Monday, March 31, 2008

Game 1

Game Date: March 31, 2008
Royals 5, Tigers 4 / Box Score
WP: Nunez (1-0), LP: Bautista (0-1), SV: Soria (1)
Royal Home Runs: Gordon (1)
Royals Record: 1-0

It didn't look good early, but the Royals found a way to win, and that's what matters.

First things first, David DeJesus left the game in the third inning with a noticeable limp. Apparently his ankle injury is more severe than anybody thought. Joey Gathright took over for him in the third.

Gil Meche didn't have his best stuff. He struggled with his control, especially in the fourth inning. Brandon Inge fouled off several pitches with two strikes before lining a ball into left center with one out to put runners at second and third. Meche walked Edgar Renteria after that and Meche couldn't throw an inside strike. He got Placido Polonaco to line out for the second out, but he ended up walking Gary Sheffield with the bases loaded to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead and Meche was over 80 pitches after getting out of the inning. The knock against Meche has always been that he throws too many pitches and that held true today (he ended up throwing 99 pitches in six innings), but he did get out of the sixth inning with limited damage and he kept the Royals in the game long enough for them to make a comeback.

In the top half of the sixth, with one out, Mark Grudzielanek worked the count full against Verlander before slapping a base hit between first and second base. Our young guys could learn a lot from Grudzielanek's AB. And maybe Alex Gordon did because he got a 3-1, 90 mph fastball down main street and he crushed it over the right field wall to make the score 3-2 Detroit.

The Royals chased Justin Verlander in the seventh after Mark Teahen drew a walk and took third on a hit-and-run single by Ross Gload. Jason Grilli entered the game for Detroit and John Buck greeted him with a single to tie the game, 3-3. Tony Pena was called upon to drop down a sacrifice bunt and he fouled off his first two attempts. He ended up hitting into a fielder's choice and the Royals had runners at the corners with one out. Unfortunately, Joey Gathright couldn't get the run home (against Bobby Seay), but Grudzielanek lined an 0-1 pitch to right field against Aquilino Lopez to give the Royals a 4-3 lead.

Hillman turned to Brett Tomko for the seventh to face the Tigers 3-4-5 hitters (Sheffield-Ordonez-Cabrera) and he got through the inning without giving up one runs. Of course, Tomko is actually the fifth starter, but with the off days in the schedule in early April, he is available for relief work. Unfortunately, he gave up a home run to Carlos Guillen to start the eighth inning. But he settled down after that, and after a nice play on a ground ball up the middle by Grudzielanek and a nice scoop by Ross Gload, he was able to get a ground out and then a strike out to end the inning.

Leo Nunez pitched two brilliant innings of relief and the game remained tied at four until the eleventh inning. In the Royals' half of the inning, Teahen drew a lead off walk against former Royal Denny Bautista. Gload got a nice sacrifice bunt down and moved Teahen to second base. And the stage appeared to be set for a small-ball victory, Trey Hillman style. Buck singled to center, but Inge was playing shallow. Inge threw out Teahen at home, but it was a good gamble. Inge doesn't normally play out there and Teahen is a great baserunner. Buck ended up taking second on the throw home. So, it was up to Pena. He had a guy at second with two outs and he found a way to dink a ball in front of Inge to drive in Buck.

Joakim Soria came in and gave up a double to Clete Thomas. Inge got him to third on a sacrifice bunt but Soria struck out Renteria on an excellent 2-2 breaking pitch. Then with two outs and a guy at third, Alex Gordon made a great diving play on a ground ball and he made the throw to first for the win.

And just like last year, the Royals start the season 1-0.


KMartin said...

Grudz is an opening day machine! I think he went 3 for 4 against the Red Sox last year.
Billy Butler's day was too quiet. Can someone explain to me why the Royals kept German over Shealy?
If the Royals can somehow grab an early two or three run lead in game 2, I think Detroit players will start to press a little which will allow the R's to win. Then Zack will attack in game 3 and the Royal Blues sweep!!!

Lee Warren said...

German was chosen over Shealy because German can play many positions and Shealy can only play one. German has played 1b, 2b, 3b, SS, and every outfield position in his career. Shealy on the other hand has never played any position except first base. A guy like German is invaluable and almost necessary. Alberto Callaspo is also versatile, but unproven at the big league level.

And I'm right there with you rooting for a Royals sweep. But at this point, I'd be thrilled if the Royals just own the series.

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