the runs that Twins scored. Kyle Davies walked too many guys (three in five innings). And even though the Royals had 13 hits, they only managed to score three runs. Oh, and the bullpen couldn't hold the lead either. And one more thing, the Royals have now lost seven in a row, matching their longest losing streak of the season. There's more, but you get the idea.

On the bright side (yes it was hard to find), Alex Gordon was 4-for-4 with a walk and he raised his average to a nearly respectable .258. Mark Grudzielanek was 2-for-5. So was David DeJesus.

This afternoon, the Royals will try to end their losing streak by sending Gil Meche (7-12, 3.82) to the mound against Carlos Silva (11-13, 4.34). Meche is 5-3 in his career against the Twins with a 4.19 ERA. Silva is 5-2 against the Royals with a 3.99 ERA.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Losing Streak Continues

Game Date: September 10, 2007
Twins 4, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Bonser (7-12), LP: Buckner (0-1), SV: Nathan (31)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 62-81

The Royals dropped their sixth straight game last night. Nobody seems to be panicking. Buddy Bell seems more focused on the little things. Like Jason Kubel's third at bat against Royals' rookie starter Billy Buckner. Kubel had two doubles in his first two at bats, but Buckner struck him out the third time through the order and that pleased Bell.

I guess it's something. But Buckner walked too many guys (five). Bell later said that it was typical for a young guy to be pitching away from contact. It might be typical, but wouldn't it be nice if he learned enough in the minor leagues to be atypical by the time he reached the big leagues?

Unfortunately, we couldn't put enough runs on the board to save Buckner against Boof Bonser, even though Bonser had only one win in his previous 15 starts. The Royals did manage to get nine hits for the game, but they also stranded ten runners.

All in all, not a great game for the boys in blue. And yes, they are still sitting on 62 wins, which means they need one more to make sure they don't lose 100 games again this season.

Tonight, Kyle Davies (2-4, 5.97) will go up against the Scott Baker (8-7, 4.14). I wonder if our fans will boo him since he came so close to throwing a no-hitter against us recently in the same fashion Twins fans booed Mike Sweeney for breaking it up? We'll see. Davies is 2-1 in his career against the Twins with a 4.11 ERA. Baker is 2-2 against the Royals with a 2.50 ERA.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Yankees Sweep the Royals

Game Date: September 9, 2007
Yankees 6, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Wang (18-6), LP: Duckworth (2-5), SV: Rivera (25)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 62-80

For a brief moment, it looked like the Royals might actually win a game against the evil Yankees. Or at least compete for one. Alex Gordon ripped a double down the right field line in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and all three runners scored to tied the game 3-3. Unfortunately, by then Zack Greinke had already run out of gas (after throwing 90 pitches in just 3.2 innings) and Brandon Duckworth surrendered the lead the next inning. Actually John Bale surrendered the lead, but the runners were Duckworth's responsibility.

The Royals have lost six of the eight games they've played in September. They aren't going to lose 100 games again this season (assuming they don't lose the final 20 games of the season), and now that we're over that hump, wouldn't it be nice to see them win 74 or 75 games? With 20 games remaining, 11 of them are against teams that are not playing well right now (Minnesota, Chicago, and Baltimore). The Royals should at least break the 70 barrier--assuming they can shake off the funk they are in after the evil-Yankee series.

Tonight, the Royals begin a new series at home against the Twins. Billy Buckner (0-0, 5.40) goes against Boof Bonser. Buckner has never faced the Twins. Bonser is 1-4 in his career against the Royals with a 4.87 ERA. RSTN isn't carrying any of the games in this series, so unless you can make it out the park, you'll have to tune in the old fashioned way--by radio.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hochevar Makes Major League Debut

Game Date: September 8, 2007
Yankees 11, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Pettitte (13-8), LP: Bannister (12-8)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 62-79

One more game left this season with the evil Yankees. It can't get over quickly enough for my taste.

I didn't get a chance to listen to the game last night, but a quick look at the line score tells you everything you need to know. A-Rod went nuts, hitting two home runs. Brian Bannister was hit hard (seven runs in five innings). And Ryan Braun was hit even harder (four runs in one inning).

But one bright spot did exist.

Luke Hochevar made his major league debut, throwing three scoreless innings, giving up three hits and one walk. That was nice to see. He said that he had trouble locating his breaking pitches which reduced him to having to rely solely on his fastball. Not a bad outing for having such a huge problem with command.

This afternoon, Zack Greinke (6-5, 3.87) will go up against Chien-Ming Wang (17-6, 3.68). Greinke is 1-2 in his career against the evil Yankees with a 8.38 ERA. Wang is 3-0 against the Royals with a 4.83 ERA.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Meche Can't Buy a Break

Game Date: September 7, 2007
Yankees 3, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Farnsworth (2-1), LP: Musser (0-1), SV: Rivera (24)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 62-78

Gil Meche was good again last night. Just not good enough. He gave up two earned runs in six innings. But when Neal Musser served up a double to Bobby Abreu in the seventh inning to drive in Derek Jeter, the evil Yankees scored what turned out to be the winning run. In case you are wondering, Gil Meche has received the lowest run support in the American League this season. If you look at his last six starts, he gave up three runs once and two runs five times and he still doesn't have a win to show for it.

That's how baseball works sometimes.

Unfortunately, there's more bad news. The evil Yankees have won seven out of eight games against the Royals this season and they are 44-12 over the last 56 games they've played against each other.

Tonight, Brian Bannister (12-7, 3.16) will try to play the role of stopper again. He'll go up against Andy Pettitte (12-8, 3.82). Bannister has never faced the evil Yankees. Pettitte is 10-3 in his career against the Royals with a 3.17 ERA.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sweeney Nominated for Clemente Award

Mike Sweeney has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award which will be awarded during the World Series. The award "recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team."

Sweeney has been active in the Kansas City community for a long time. He's involved in crisis pregnancy center work. He paid $100,000 for a dirt field that was formerly used to buy and sell drugs in downtown Kansas City and transformed it into a baseball field. He does work in support of Children's Mercy Hospital, the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City, and the Kansas City FCA. He's teamed up with Garth Brooks in the Teammates for Kids Foundation. He co-hosts an annual charity golf tournament in Kansas City each year with Tony Richardson. On and on it goes.

This year, fans get to participate in the process of selecting the winner of the Clemente award. Click here to cast your vote.

Mistakes Costly Again

Game Date: September 5, 2007
Rangers 3, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Padilla (5-9), LP: Davies (2-4), SV: Benoit (3)
Royal Home Runs: Buck (18)
Royals Record: 62-77

The perils of a young team are many. One of which includes physical errors. Another of which includes mental lapses.

With the Royals down 1-0, Kyle Davies threw over to first base to keep Frank Catalanotto close. It wasn't a good throw, but it wasn't the worst you'll ever see. Unfortunately, Billy Butler was playing first base and he couldn't make the catch. An error that proved costly when Michael Young singled Catalanotto in to make it 2-0. The next inning, a ball got through John Buck's legs on a throw home from Joey Gathright, allowing Brad Wilkerson to score. If that weren't enough, Alex Gordon got picked off first base in the eighth with the Royals down 3-2.

On a positive note, at least Buddy Bell isn't just punching the clock to wind down his final few weeks as the Royals manager. Here's what he had to say after the game: "You can't show up for 150 games. You have to show up for 162. That was terrible. This is a long season, and the guys have to learn that if you don't show up for every game, you are going to get hammered, you are going to get embarrassed."

That's pretty much what happened.

Kyle Davies had a decent outing, giving up one earned run in five innings. I don't like the fact that he had to throw 87 pitches to do it, but at least he got the job done. Over the final three innings, the combination of John Bale, Ryan Braun, and Joakim Soria gave up an earned run, but this loss had little do with our pitching. Unfortunately this loss cost the Royals a winning road trip (they finished 3-4).

Today is an off day. Tomorrow night, the Royals will begin a new home series against the evil Yankees. Gil Meche (7-12, 3.85) will go against Ian Kennedy (1-0, 1.29). Meche is 3-4 against the evil Yankees in his career with a 4.80 ERA. Kennedy has never faced the Royals.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dayton Moore Chat Transcript

If you'd like to read the transcript of the Dayton Moore online chat with fans yesterday, here's a link.

I especially found Moore's answer to this question by "cmkeller71" to be rather quotable: "Did your mentor John Schuerholz influence you in one way or another to take the job in Kansas City?"

Moore: No. We made a decision to come to Kansas City based on the opportunity to do something special. At the time this was the greatest challenge in all of sports. We looked at it as an opportunity to build something great.

Error Costly in Loss

Game Date: September 4, 2007
Rangers 9, Royals 8 / Box Score
WP: Rheinecker (2-1), LP: Nunez (2-3), SV: Wilson (11)
Royal Home Runs: Smith (5)
Royals Record: 62-76

What a difference a day makes, huh?

The Royals lost Ross Gload when he hyperextended his knee in the eighth inning while sliding into second base. Billy Buckner's first start was a bit of a disaster (6 ER in 4.0 innings). He was often behind hitters and he left too many pitches up in the zone. The Royals still found themselves tied 6-6 going into the seventh, but a bad throw by Jason LaRue and a non-catch by Alex Gordon at third set the stage for a Ranger win. The Royals scored single runs in the eight and the ninth, but fell one run short.

Several guys had big days at the plate. Mark Grudzielanek was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Mike Sweeney was 3-for-5 with an RBI. And Mark Teahen was 2-for-4 with an RBI. The Royals even drew six walks. Unfortunately, the pitching just didn't hold up. Leo Nunez got saddled with the loss after giving up two earned runs in just a third of an inning. And Jimmy Gobble gave up a run in 1.1 innings of work.

Tonight, Kyle Davies (2-3, 6.75) goes against Vicente Padilla (4-9, 6.36). Davies is 0-2 against the Rangers in his career with a 12.27 ERA. Padilla is 0-1 against the Royals with a 7.27 ERA.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dayton Moore: Online Chat

Royals GM Dayton Moore will be conducting an online chat with fans at 2:00 PM Central this afternoon. Here's a link if you are interested in attending. Note: You have to be registered at (it's free) to participate.

Greinke Sharp in Win

Game Date: September 3, 2007
Royals 8, Rangers 1 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (6-5), LP: Loe (6-11)
Royal Home Runs: Gload (7)
Royals Record: 62-75

So much went right with the game last night that it's difficult to pinpoint just a few areas for discussion. Zack Greinke, who was on an 80-pitch limit, finally made it through five innings to pick up a win. He had "ace-like stuff" in route to his sixth win of the season. He said he was tired, but he still felt like he had a little left. If Greinke can successfully make the transition back to the rotation, as it appears he's going to do, it'll give the Royals three tough starters (Brian Bannister and Gil Meche being the other two) going into 2008--which may give us the best rotation we've had since the 80's.

Alex Gordon continues to swing a hot bat. He was 3-for-6 with 4 RBI. He's raised his batting average to .252 and he has 14 HR and 54 RBI. His overall numbers won't generate talk about rookie of the year as so many hoped when the season started, but he was mentally tough enough to withstand a horrendous start to his major league career and he appears to have turned a corner. He still strikes out way too often (116 times) and draws too few walks (36) for a guy who is supposed to have a good understanding of the strike zone. But I suspect he'll continue to improve.

Ross Gload was 3-for-6 last night with a home run and 2 RBI. He's now hitting. 304 and I would think that he'd give Dayton Moore another option for 2008 at first base to spell relief for Billy Butler if the Royals decide to resign Mike Sweeney. Gload is only under contract through 2007, but at $625,000 (his 2007 salary), he seems like a steal. I'm guessing that Buddy Bell would agree since he called him "our best player for awhile now" after the game yesterday. I'm not sure that I would agree, but he's a good guy to have on the team.

Mark Teahen came back from the DL with a vengeance, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Teahen's lack of power this season has been a mystery (he has just 6 HR this season in 120 games compared to 18 HR last season in just 109 games), but he continues to hit for average (.288 this season, compared to .290 last season), and his on-base percentage is similar to last season (.355 this season, compared to .357 last season). I'm not sure that a team should have a starting right fielder who is probably going to have less than 10 home runs in a season though. Let's hope he figures out the power thing during the offseason.

Tonight, Billy Buckner (0-0, 1.17) will get his first major league start. He'll go against Kevin Millwood (9-11, 5.11). Millwood is 4-3 against the Royals in his career with a 3.92 ERA.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Royals and Twins Split

Game Date: September 2, 2007
Royals 8, Twins 1 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (12-7), LP: Bonser (6-12)
Royal Home Runs: Gordon 2 (14), Buck (17)
Royals Record: 61-75

On paper, Gil Meche is the ace and the much hoped for stopper on this ball club. In reality, Brian Bannister has taken over both rolls. He won his fourth straight game last night in dominating fashion, going eight strong innings and give up just one earned run. He's 7-2 in his last 10 starts and he's 8-3 when following a Royals' loss this season. Buddy Bell is calling him "the best pitcher I've ever been around." And with an ERA nearing the two's, he has to be a legitimate candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year award.

After the game, Torii Hunter talked about how good Bannister was, and in the process, he took an underhanded swipe at the Royals: "Bannister is good. You guys don’t realize that. Just because he’s with the Royals doesn’t mean he’s no good. He throws cutters away, fastballs in, he mixes his pitches well. He hits his spot. He knows where his pitches are going. His dad is Floyd Bannister, so I think he knows what he’s doing."

Did you have a chance to see Alex Gordon's home run in the second inning? It was a monster-shot to the upper deck in right field at the Metrodome. If you close your eyes and let your imagine run wild, it might just remind you of a couple of George Brett's famous dingers. Just one inning later, Gordon went deep again, giving Bannister a 6-0 lead, which was more than enough. Every Royal in the line up had at least one hit (they had 16 total). Ross Gload and Tony Pena had two hits. And Shane Costa and John Buck had three.

The Royals begin a new series in Texas tonight. Zack Greinke (5-5, 4.07) will go against Kameron Loe (6-10, 5.35). Greinke is 1-2 in his career against the Rangers with a 5.48 ERA. Loe is 0-1 against the Royals with a 12.60 ERA.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Royals Drop Another One in Minnesota

Game Date: September 1, 2007
Twins 6, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Silva (11-13), LP: Duckworth (2-4), SV: Nathan (29)
Royal Home Runs: Gordon (12)
Royals Record: 60-75

Brandon Duckworth certainly didn't make the kind of start we were hoping for. He gave up five earned runs in just 4.1 innings, and even though the bullpen kept the Twins for scoring any more runs, that's all the Twins needed. The Royals actually grabbed the lead in the fifth inning when Alex Gordon hit a solo home run, but in the bottom half of the inning the Twins scored four times to make it 6-3, Minnesota. Shane Costa doubled in Billy Butler in the eighth but the comeback fell a couple of runs short.

Mike Sweeney was booed every time he came to the plate, which is pretty funny and doesn't make a lot of sense. I guess Twins' fans expected him to not try to get a hit against Scott Baker a couple of nights ago when he was three outs shy of a no-hitter. Sweeney had two hits last nights, just for good measure.

This afternoon, Brian Bannister (11-7, 3.27) will go against Boof Bonser (6-11, 4.72). Bannister is 1-0 in his career against the Twins with a 2.57 ERA. Bonser is 1-3 against the Royals with a 3.92 ERA.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sweeney Spoils No-Hitter

Game Date: August 31, 2007
Twins 5, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Baker (8-6), LP: Meche (7-12)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 60-74

For the first time since June 17, Mike Sweeney walked to the plate knowing that Scott Baker had been busting Royals hitters inside with fastballs all night and getting many others out with sliders and cutters away. He also came to the plate knowing that people all across the country were watching (via ESPN) because Baker was on the verge of throwing a no-hitter. Sweeney said that before the ninth inning he learned that he would be pinch-hitting for Tony Pena, so he watched some video of Baker and he talked to some of the guys who had already faced him earlier in the game. Baker jumped ahead 0-1, and then he threw an inside fastball that Mike Sweeney stroked into left center field for a single to break up the no-hitter.

"He's a quality hitter and he has been for a long time," Baker is quoted as saying after the game. "If there's one guy who could do it, it's him. I made the right pitch. It might have been a little up, and he put a decent swing on it and it worked for him."

Before Sweeney's hit, I couldn't help but think back to the only no-hitter ever thrown against the Royals--when Nolan Ryan did so on May 15, 1973. Being no-hit by Nolan Ryan is acceptable, maybe even expected. But I didn't want to see Scott Baker do it. He's under .500 in his career with an ERA near 5.00. They guy pitched well last night, but I didn't want to see his name in the Royal's record book next to Nolan Ryan. Thankfully, I won't have to.

The Royals and Twins play again in about 20 minutes. Brandon Duckworth (2-3, 2.94) will make his first start for the Royals since April 13. Carlos Silva (10-13, 4.33) will go for the Twins. Duckworth is 1-0 against the Twins in his career with a 1.93 ERA. Silva is 4-2 against the Royals with a 3.94 ERA.

Royals Win Number 60

Game Date: August 31, 2007
Royals 9, Twins 4 / Box Score
WP: Davies (2-3), LP: Garza (3-5)
Royal Home Runs: Gload (6)
Royals Record: 60-73

Win number 60 hardly seems like something to celebrate, but when you think about last season, and the fact that we only won 62 games, then you'll see some significance. Seventy wins seems like a certainty now, and the jokes about 100-loss seasons seem to be fading.

The Royals got out of the gate early yesterday. With one out in the first inning, Ross Gload hit a sacrifice fly to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Billy Butler followed him with an RBI double. After an Alex Gordon single, Emil Brown hit a sacrifice fly to score Billy Butler. So the Royals had a nice three-run inning to start the game. The Twins clawed their way back into the game, but in the sixth inning, the Royals blew it open with five runs, capped off by a two-run home run by Gload.

Kyle Davies was adequate (giving up two earned runs in five innings, throwing 91 pitches) and the combination of John Bale, Ryan Braun, and Joel Peralta allowed just one run over the final four innings. Davies was optioned to Wichita after the game to make room for Mike Sweeney (which turned out to be a great move--more on that in the next post), but Davies is expected to make his next start for the Royals in Texas on Wednesday night.

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