Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trade Deadline

With the trade deadline quickly approaching, a couple of Royals' players should probably have their cell phones turned on today. Several teams are still interested in Ron Mahay and it sounds like the Twins are in the market for a second baseman, so Mark Grudzielanek could be moved as well. Here's a link that goes into more detail.

Game 109: Kansas City @ Oakland

Game Date: July 30, 2008
Royals 4, A's 3 / Box Score
WP: Ramirez (2-1), LP: Street (2-4), SV: Soria (30)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 50-59

Just when you think the season is on the brink of ruin for these guys, they do something they haven't done in 20 years--they pull off a sweep in Oakland.

As is so often the case with this ball club, some rather bizarre events took place during this game. Alex Gordon drew five walks (one of which was intentional)--a new Royals record for one game. Two more uncaught pop ups dropped in against the Royals. Mike Aviles failed to get a bunt down in the tenth inning with two guys on and nobody out and ended up doubling later in the at bat. And Jose Guillen played even though he "could hardly walk" (wait, that's an everyday occurrence) and still fought bravely through his injury, putting himself in a position to hit a sacrifice fly in the tenth inning that was deep enough to get a run home and give the Royals the lead that turned into a win.

Brian Bannister wasn't great, but he was good enough. He gave up two earned runs on eight hits and four walks, throwing 111 pitches in five innings. He also had a career-high seven strikeouts. It'd be nice to see Banny get back on track. During the game Denny Matthews said that it was an important start for Bannister, and we all know what that means--his spot in the rotation continues to be in jeopardy.

Joakim Soria picked up his 30th save of the season; he saved all three games in Oakland.

The Royals have an off day today. They begin a nine-game home stand tomorrow night and it won't be easy. They open with three games against the White Sox; then host Boston for three; and finally, the Twins for three more. Then they will head to Chicago and New York. So, August is looking brutal.

Tomorrow night, Luke Hochevar (6-8, 5.38) will go up against Javier Vazquez (7-9, 4.73). Hochevar is 0-0 in his career against the White Sox with a 4.00 ERA in 9.0 IP. Vazquez is 6-2 against the Royals with a 3.25 ERA in 74.2 IP.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trade Guillen

You've heard it all before. Jose Guillen is passionate about the game. All he cares about is winning. He wants to see his teammates play the game the right way. He plays hurt. He's a straight shooter who will tell you what he thinks, regardless of whether you like it or not.

All of that sounds nice, until you actually see Guillen play the game or until you see his actions or until you actually listen to what he has to say.

He has failed to run hard on numerous occasions this season--all of which we are supposed to believe he was hurt. He's made comments about the fans, saying he doesn't care about them and, at one point, saying "eff the fans." Nice. Then he knocked over a chair in front of Bob McClure in the clubhouse and they had words. A few days ago he doesn't make much of an effort to catch a pop up that dropped in and the fans booed him. But afterward, Ironman claimed to be playing through an injury that barely allowed him to walk. Okay...if you can't walk, how to you expect to play right field?

Unfortunately, Trey Hillman and Dayton Moore have joined in on the choruses of praise for Guillen any time somebody put a microphone in front of them. But for the first time, Moore's patience with Guillen appears to be wearing thin. Here are a couple of the comments he made that appear in the Star today:

“José Guillen likes attention. Every executive I’ve ever talked with has said the same thing. José Guillen like attention, he likes to talk, he likes to say things that will get him noticed. This is just the reality of things. We knew that when we signed the guy. He’s not the only player who you have to manage, not by a long shot. … The bottom line is that between the lines, José Guillen has been a productive player for our baseball team, and between the lines he will continue to be a productive player for our baseball team.”

And then we have this:

“Having some tension in the clubhouse, having some tension around our coaching staff, around our players, I don’t view that as a bad thing. I really don’t. Sometimes it’s good to step on people’s toes. Tension is part of success. I saw it in Atlanta. We had lots of tension, believe me.

“Of course, there can be too much. And hopefully the Kansas City Royals can get to the point where we can walk away from a player who causes too many problems.”

How about walking away from it now? Let's trade Guillen to a team that is so desperate for a bat that it is willing to overlook everything else about him.

Game 108: Kansas City @ Oakland

Game Date: July 29, 2008
Royals 5, A's 2 / Box Score
WP: Meche (9-9), LP: Smith (5-10), SV: Soria (29)
Royal Home Runs: Aviles (6), Buck (8)
Royals Record: 49-59

For the third straight time, Gil Meche went deep into a game while keeping his opponent in check. He's picked up three wins in a row and has evened his record at 9-9. After the game he credited Zack Greinke's performance the night before. Meche said that he watched Greinke's video before his start and saw how effective Greinke was when he went after guys. Meche's ERA continues to drop and his once disappointing season is changing into another solid season.

Mark Grudzielanek put the Royals on the scoreboard first with a sacrifice fly to left in the fourth inning that scored Mike Aviles. Then, with the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, Aviles crushed his sixth home run of the season (a solo shot) that put the Royals back in front. In the seventh, John Buck hit a long three-run home run to left center and that was plenty of run support for Meche and staff.

Ron Mahay picked up his 18th hold of the season on an 8-pitch eighth inning and Joakim Soria came in for the ninth and picked up his 29th save of the season.

The Royals look to sweep the A's in Oakland this afternoon for the first time in 20 years. Brian Bannister (7-9, 5.40) will go up against Sean Gallagher (4-4, 4.03). Bannister is 1-1 in his career against the A's with a 4.05 ERA in 20.0 IP. Gallagher has never faced the Royals.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Royals Trade Rumors

It's that time of year again and the Royals trade rumors are all over the place. Here's a rundown:

Ron Mahay is drawing interest from as many as ten teams according to Jayson Stark. Both the Phillies and the Red Sox are known to be interested.

The evil Yankees are thought to be interested in Brian Bannister. According to Bob Dutton, the Yankees might be willing to part with Melky Cabrera for Bannister.

A couple of teams are thought to be interested in Miguel Olivo; the evil Yankees are looking for a catcher and Olivo is in the mix, and the Blue Jays are thought to be interested in trading for him as well, with plans to move him to the Marlins.

Mark Grudzielanek wants to play another two or three years, but his contract is up at the end of this season. Mike Aviles could certainly replace him, but who would play short? Alberto Callaspo is still an unknown, but if he's ready, then I wouldn't be opposed to giving him a shot. I also wouldn't mind seeing the Royals re-sign Grud for two more seasons. The Royals are believed to be shopping Grud, but at this point, nothing seems to be imminent.

Guillen: "In Living Hell" is running a story in which an anonymous source is saying that Jose Guillen is in "living hell in Kansas City" and that he wants out. Here's a little more of what the source is saying:

"Guillen and Hillman are not on speaking terms, they don't talk," said the source. "Guillen is definitely not happy, he's not comfortable and he would do anything he can in economic terms to ease his way out of Kansas City."

Guillen, on the other hand, is saying that this information isn't coming from him and that he's never said that he wants out of Kansas City.

Which sounds closer to the truth based on what we know about Guillen?

Jose Guillen is cancer for any team in which he plays. The guy can hit a baseball, but his selfishness, lack of hustle, blows ups at teammates and fans, and his constant bitching about one thing or another starts to wear on you after a while.

I say trade him. The source in the ESPN story says that he is willing to defer his salary for 2009 and 2010 if it increases his trading value. Surely there's at least one team out there that is willing to take a chance on him.

Game 107: Kansas City @ Oakland

Game Date: July 28, 2008
Royals 4, A's 2 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (8-7), LP: Braden (2-1), SV: Soria (28)
Royal Home Runs: Guillen (14), Gordon (12)
Royals Record: 48-59

Jose Guillen's two-run home run in the first inning seemed to be exactly what Zack Greinke needed to get back on track. He hadn't won a game since June 24 against the Rockies and he hasn't pitched well since July 10 when he faced the White Sox. And before this game, his ERA for the month of June was 6.14. He said that the Royals early lead gave him a cushion to attack hitters, and attack he did. He struck out a career high 11 and he pitched into the eighth inning.

Alex Gordon had a big night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run and 2 RBI. Mike Aviles was 3-for-5 raising his average to .314. And Billy Butler was 2-for-3. So the Royals managed just enough offense to give the ball to Joakim Soria in the ninth with a lead and you know what that means. 1-2-3.

Soria is slowly drawing closer to having one of the ten best seasons a closer has ever had for the Royals. As you might imagine, Jeff Montgomery and Dan Quisenberry own the Royals record book regarding top ten save seasons. In 1995, Jeff Montgomery had 31 saves—good for tenth best. Soria will obviously go beyond that this season. Monty and Quiz are tied for the most amount of saves in a season at 45 (Monty did it in 1993—with a 2.27 ERA, Quiz did it in 1983—with a 4.08 ERA). If Soria can keep his ERA anywhere close to where it is now, he may just end up with the best season a closer has ever experienced in a Royals' uniform.

If you look at Soria's career save numbers, which only include this season and last, he's already number seven on the Royals all-time saves list with 44. Next up is Steve Farr who had 49 career saves. Doug Bird is third on the list with 58. So Soria needs just 14 to tie Bird and 15 to move into third place all-time. Of course, all of these numbers tell you just how bad the Royals have been at the back end of their pen with the exception of Monty and Quiz. But it is still fun to see Soria performing so well.

The Royals look to win the series in Oakland tonight. Gil Meche (8-9, 4.31) will go up against Greg Smith (5-9, 3.90). Meche is 2-7 in his career against the A's with a 4.00 ERA in 90.0 IP. Smith is 0-0 against the Royals with a 5.40 ERA in 5.0 IP.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Game 106: Tampa Bay @ Kansas City

Game Date: July 27, 2008
Royals 6, Rays 1 / Box Score
WP: Davies (4-2), LP: Sonnanstine (10-6)
Royal Home Runs: Aviles (5), Butler (6)
Royals Record: 47-59

A 2-5 homestand is hardly anything to get excited about, but at least the Royals split with the Rays over the last four games—which is close to a miracle, given all the mistakes the Royals made in the series.

The Royals played a little long ball yesterday to pick up the win. Mike Aviles had a solo shot in the first inning and Billy Butler put a dent (literally) in the left field foul pole with a three-run shot in the seventh inning. Toss in an RBI double by Butler in the fourth and an RBI double by David DeJesus in the fifth and the Royals' pitching staff had all the run support they needed.

Kyle Davies had a solid start. His final numbers show that he went five innings and gave up just one earned run, but it could have been worse. He got into a bases loaded jam to start the sixth and, after allowing one run to score, Ron Mahay came in and bailed Davies out—keeping the Rays from scoring again over the next two innings. Leo Nunez pitched a scoreless inning and Joakim Soria finished the game off with a five-pitch ninth inning.

The Royals hit the road to open a new series in Oakland tonight. Zack Greinke (7-7, 4.06) will go up against Dallas Braden (2-0, 4.05). Greinke is 1-0 in his career against the A's with a 2.83 ERA in 28.2 IP. Braden is 0-1 against the Royals with an 8.44 ERA in 5.1 IP.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Game 105: Tampa Bay @ Kansas City

Game Date: July 26, 2008
Rays 5, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Reyes (2-2), LP: Ramirez (1-1), Percival (22)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 46-59

More mistakes, another loss. I could end this post there, but you're not here for such brevity. So let's look at the mistakes.

The game was tied in the eighth inning when B.J. Upton hit a pop up to short right field. Mark Grudzielanek gave it a good effort but he couldn't get to the ball. Jose Guillen seemed to be jogging toward the ball and not giving Grud a whole lot of help. The ball dropped in, the Rays ended up scoring two runs later in the inning and all you have to do is look at the final score to see how important that play was. After the game, Guillen said that he aggravated his groin during his at bat in the fifth inning and that he should have taken himself out of the game at that point.

You think?

During that same inning, Esteban German was playing left field (why does Hillman keep putting him out there?) when Carl Crawford hit a ball down the line and German couldn't make the catch, even though he should have. Later in that at bat, Crawford tripled in the aforementioned two runs.

Luke Hochevar had a good outing—unfortunately it was cut short because of a rain delay. He gave up two earned runs in five innings on 78 pitches. Unfortunately, the defense just couldn't make the plays when they need to if they were going to hold up the bullpen. Of course, it would be nice if the offense could score more than three runs, but even with their continued struggles, we had a shot to win this one.

This afternoon, Kyle Davies (3-2, 4.58) will go up against Andy Sonnanstine (10-5, 4.54). Davies has never faced the Rays. Sonnanstine is 1-0 in his career against the Royals with a 1.93 ERA in 14.0 IP.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Game 104: Tampa Bay @ Kansas City

Game Date: July 25, 2008
Rays 5, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Jackson (6-7), LP: Bannister (7-9), SV: Percival (21)
Royal Home Runs: Butler (5), Buck (7), Gload (2)
Royals Record: 46-58

It seems like every time the Royals make a mistake, they pay for it. And since this is the Major Leagues, they probably should pay for it, but you'd think that they might catch a break one in a while.

In the first inning, Mark Grudzielanek wasn't on the bag when he received a throw from Mike Aviles and what should have been a double play turned into one out. Evan Longoria had a two-out RBI single later in the inning. Then in the fifth inning with the score still 1-0 in favor of the Rays, Mike Aviles made an error with two outs, allowing another run to score.

The Royals countered with three solo home runs from Billy Butler, John Buck, and Ross Gload, but it wasn't enough to overcome the mistakes and the two-run home run that Leo Nunez gave up to Carlos Pena in the eighth inning.

But the Royals also made a bad decision that might have been costly late in the game. In the eighth inning, with the Royals down by one run, they had David DeJesus on base and elected to try to bunt him over to second, but Aviles hardly had a chance to get a sacrifice bunt down because the Rays were charging from both corners. Carlos Pena easily fielded Aviles' bunt and fired to second to get the force out there. In a situation like that, you've got to give the hitter the freedom to swing away. Maybe Hillman did give Aviles that option and he didn't take it. I don't know.

Brian Bannister finally settled down and had a decent outing. He gave up two earned runs in 5.1 innings. His pitch count was ridiculously high (100), but he pitched well enough to keep the Royals in the game. According to Bob Dutton, Banny might be on the verge of losing his spot in the rotation. Here's what Dutton said in an article in the Star: "Bannister, 7-9, entered the game in need of a solid start to solidify his spot in the rotation after allowing 24 runs and 29 hits in 19 1/3 innings over his previous four outings." Before the season started, who would have imagined that Banny might lose his spot?

You have to wonder about putting Nunez into the game in such a pressure situation given his lengthy time on DL, but Hillman doesn't have a lot of options in the pen right now. Most of the guys in there are tired and Nunez was a fresh arm. And he was lights out before he got hurt. But he left up a pitch up to Pena, who hit the aforementioned home run in the eighth that put the game out of reach.

Tonight, Luke Hochevar (6-8, 5.47) will go up against Scott Kazmir (8-5, 2.80). Hochevar is 0-1 in his career against the Rays with a 15.75 ERA in 4.0 IP. Kazmir is 1-2 against the Royals with a 5.90 ERA in 29.0 IP.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Game 103: Tampa Bay @ Kansas City

Game Date: July 24, 2008
Royals 4, Rays 2 / Box Score
WP: Meche (8-9), LP: Garza (8-6), SV: Soria (27)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 46-57

All of a sudden, Gil Meche's numbers aren't looking so bad. Last night, he had another great outing—throwing seven shutout innings and lowering his ERA to a season low, 4.31. If he stays on track, he'll be a big boost to a rotation that has been struggling for quite a while.

The Royals struck early in this one, and, of course, David DeJesus was in the middle of it. He singled to lead off the first inning. Then Mike Aviles singled. And Mark Grudzielanek got DeJesus home on a sacrifice fly. The Royals took a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning, during which they scored three more times. After Alex Gordon singled and Billy Butler walked, Ross Gload drove in Gordon with a single and John Buck followed Gload with a two-run double to right field. Joakim Soria had a shaky ninth, but after giving up a run, he buckled down and got the save.

With Joey Gathright going on the DL, Mitch Maier got the call to replace him on the roster. Maier hasn't been in the big leagues since 2006. He was just 2-for-13 during a short five game stretch, but most Royals fans have been anxious to see what he could do for some time now. In Omaha this season, Maier was hitting .316 with 9 HR and 41 RBI in 85 games, so he could bring some welcome power to a lethargic offense.

Did you get a chance to see John Buck's new haircut—if that's what you want to call it? Gil Meche promised Buck that he'd pitch well if Buck would allow him to shave his head before the game, and Buck relented. Having a bald head in the dog days of a long Kansas City summer can't be all bad. Buck sent his wife a text message before the game saying, "Do you really love me for me?" She asked him why and he said, "Don't miss the game tonight. You'll know why." How funny is that? I love baseball stories and this is a good one. It's a good thing Meche pitched well.

Tonight, Brian Bannister (7-8, 5.49) will go up against Edwin Jackson (5-7, 4.25). Bannister is 1-1 in his career against the Rays with a 4.85 ERA in 13.0 IP. Jackson is 1-1 against the Royals with a 5.40 ERA in 11.2 IP.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Game 102: Detroit @ Kansas City

Game Date: July 23, 2008
Tigers 7, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Galarraga (8-4), LP: Greinke (7-7)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 45-57

If this is starting to feel a lot like last season, there's a good reason; the Royals have the exact same record this season as they did last season after 102 games. And if that isn't enough of a reason to be bummed out, then consider the fact that the Royals almost got no-hit again last night. Armando Galarraga (a rookie) took a perfect game into the seventh inning. David DeJesus broke it up with a single to right field. Imagine what this offense would look like without DeJesus in the lineup. Scary stuff.

Let's take a look at how bad the Royals are offensively. They are 13th out of 14 teams in runs scored in the AL; they are 12th in home runs; they are tied for 7th in batting average; 13th in on base percentage; and dead last in walks (no other team is even close). Could be worse—especially if Seattle weren't in the AL, but here's the funny thing—if you look at the 2007 statistics, they aren't much different, even though our young guys have another year under their belt, and even though we spent $36 million to land Jose Guillen. In 2007, the Royals were 13th in runs scored; 14th in home runs; 11th in batting average (but they have the exact same average as this year--.261); 13th in on base percentage; and 13th in walks. So much for an improved offense.

Just glance down the box score to get a good idea about how bad the Royals are right now. Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen are hitting in the .240s. Biller Butler was so bad earlier this season that he was sent to Omaha for a month. Even now, he's hitting just .251. Our fifth highest average in the lineup last night was Ross Gload, who is hitting .259. On and on it goes.

The starting rotation isn't pitching well right now either. And you get the feeling that we are going to be subjected to miserable baseball with all sorts of crazy lineups in August and September.

Oh well, I guess we are used to it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Game 101: Detroit @ Kansas City

Game Date: July 22, 2008
Tigers 7, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Rogers (8-6), LP: Davies (3-2)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 45-56

Kenny Rogers beat the Royals again. He gave up just four hits in the process—three of which came off the bat of Mark Grudzielanek, who is now 15-for-23 against the Gambler in his career. Rogers says that the next time he faces Grud, he's going to throw him a knuckleball. I bet he's only half joking.

Kyle Davies was only able to give the Royals four innings. He struggled with his command and ended up throwing 96 pitches. So, the bullpen was stretched even further. Joel Peralta pitched three innings and Robinson Tejeda pitched two. The Royals hope to give the pen a break this afternoon by giving Zack Greinke the start. The Royals website is saying that Greinke has been "tapped to go long and relieve KC's relievers."

Not much to talk about at the plate for the Royals in this one. They managed just six hits. Grud drove in the Royals only run, in the first inning. Esteban German had a couple of hits. Mike Aviles had one hit, pushing his hitting streak to twelve games.

The game was delayed by two hours and nineteen minutes because of rain. That had to be fun to sit through.

The Royals will look to salvage the final game of the series this afternoon. Zack Greinke (7-6, 3.90) will go up against Armando Galarraga (7-4, 3.41). Greinke is 7-3 in his career against the Tigers with a 3.14 ERA in 66.0 IP. Galarraga has never faced the Royals.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Game 100: Detroit @ Kansas City

Game Date: July 21, 2008
Tigers 19, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Miner (4-3), LP: Hochevar (6-8)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 45-55

You'd think that there wouldn't be much to say after a 19-4 drubbing, but there is plenty.

Let's start with the defense. In the third inning, Alex Gordon bobbled a double-play ball and the Royals weren't able to turn the double-play as a result. The Tigers went on to score five runs that inning. I don't think Gordon is a poor fielding third baseman, but I also don't think he's a good fielding third baseman. You really can't look at errors any more as a deciding factor about a player on defense because it's become nearly impossible to get an error in MLB in recent years. But if you look at Gordon's Zone Rating (.746), it's the worst among all qualifying American League third baseman. He just doesn't get to many balls and when he does, he doesn't seem to make the play.

Next let's talk about Jimmy Gobble. I understand that the Royals were down 9-0 when Gobble entered the game in the eighth inning. And I understand not wanting to burn any more pitchers out of the bullpen in such a lopsided affair, but to allow Gobble to give up ten earned runs in one inning seems insane to me. He's already having a terrible year (he had a 7.99 ERA going into the game and it ballooned to 11.31); why in the world would you leave him in for so long and possibly damage his confidence so much that he's done for the year? And why does Hillman insist upon using him against righties and lefties when he's had so much success out of the pen as a situational lefty?

With the Royals down 19-0, they decided that enough was enough and they gave Tony Pena a shot at pitching. Why not? The dude comes in and throws a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 inning, striking out Ivan Rodriguez and hitting 90 mph on the radar gun. How bizarre is that? And how quickly can we start his transition to the bullpen? It'd be perfect (I say with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek) because he wouldn't have to hit.

If you are looking for a little positive news from this game, you can point to the four runs the Royals scored in the bottom half of the eighth inning after falling behind 19-0. Pundits will say that it proves that the Royals have a lot of fight in them and it's hard to disagree with that. I don't think they've quit on us. But it also could have just been the result of a bunch of guys who went up there hacking, knowing that the game over. Either way, I guess it's a good thing that we weren't shutout.

Tonight, the Royals will look to even the series. Kyle Davies (3-1, 4.59) will get the start against Kenny Rogers (7-6, 4.62). Davies is 1-1 in his career against the Tigers with a 3.86 ERA in 11.2 IP. Rogers has made a living against the Royals, going 20-18 with a 4.08 ERA in 260.1 IP.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Game 98: Kansas City @ Chicago

Game Date: July 19, 2008
Royals 9, White Sox 1 / Box Score
WP: Meche (7-9), LP: Floyd (10-6)
Royal Home Runs: Buck (6), Butler (4)
Royals Record: 44-54

Who would have thought that it would take Billy Butler 98 games to hit his fourth home run of the season? At least he's hit one in back to back games. But the story of this game wasn't the offense; it was Gil Meche and the bullpen—they combined to limit the White Sox to just one run on two hits. Meche limited his pitch count and got into the seventh inning, and Ron Mahay, Ramon Ramirez, and Horacio Ramirez took it from there. The bullpen was so good that they didn't even allow one hit in the final 2.2 innings.

Meche is slowly beginning to redeem a poor start to the season. After his performance last night, he lowered his ERA to 4.55 and he's inching toward a .500 record. I expected his ERA to be over 4.00 this season; I was just hoping he'd approach 15 wins. At 7-9, he still has a shot. Before the season started, I predicted that he'd win 15 games and have a 4.48 ERA. We'll see how that turns out.

Since I missed so many games over the last week, I don't really know if the lineup has looked as odd as it did last night. Either way, I can't help but comment about it now. Mark Teahen is a great baserunner, but I'm not sure what he was doing hitting leadoff. Maybe somebody can clue me in. Mike Aviles seems like a good fit for the two hole. And I don't mind seeing David DeJesus in the three spot—especially since he's hit so well with RISP this season. Billy Butler is fine in the cleanup spot. Mark Grudzielanek looks out of place at number five. Alex Gordon, Ross Gload, and John Buck, seem to be in the right place. And having Gathright hit ninth gives the Royals a second lead-off hitter of sorts. Even though a couple of guys look like they aren't in the right spot, the Royals won and that is all that matters.

The Royals will look to win the series this afternoon. Brian Bannister (7-8, 5.24) will go up against John Danks (7-4, 2.67). Bannister is 2-1 in his career against the White Sox with a 6.67 ERA in 29.2 IP. Danks is 0-0 against the Royals with a 1.98 ERA 13.2 IP.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Game 97: Kansas City @ Chicago

Game Date: July 18, 2008
White Sox 9, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Buehrle (7-8), LP: Greinke (7-6)
Royal Home Runs: Butler (3)
Royals Record: 43-54

After driving nearly 3,000 miles, including stops in four different hotels, and so many cities that I lost track, I'm finally headed home this weekend. And, of course, that also means I'll be able to resume a more regular posting schedule. Since I've been on the road, I haven't seen one Royals game on television. I listened to a couple of games online, but that was hardly enough to satisfy my Royals fix.

So about the game yesterday…

What is up with Zack Greinke's lack of success at U.S. Cellular Field? After his loss there last night, he's 0-6 in his career there with a 7.78 ERA. I tend to think it's just a fluke that started with a couple of bad outings and once that happens it is easy to start to wonder about a place. I like the fact that Trey Hillman gave him the ball for the first game after the All-Star break though. Greinke deserved to be recognized as the ace of the staff after the numbers he put up in the first half of the season. Unfortunately, he just didn't have it last night. He gave up six runs on seven hits in the first inning alone.

The Royals mounted a mini-comeback in the sixth inning. David DeJesus reached on a single. Mark Teahen did too. And Billy Butler hit a three-run shot to left field to bring the Royals to within three runs (7-4). Butler drove in another run in the eighth inning, but obviously, it wasn't enough.

The Royals will try to even the series tonight when Gil Meche (6-9, 4.71) takes the mound against Gavin Floyd (10-5, 3.63). Meche is 6-3 in his career against the White Sox with a 4.38 ERA in 76.0 IP. Floyd is 1-0 against the Royals with a 2.57 ERA in 7.0 IP.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Game: 93: Chicago @ Kansas City

Game Date: July 10, 2008
Royals 4, White Sox 1 / Box Score
WP: Mahay (5-0), LP: Buehrle (6-8), SV: Soria (24)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (10)
Royals Record: 41-52

I picked a good game to make a comeback. Harkening back to the days of Willie Wilson, Mark Teahen hit his second inside the park home run this year to add some insurance shortly after Jose Guillen's RBI double in the eighth inning that give the Royals a 2-1 lead. Teahen is the first Royal with two inside the park home runs since Brian McRae did it in 1992.

Zack Greinke continued to show that he's the ace of the staff--going seven innings and giving up just one earned run. After the game, Ozzie Guillen said this about Greinke, "To me, he's one of the best pitchers in the American League." Greinke currently ranks 11th in the AL in ERA (3.48) and 7th in strikeouts (104).

Things looked desperate for the Royals early on. Mark Buehrle was mowing our guys down, but once he left the game, the Royals mounted their dramatic comeback against Octavio Dotel and Boone Logan. And they got a little help from Paul Konerko who couldn't hold on to a throw from Alexei Ramirez in the eighth inning, which allowed David DeJesus to reach first base. That set the stage for Mike Aviles to drive him in with a double.

You know the rest of the story.

Ron Mahay and Joakim Soria continued their amazing seasons in relief. The both pitched a scoreless inning. Mahay picked up his fifth win of the season and lowered his ERA to 1.87. Soria picked up his 24th save and lowered his ERA to 1.54.

The Royals have won just three of their last ten games, but they begin a new series against Seattle now, so hopefully they can win a series before the All-Star break on Monday. Luke Hochevar (5-7, 5.40) will go up against Felix Hernandez (6-5, 2.83). Hochevar has never faced the Mariners. Hernandez is 2-0 in his career against the Royals with a 2.11 ERA.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Power came back on last week, but I've been busy preparing for a 10-day business trip that I leave for tomorrow. I expect to begin posting during the trip (although it may be sparse) and things will return to normal after I return.

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