Sunday, August 31, 2008

Game 135: Kansas City @ Detroit

Game Date: August 30, 2008
Royals 13, Tigers 3 / Box Score
WP: Duckworth (2-0), LP: Rogers (9-12)
Royal Home Runs: Butler 2 (9), Teahen (12)
Royals Record: 57-78

I miss a game and the Royals go nuts at the plate. Go figure. And Brandon Duckworth won again. What in the world? And Billy Butler hit two home runs? Oh stop.

Wish I had something more to offer, but like I said, I missed the game and when I checked in on the score I couldn't believe my eyes. It's too late for any of this to matter, but it's always nice to get a win.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Game 134: Kansas City @ Detroit

Game Date: August 29, 2008
Tigers 6, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Miner (8-4), LP: Davies (5-6)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (11)
Royals Record: 56-78

Even after Mark Teahen hit a solo home run in the second inning to give the Royals a 1-0 lead, I didn't have a good feeling about the game. That's what happens during a losing streak. You are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And it did.

In the fifth inning, Mike Aviles made a throwing error on the first hitter of the inning. Six hits and six runs later, Kip Wells came to Kyle Davies' rescue and finally got the Royals out of the inning. But the damage was done. The Royals scored a couple of more times in the late innings, but they came up short. Again.

You'd like to see Kyle Davies overcome the throwing error. You'd like to see the Royals win if they out-hit their opponent (11-8). You'd like to see the Royals score more runs when the top of the lineup is 7-for 15. But Jose Guillen was 0-for-4. You'd like to see a lot of things out of this ball club, but when you've lost 18 out of the last 21 games, all you can see is losses.

The Royals are on pace to win just 67 games this season--which would be two less than last season. We've had several seasons that were worse (2006=62 wins, 2005=56 wins, 2004=58 wins, 2002=62 wins, 2001=65 wins, 1999=64 wins, 1970=65 wins), but somehow winning just 67 games this season would feel like the low point.

Maybe it's because expectations were higher this year. Most of us thought we would win in the low to mid-70s this season. Butler, Gordon, and Teahen had another year to mature. We had what we thought were three solid pitchers at the top of the rotation in Meche, Bannister, and Greinke. We brought in a proven power hitter. And we thought we had a better than average bullpen.

How is it possible that nearly all of those hopes were built on a false foundation? Butler, Gordon, and Teahen have all under-produced. Meche and Greinke have been solid, but Bannister is having an awful year. Jose Guillen embodies everything that is wrong with baseball. Our bullpen has a 4.29 ERA compared to a 3.85 ERA last season. And while there have been bright spots (Ramon Ramirez, Ron Mahay, Leo Nunez at times, Kip Wells surprisingly, and of course Joakim Soria) they have been offset by disappointments (Joel Peralta, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Jimmy Gobble, John Bale).

I wish I had answers, but I don't.

Tonight, Brandon Duckworth (1-0, 5.40) will go up against Kenny Rogers (9-11, 5.09). Duckworth is 2-2 in his career against the Tigers with a 3.63 ERA in 22.1 IP. Rogers is 21-19 against the Royals with a 4.13 ERA in 272.1 IP.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Game 133: Texas @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 27, 2008
Rangers 3, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Harrison (6-3), LP: Bannister (7-14), SV: Francisco (1)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 56-77

...hope has vanished. This team is a disaster. Again. --Jeffrey Flanagan

I'm starting to run out of words to describe how horrible this season has become. The Royals have lost 17 of their last 20 games and have dropped like an anchor in the AL Central standings with no chance of seeing fourth place again this season. Remember when they were actually ahead of the Indians? Cleveland has won ten games in a row and moved past Detroit, into third place. The Royals are eight games behind the Tigers.

Jose Guillen is busy yelling at fans. Most of our young guys are underachieving. Our defense is atrocious. Our pitching isn't much better. Can you imagine what the season would be like without Mike Aviles or Joakim Soria? Maybe the worst ever.

Brian Bannister had his best outing last night since the last time he won a game--June 23. But it still wasn't good enough. With the scored tied 2-2 in the seventh inning, Bannister dropped a pop up (which pretty much sums up the season for the Royals) and the Rangers scored what turned out to be the winning run on the play.

Thankfully, the Royals are off today, which means they can't lose. They will start a new series in Detroit on Friday night. Kyle Davies (5-5, 4.81) will go up against Zach Miner (7-4, 3.61). Davies is 1-3 in his career against the Tigers with a 4.57 ERA in 21.2 IP. Miner is 2-2 against the Royals with a 4.33 ERA in 27.0 IP.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Game 131: Texas @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 25, 2008
Rangers 9, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Feldman (5-5), LP: Meche (10-10)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 56-75

This version of Gil Meche hardly looked like the guy who was 4-0 with a 2.17 ERA since the All-Star break. The Rangers pounded out 14 hits against Meche which equated to five earned runs in 6.1 IP. While it wasn't even close to a decent outing, the Royals were down 5-2 when he left the game, and when John Buck grounded into a fielder's choice in the bottom of the seventh to bring home Billy Butler, the Royals were within two runs.

Then Joel Peralta came into the game and gave up three more runs to extend the Rangers lead. I was just looking at Peralta's numbers and the crazy thing is, August has been his second best month of the season (5.40 ERA). His best month was May (5.06 ERA). After being so solid out of the pen last year, you have to wonder what's happened to him. He was hit hard in April (6.75 ERA) and maybe his confidence was shaken. He's been sent to Omaha on more than one occasion and that probably didn't help his confidence either, but you can't leave a guy in the big leagues who is so unproductive. I like his attitude; I just hope that he turns things around soon.

Several Royals had good days at the dish. David DeJesus was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Billy Butler was 2-for-4. Ross Gload was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Alberto Callaspo and John Buck also had one RBI apiece. But four runs wasn't enough.

Tonight, Zack Greinke (9-9, 3.86) will go up against Kevin Millwood (7-7, 5.24). Greinke is 2-3 in his career against the Rangers with a 4.11 ERA in 35.0 IP. Millwood is 5-3  against the Royals with a 5.22 ERA in 58.2 IP.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Game 130: Detroit @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 24, 2008
Royals 7, Tigers 3 / Box Score
WP: Duckworth (1-0), LP: Rogers (9-11)
Royal Home Runs: Guillen (17)
Royals Record: 56-74

Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected sources. Under normal circumstances, you could hardly call Brandon Duckworth's line inspirational (3 ER on 7 H and 4 BB in 5.0 IP). But given the condition of our rotation and the fact that Duckworth's numbers in Omaha this year aren't even close to good, you have to be happy with what he did yesterday.

Couple Duckworth's performance with the fact the Royals finally seem to have figured out Kenny Rogers and it led to a stoppage of the seven game losing streak. In honor of the win, I pulled out my calculator and determined that the Royals are now on pace to win 69 games this season--the same number as last season. You'll probably recall that the Royals had a colossal collapse last season in September (9-19) and they still won 69 games. Makes you wonder if the current team will even hit 69 wins this year.

The one thing we have to be happy about regarding the game yesterday is the fact that the Royals finally played situational baseball. With the Royals down 3-2 in the second inning, Mark Teahen hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Billy Butler. In the fifth, Esteban German tied the score with another sacrifice fly to center that scored Alberto Callaspo. And Mike Aviles raced home during the same inning on a wild pitch to give the Royals a 4-3 lead. And in the sixth inning, Joey Gathright scored on a ground out to short by Miguel Olivo.

And how about Callaspo at second? He looked comfortable there and he went 3-for-3 at the plate. If the guy can just find a way to stay out of trouble, he certainly has an opportunity to prove himself at the major league level with all of the injuries on the team.

Joey Gathright made his presence felt--both on the bases and in the outfield. He's certainly no replacement for Guillen's bat (Gathright ran for Guillen after Guillen pulled up lame at third in the sixth inning), but he's fun to watch.

The Royals begin a new series tonight at home against the Rangers. Gil Meche (10-9, 4.01) will go up against Scott Feldman (4-5, 5.15). Meche is 4-8 in his career against the Rangers with a 6.25 ERA in 72.0 IP. Feldman is 0-0 against the Royals with a 3.86 ERA in 14.0 IP.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


With the injuries mounting, the Royals are scrambling to fill all their roster spots.

Alex Gordon has a "a tear in the upper right side of his leg" which is going to sideline him for at least a couple of weeks. So, Hillman decided to move Mark Teahen back to third base, which is his best defensive position and something I've been advocating since before the season started. (I'd like to see Gordon be the everyday first baseman.) Of course, Teahen hasn't played third base since 2006, so it'll be interesting to see how he handles the transition.

Ron Mahay was placed on the DL to make room for Kyle Davies, who will start tonight and hopefully eat a few innings.

Game 128: Detroit @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 22, 2008
Tigers 4, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Verlander (10-13), LP: Bannister (7-13), SV: Rodney (6)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 55-73

Brian Bannister was better last night, but not good enough to out-duel Justin Verlander. He appeared to be pitching to contact, which allowed him to keep his pitch count down and eat some innings. He threw 100 pitches in eight innings, while giving up four earned runs. Mostly importantly, he kept the Tigers within striking distance and eventually the Royals did mount a come back.

Trailing 4-0 in the eighth, John Buck tripled in Ross Gload to make it 4-1. Then in the ninth, Esteban German doubled in Mike Aviles and Billy Butler singled in German to pull the Royals to within a run. With two outs and David DeJesus on third, Fernando Rodney uncorked a wild pitch. DeJesus raced home, but the ball bounced back to Brandon Inge and he threw out DeJesus at home to end the game. DeJesus said afterward that he didn't have a big enough lead.

It's hard to call such a loss a heartbreaker though because when you've lost 13 out of the last 15 games, losses are expected. I hate it that the season has come to this, but it has.

Positives? Well, they are hard to find, but how about Mike Aviles going 3-for-5? Ross Gload was 4-for-4. And Billy Butler was 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Tonight, Kyle Davies (5-4, 4.71) will go up against Zach Miner (6-4, 3.94). Davies is 1-2 in his career against the Tigers with a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 IP. Miner is 1-2 against the Royals with a 5.85 ERA in 20.0 IP.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Game 127: Kansas City @ Cleveland

Game Date: August 21, 2008
Indians 10, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Lee (18-2), LP: Greinke (9-9)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 55-72

Do you remember the game a couple of seasons ago when Esteban German didn't take a pair of sunglasses with him to the outfield and then he ended up losing a ball in the sun, getting hit in the face with it, and leaving the game? Remember Buddy Bell's reaction? Here's what he said:

"I've seen things here recently I haven't seen since rookie league," Bell said. "Guys not having (sun)glasses, guys not covering first."

Well, maybe he should have stuck around a little longer because he would have had a chance to see it again yesterday when Tony Pena dropped an infield popup in the second inning. Here's what Hillman said about the play:

"Today was a sun ball," Hillman said. "Tony's got prescription glasses, flip shades don't fit over them and he doesn't have any prescription sunglasses."

In the Star today, Pena said that he ordered a pair of prescription sunglass, but they never showed up. I've got an idea. How about someone sending him to Wal-mart before the game tonight so he'll have them by the next time he plays?

The Indians went on to score three runs that inning.

I hate the fact that this franchise has been the butt of jokes over the past decade, but jokes have to have an element of truth, otherwise they aren't funny. And the Royals certainly provide enough material.

Pena's blunder wasn't the only costly mistake in this game. In the third inning, Billy Butler committed an error and the next hitter blasted a two-run home run to center field.

If you are looking for a little positive news, Mitch Maier seems to be doing fine after being hit in the face with a pitch a couple of games ago. The right side of his face is swollen, his right eye is hard to open, and he's still bleeding from his nose, but he says that he isn't in any pain. I'm thinking that this guy should have been a middle linebacker instead of a center fielder.

The Royals begin a new series at home tonight against Detroit. Brian Bannister (7-12, 5.96) will go up against Justin Verlander (9-13, 4.60). Bannister is 3-1 in his career against the Tigers with a 1.82 ERA in 24.2 IP. Verlander is 6-1 against the Royals with a 2.69 ERA in 63.2 IP.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Game 126: Kansas City @ Cleveland

Game Date: August 20, 2008
Indians 8, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Rincon (3-3), LP: Soria (1-3), SV: Lewis (4)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 55-71

And it gets worse.

Gil Meche was nearly unhittable last night. In fact, if Alex Gordon hadn't committed an error in the first inning, thereby giving the Indians an extra AB which led to a two-run home run, Meche would have given up just one hit on the evening. He had his change up and curve ball working again and he was keeping it down. He retired 17 straight batters by the end of the seventh inning, and then Trey Hillman decided to put the game in the hands of the bullpen.

On paper, it makes sense. Ramon Ramirez has been strong in the set up role and Joakim Soria has been lights out all season. But when your starter is cruising like he was, don't you let him at least come out for the eighth? If he gives up a hit or a walk, nobody is going to question why you pulled him. But Hillman looked at the pitch count, and apparently the lateness of the season, and decided to pull him.

Then disaster struck.

But first, listen to what Hillman had to say about being second-guessed after the game:

"Easy to second-guess?" Hillman said. "Well, he's over 100 pitches and it's late in the season. He's not going to have any extra rest. We're already falling apart with our rotation. I don't understand why there'd be second-guessing, it's a no-brainer for me. If people want to second-guess that decision, that's fine."

A little testy there, aren't we Trey? You had to expect someone to ask why you pulled Meche.

Maybe all this losing is finally getting to Hillman. That would be understandable.

He handed the ball to Ramirez with a 5-3 Royals lead to begin the eighth. Two pitches into the inning, Kelly Shoppach hit a home run to left field to bring the Indians to within a run. Then Ramirez walked a guy, who was moved to second with a sacrifice bunt.

Enter Joakim Soria who was being asked to get a five-out save. He was certainly rested enough, given how many games the Royals have lost lately. But he walked the first guy he faced, Grady Sizemore, and then gave up a two-run home run to Franklin Gutierrez. Ryan Garko singled in two more guys later in the inning and you could just see by the looks on the faces in the Royals' dugout that they had nothing left.

They went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning and have now lost 11 of their last 13 games.

Did you get a chance to see Mitch Maier's AB in the fifth inning? Nasty stuff. Maier was trying to get a sacrifice bunt down and Zach Jackson came up and in, hitting Maier in the face with a pitch. Maier suffered three "nondisplaced" facial fractures to his cheek bone, the orbital floor beneath the eye, and the zygomatic bone. He's head for the DL and Joey Gathright was recalled to take his place.

If you are looking for a positive, besides Meche's performance, you can look to Mike Aviles who was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. He's been in a "slump" in August in comparison to the rest of the season. Of course, even his slump months are better than nearly everybody else on the team. He's hitting .304 in August.

The Royals play the final game of the series this afternoon in Cleveland. Zack Greinke (9-8, 3.92) will go up against Cliff Lee (17-2, 2.43) in what should be a great pitchers duel. Greinke is 3-6 in his career against the Indians with a 4.14 ERA in 58.2 IP. Lee is 9-4 against the Royals with a 4.88 ERA in 94.0 IP.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Game 125: Kansas City @ Cleveland

Game Date: August 19, 2008
Indians 9, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Reyes (2-1), LP: Hochevar (6-12)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 55-70

This season is becoming just like so many others in recent Royals' history--painful to watch.

We've lost 10 of our last 12 games and the Indians are pulling away from us in the standings. Injuries are mounting. We aren't deep. Most of our young talent is under-performing. And I still can't believe we have a starting first baseman who has just three home runs in 105 games.

The Royals lost the game last night, and they may have lost Luke Hochevar for a while. In the sixth inning he felt muscular tightness in his right ribcage while throwing his warm up tosses. After the game he said that he was still having a hard time catching his breath. That doesn't sound good.

We're already down one starting pitcher in Kyle Davies, who was optioned to Omaha last week (he'll have to stay there for 10 days). Brian Bannister is either injured or completely ineffective right now and so the only two healthy/effective pitchers in the rotation are Gil Meche and Zack Greinke. I'm really hoping that Kip Wells isn't being considered as a possible fill-in until we can put a rotation back together.

Now can I pick on Mark Teahen for a minute? After going 0-for-5 last night, he's hitting just .242 in August with 0 HR and just 6 RBI in 16 games. If those numbers aren't pathetic enough, check out his numbers in July--he hit .211 with 2 HR and 7 RBI in 20 games. This is his fourth full season and he's not improving. He'll hit the magical 27 years of age next month, which is supposed to mean he'll be in his prime. Will his numbers improve in 2009? We'll see.

Let's hope that Gil Meche (10-9, 4.13) looks as good tonight as he did during his last outing on Friday against the evil Yankees when he faces Zach Johnson (0-0, 5.19). Meche is 3-7 in his career against the Indians with a 5.53 ERA. Johnson has never faced the Royals.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Royals Sign Kip Wells

If you want to know how desperate the Royals are for bullpen help right now with Ron Mahay and Ramon Ramirez hurt and with so many other guys tired or struggling, the Royals just signed Kip Wells. The Rockies designated him for assignment last week after going 1-2 with a 5.27 ERA in 15 appearances.

Wells has not even had a decent season since 2004 (I'm defining decent as having an ERA under 5.00). But with the Rockies picking up $3.1 million of his contract, the Royals are on the hook for just $90,000--so we're not taking much of a risk financially, but you have to wonder about our system when we can't even find a guy to bring up late in the season to eat a few innings out of the pen.

Wells may be in uniform for the game tonight in Cleveland.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Game 124: Kansas City @ New York

Game Date: August 17, 2008
Yankees 15, Royals 6 / Box Score
WP: Mussina (16-7), LP: Bannister (7-12)
Royal Home Runs: Gload (3)
Royals Record: 55-69

It was the Jimmy Gobble experience all over again. Trey Hillman left Brian Bannister in the game while the evil Yankees pounded him for ten earned runs in one inning. Hillman's choices were limited though since the bullpen was so tired. You just hate to see a guy get mauled like that. How much longer will Hillman keep Banny in the rotation?

The Royals got off to a great start, scoring three runs in the top of the first, but the evil Yankees answered with six runs in the bottom of the first. And they scored four more in the second. Joe Girardi certainly didn't call off the dogs. The Yankees scored four more runs in the eighth.

I couldn't wait for the game to get over. It's bad enough seeing the Yankees win, but seeing them annihilate the Royals is just too much to bear.

The Royals are off today. They will open a new series in Cleveland tomorrow night. Luke Hochevar (6-11, 5.44) will go up against Anthony Reyes (3-2, 3.67). Hochevar is 1-1 in his career against the Indians with a 4.00 ERA in 9.0 IP. Reyes is 1-0 against the Royals with a 0.00 ERA in 5.2 IP.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Game 123: Kansas City @ New York

Game Date: August 16, 2008
Yankees 3, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Robertson (3-0), LP: Fulchino (0-1)
Royal Home Runs: Gordon (14)
Royals Record: 55-68

Two runs shouldn't be enough to beat the evil Yankees, but it should have been enough yesterday--given the way Zack Greinke pitched (0 earned runs, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 K, in 6.2 IP).

Unfortunately three errors and a wild pitch by the Royals in the seventh inning allowed two runs to score, tying the game 2-2, and eventually forced it into extra innings.

The evil Yankees won in the bottom of the thirteenth inning when Brett Gardner, who is hitting .176, singled in the winning run.

Obviously, our bullpen was stretched, and they walked too many guys (5), but they kept the Yankees off the board until the thirteenth inning, which at least gave us a chance to overcome our poor defensive effort to win the game. But the Yankees bullpen was even better, not allowing any runs over the final 6.2 innings.

Mitch Maier had a nice day at the plate, going 3-for-5, raising his average to .352. David DeJesus was 2-for-6. And Mark Teahen was 2-for-4.

This afternoon, the Royals will look to win the series when Brian Bannister (7-11, 5.36) goes up against Mike Mussina (15-7, 3.30). Bannister is 1-1 in his career against the evil Yankees with a 9.45 ERA in 13.1 IP. Mussina is 17-7 against the Royals with a 2.96 ERA in 240.1 IP.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Royals Sign Eric Hosmer, Melville

It always come down to the final ten minutes with the Scott Boras clients and the Royals, but at least they got the deal done.

Eric Hosmer signed with the Royals for a $6 million signing bonus--the largest singing bonus the Royals have ever issued to a draft pick. That seems like an awful lot of money to give to the third over-all pick, but it is in line with the two players who were drafted in front of him.

Tim Beckham, the first player taken in the 2008 draft, received a $6.15 million signing bonus from the Rays. And Pedro Alvarez received a $6 million signing bonus from the Pirates.

The Royals also signed fourth round pick, Tim Melville.

Both players will report to the Arizona Instructional League.

Here's a list of players that the Royals signed from the 2008 draft.

Game 122: Kansas City @ New York

Game Date: August 15, 2008
Royals 4, Yankees 3 / Box Score
WP: Nunez (4-1), LP: Rivera (4-5), SV: Soria (33)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 55-67

Does anything in baseball compare to a win against the evil Yankees? Not in my opinion. Especially when the win comes in such heartbreaking fashion.

In the ninth inning, with the scored tied 3-3, Esteban German plugged the gap with a one-out double and Mitch Maier reached first on an infield single, moving German to third. That's when Mariano Rivera buried a wild pitch that allowed German to race home for what turned out to be the winning run.

Things got a little dicey for Joakim Soria in the bottom half of the inning though. He gave up an infield single, and then picked off the pinch runner at first, followed by a ground out, another single, and a walk, and another infield single, before getting Giambi to fly out to end the game.

Mitch Maier played a huge part in the win. In the fifth inning with the Royals up 1-0 and guys on first and second base, Maier put down a beautiful sacrifice bunt that advanced both runners and set the stage for more runs. Andy Pettitte intentionally walked Mike Aviles to set up the double play, but Mark Teahen followed him with a ground rule double to left center, driving in two runs and giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.

Esteban German looks like he's finally coming out of his season-long slump. He was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a walk. He's certainly going to get plenty of playing time for the rest of the season with Mark Grudzielanek on the shelf, so this may be his last opportunity to prove that he can be the everyday second baseman. He plays hard, so I'm rooting for him.

How about Gil Meche? He looked downright nasty at times--especially with his change up and curve ball--both of which he kept down. He didn't spot his fastball all that well, but he set up the fastball with his breaking stuff and it was effective enough to keep the Royals in the game. He gave up just one earned run on six hits and two walks, striking out eight, and lowering his ERA to 4.13. Too bad he didn't get the decision.

This afternoon, the Royals look to win the final series they'll ever play at Yankee Stadium when Zack Greinke (9-8, 4.09) goes up against Sidney Ponson (7-3, 4.27). Greinke is 2-3 against the evil Yankees in his career with a 6.25 ERA in 36.0 IP. Ponson is 10-7 against the Royals with a 4.38 ERA in 127.1 IP.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Game 121: Kansas City @ Chicago

Game Date: August 14, 2008
White Sox 9, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Broadway (1-0), LP: Davies (5-4)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 54-67

Well, at least we scored.

The Royals actually had the lead early on when Jose Guillen singled in Mitch Maier and Mike Aviles in the first inning. The White Sox scored three runs in the second to take the lead and the score remained 3-2 until the sixth inning when the Sox hit back to back to back to back home runs (Thome, Konerko, Ramirez, Uribe). After Uribe crossed home plate, the Sox were up 9-2 and every ounce of life that may have existed in the Royals dugout was gone.

Joel Peralta gave up the first three bombs. Robinson Tejeda gave up the fourth.

I understand that the White Sox are a first place team and all, but this was a downright embarrassing series for the Royals.  They were outscored 22-2. Unfortunately, life doesn't get any easier this weekend. The Royals open a new series against the evil Yankees tonight.

Gil Meche (10-9, 4.24) will go up against Andy Pettitte (12-9, 4.32). Meche is 3-4 against the evil Yankees in his career with a 4.64 ERA in 66.0 IP. Pettitte is 12-3 against the Royals with a 3.58 ERA in 133.1 IP.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Game 120: Kansas City @ Chicago

Game Date: August 13, 2008
White Sox 4, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Buehrle (10-10), LP: Hochevar (6-11)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 54-66

Luke Hochevar was good, just not good enough. Of course, no pitcher is good enough to overcome an offense that doesn't score. And for the second straight night, that was the case for the Royals in Chicago. After the game, Hillman called the offensive performance pathetic (they had just five hits in the game).

Can't argue with that.

With Banny struggling the way he is, it's nice to see Hochevar get a thing or two figured out. Back on June 25, he was 5-5 with a 4.60 ERA. Eight starts later he is 6-11 with a 5.44 ERA. So, Hochevar fell into a slump about the same time Banny did. But after the first inning, his pitches had nice life on them and he stayed in the game through seven innings.

The Royals have lost six of their last seven and the schedule doesn't get any easier. After the game in Chicago this afternoon, they will head to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series there.

This afternoon, Kyle Davies (5-3, 4.66) will go up against D.J. Carrasco (1-0, 2.57). Davies is 1-1 in his career against the White Sox with a 7.04 ERA in 15.1 IP. Carrasco is 0-0 in his career against the Royals with a 2.25 ERA in 4.0 IP.

With Carrasco on the mound, things should be interesting--given what happened earlier this month. I wonder if Miguel Olivo will be in the lineup...and I wonder if John Kruk will still be as clueless.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mike Aviles, and the $1,000 Signing Bonus

If you haven't read Jeff Passan's column over at Yahoo! Sports about Mike Aviles, it's a great read.

He recounts how the Royals drafted Aviles in the seventh round of the 2003 draft and then offered him a $1,000 signing bonus. And how, even after winning the MVP of the Arizona Rookie League, and then making the Carolina League All-Star team, and then making the Texas League All-Star team, the Royals did not place him on the 40-man roster coming out of spring this year, so any team could have taken him as a Rule 5 guy for $50,000.

Obviously, none did. Thankfully.

Game 119: Kansas City @ Chicago

Game Date: August 12, 2008
White Sox 9, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Vazquez (9-10), LP: Bannister (7-11)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 54-65

Brian Bannsiter's string of starts without a win was extended to eight last night in Chicago. And you have to wonder what has happened to his season. Going into his start against the Cardinals in Kansas City on June 29, he was 7-6 with a 4.47 ERA. He gave up seven earned runs against the Cardinals and he hasn't been the same pitcher since. He was up in the zone last night and the White Sox hit three home runs off of him. Let's hope that he can figure things out soon.

Josh Newman, fresh up from Omaha, got a taste of what it feels like to be on the mound for the Royals as balls drop in and when fielders simply drop the ball. In the eighth inning, the score was just 4-0 in favor of Chicago when A.J. Pierzynski got a "double" on a pop fly that dropped in between Mike Aviles, Jason Smith, and David DeJesus. How many times has that happened this year? During the same inning, Jose Guillen dropped what he called an "easy fly ball" in left field. Before the inning was over, the White Sox scored five times.

Hopefully, the Royals can turn things around against the White Sox tonight. Luke Hochevar (6-10, 5.54) will go up against Mark Buehrle (9-10, 3.94). Hochevar is 0-1 against the White Sox in his career with a 4.80 ERA in 15.0 IP. Buehrle is 17-8 against the Royals with a 3.55 ERA in 233.0 IP.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Game 118: Minnesota @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 10, 2008
Royals 5, Twins 4 / Box Score
WP: Tejeda (1-2), LP: Breslow (0-1)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 54-64

I'm sure that when Trey Hillman inserted Tony Pena into the game yesterday as a pinch runner for Billy Butler in the eighth inning, he had no idea that Pena would end up hitting twice as the DH, but that's what happened. Here's how the Royals website set the scene for Pena's game-winning hit in the twelfth inning:

"Never mind the .148 batting average coming into the game. Never mind the 0-for-17 recent slide with sporadic at-bats. In an ironic twist of fate, Pena found himself in the designated-hitter slot late in Sunday's game against the Twins. He proceeded to go 2-for-2, including a game-winning single in the 12th that lifted the Royals to a 5-4 triumph at Kauffman Stadium."

Rather than falling into the "never mind" category, I'd say the situation falls more into the "even a broken clock is right twice a day" category. But who cares? A win is a win and it probably shouldn't have been.

Gil Meche walked seven guys. Seven. And he gave up four runs in 6.1 innings on 117 pitches. But the bullpen didn't allow the Twins to score another run and the Royals clawed their way back into the game in the eighth with two runs to tie the game, 4-4, and send it into extra innings.

Several guys had a nice day at the plate for the Royals. How about Jason Smith filling in at second base and going 2-for-5 in the nine hole? Mitch Maier continues to hit--he was 2-for-6. Mark Teahen was 3-for-5. And Tony Pena was 2-for-2.

So the Royals salvaged the final game of the series and knocked the Twins out of first place in the AL Central. The Royals also stayed ahead of the Indians by one game. When you look at the number of runs we've been outscored by this season (80), it's a miracle that we're not in last place, given that the Indians have outscored their opponents by seven runs.

The Royals are off today. They'll begin a new series in Chicago tomorrow night. That should be interesting. The rotation will get a bit of a shakeup since Zack Greinke is beginning to serve his five game suspension. Brian Bannister (7-10, 5.37) will get the start in the first game of the series. He'll go up against Javier Vazquez (8-10, 4.74). Bannister is 2-1 against the White Sox in his career with a 7.44 ERA. Vazquez is 7-2 against the Royals with a 3.24 ERA

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Royals Trade Horacio Ramirez to White Sox

After the game tonight, the Royals announced that they have traded Horacio Ramirez to the White Sox for outfielder Paulo Orlando.

Orlando, 22, was sent to Single-A Wilmington. Obviously the scouts must see something in his potential because his numbers in the minor leagues are nothing to get excited about. You can see them all here.

This season, in 111 games in A-ball, he's hitting .264, with a .310 OBP and he has 9 HR and 42 RBI. He's never hit more than nine home runs in a season. His career AVG is .260 and his career OBP is .303. He does steal bases (28 this season; 77 for his career).

Horacio Ramirez on the other hand put up good numbers out of the Royals' pen. He had a 2.59 ERA with a 0.90 WHIP in 15 appearances.

As I have in the past, I'll assume that Dayton Moore and staff know more about the player we are obtaining than I do. So I'll reserve judgment.

Eric Hosmer Update

If you are wondering what is happening with Eric Hosmer, the Royals' first round draft choice this year, check out Sam Mellinger's recent post about him.

Game 117: Minnesota @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 9, 2008
Twins 7, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Liriano (2-3), LP: Greinke (9-8)
Royal Home Runs: Olivo (11)
Royals Record: 53-64

This one wasn't on television in the Omaha market so I didn't have a chance to see it, but I listened to some of it on the radio. Unfortunately I tuned in after Greinke was already taken out of the game, but one glance at his line score pretty much says it all (9 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5.0 IP).

The Royals left 17 guys on base, so this was the second straight night in which they just couldn't come up with the big hit. Throw in Alex Gordon's error in the sixth inning that led to two runs and you have a recipe for a loss.

That's four straight losses for the Royals and they are now just one game up on Cleveland. Let's hope they can find a way to salvage the final game of the series against the Twins tomorrow.

Gil Meche (10-9, 4.17) will go up against Scott Baker (7-3, 3.86). Meche is 6-5 against the Twins in his career with a 4.66 ERA in 85.0 IP. Baker is 4-2 against the Royals with a 2.98 ERA in 48.1 IP.

Game 116: Minnesota @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 8, 2008
Twins 4, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Slowey (8-8), LP: Davies (5-3), SV: Nathan (31)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 53-63

Just when you start to get comfortable with the Royals winning, they go on a losing streak.

Kyle Davies was about as bad as I've ever seen him. He walked five guys and gave up three runs on 69 pitches before being yanked from the game after just 2.1 innings. Our bullpen was well rested after the day off, but Joel Peralta went longer than normal (3.1 innings--no runs, one hit). Horacio Ramirez and Ramon Ramirez finished the final 3.1 innings, giving up a run.

Kevin Slowey wasn't dominant, but he was good. The Royals had little trouble getting on base against him, but they only found a way to score once. The Royals even got something going against Joe Nathan in the ninth when they loaded the bases against him and brought the winning run to the plate, in the form of David DeJesus, with two outs. But Nathan got DeJesus to bounce out and the game was over.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Player Updates

Mark Grudzielanek

We may have seen the last of Mark Grudzielanek in Royal blue. He announced yesterday that he has a torn deltoid ligament on the left side of his right ankle. It won't require surgery, but it takes four to six weeks to heal. If it takes closer to six, he probably won't return this year.

Grud is a free agent after this season and the Royals haven't approached him about a contract for next season. I know he's 38 and only has a year or two left, but statistically speaking, he isn't showing any signs of decline at this point (his .345 OBP is better this year than his career average of .332), so I wouldn't mind seeing the Royals re-sign him to one more contract.

Esteban German is our utility guy right now, and it looks like that is his destiny here in KC. Alberto Callaspo can hardly be counted as the heir apparent at second base given his arrest in June for suspicion of driving under the influence (not his first run in with the law) and subsequent vanishing act after being placed on the DL. Mike Aviles could certainly handle the position, but that would mean we'd need to acquire a different shortstop to replace him because Tony Pena isn't the long term answer.

So, re-signing Grud makes sense.

John Bale

Remember John Bale--the guy who broke his hand back on May 2 when he punched a door? It looks like his season may be over. He's been pitching in Omaha with the hopes of returning to Kansas City, but he's 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA in Triple-A. And, according to Hillman, Bale's fastball is topping out at 87 mph. Now, David Boyce is reporting that Bale has "suffered another setback with his left shoulder to the point that it's starting to look doubtful he will pitch for Kansas City again this season."

Yasuhiko Yabuta

Yabuta cleared waivers and has been assigned to Omaha. Was there ever a doubt that he would clear waivers?

Game 115: Boston @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 6, 2008
Red Sox 8, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Wakefield (7-8), LP: Hochevar (6-10)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 53-62

Trey Hillman might have a knuckleball, which he threw during batting practice in order to prepare his team to face Tim Wakefield, but it didn't help much. The Royals managed just four hits and one run against him in six innings and they had a 5-2 lead when he left the game.

Luke Hochevar on the other hand struggled again, giving up five earned runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He also walked three. He continues to give up the big hit with two outs and his ERA continues to climb. Back on June 25 it was 4.60. By the end of July it was 5.38 (after going 1-3 with a 7.67 ERA for the month), and two losses later, it's up to 5.54 with a 1.50 WHIP. Yikes.

What is even more concerning is Ron Mahay getting lit up the way he did. He gave up three earned runs on four hits, including a home run, in just one inning. He's had such a great season. Let's hope it's not heading south now. He also gave up three runs in a third of an inning against the White Sox on August 2.

Other than a Ross Gload single in the fifth that brought in two runs, the offense didn't do much. Although, Billy Butler was 3-for-4 and Alex Gordon was 2-for-4. The Royals didn't draw any walks.

The Royals are off today. They'll begin a new series at home against the Twins on Friday night. Kyle Davies (5-2, 4.41) will go up against Kevin Slowey (7-8, 4.21). Davies is 2-2 in his career against the Twins with a 3.98 ERA in 20.1 IP. Slowey is 1-0 against the Royals with a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 IP.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Game 114: Boston @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 5, 2008
Red Sox 8, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Beckett (10-8), LP: Bannister (7-10)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 53-61

Given the way Brian Bannister has been struggling as of late, I didn't have a great feeling about this pitching match up going in. Banny hasn't won a game since June 23 against Colorado. His ERA in July was 7.20. And he hasn't gone more than 5.1 innings since July 9. He lasted just four innings last night, while giving up three earned runs on six hits and two walks. He threw 87 pitches. We know that he's better than this. He was 12-9 last season with a 3.87 ERA in 27 starts. But you have to wonder how much longer he'll have a chance to turn things around before Hillman removes him from the rotation.

Leo Nunez continues to struggle as well. He gave up three runs on six hits in 1.1 innings yesterday.

Unfortunately, the Royals just couldn't get the bats going against Josh Beckett--who allowed just four hits in 6.2 innings. The Royals managed just five hits for the game.

Did you have a chance to see the bizarre play in the seventh inning when Jason Bay hit a deep fly ball to center field? Mitch Maier looked like he was going to catch it but it hit off the heel of his glove and rolled on top of the outfield wall for several feet before an alert Ross Gload jumped up and knocked the ball off the wall to prevent a home run. has an article about the play and a video posted if you'd like to check it out.

Tonight, Luke Hochevar (6-9, 5.42) will go up against Tim Wakefield (6-8, 3.77). Hochevar is 0-1 in his career against the Red Sox with a 6.00 ERA in 6.0 IP. Wakefield is 10-6 in his career against the Royals with a 3.89 ERA in 136.2 IP.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sweeney's Season May be Over

For those of you who are still interested in following Mike Sweeney's career, the Mercury News is reporting that Sweeney's left knee is locking up on him and he may need to undergo microfracture surgery, which would end his season, and maybe his career.

He plans to go into evaluation mode for the next ten days and if it isn't any better then, then he'll have the season ending surgery.

Sweeney already had arthroscopic surgery on both knees on June 11, but according to the story, microfracture surgery is much more serious. It repairs cartilage damage and requires six to nine months of recovery.

It looks like he'll play in even less games for the A's this year (40 so far) than he did for the Royals last year (74). Unfortunately, his body has been his biggest nemesis and it looks like it might force him out of the game at the age of 34.

For the record, I hope it doesn't.

Game 113: Boston @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 4, 2008
Royals 4, Red Sox 3 / Box Score
WP: Meche (10-9), LP: Buchholz (2-7), SV: Soria (32) 
Royal Home Runs: Gordon (13)
Royals Record: 53-60

With the win last night, the Royals have won seven of their last eight games. Since the All-Star break, they are 10-7. And they are currently on pace to win 76 games. I don't think any of us would complain if they won that many games this year.

Gil Meche won his fourth game in a row last night and is now 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA in his last 11 starts. He lowered his ERA to 4.17 for the season and he's settled into being that solid constant in the rotation that Dayton Moore hoped for when he gave him all that money. He didn't have good command last night. In fact, he walked five guys, but he also struck out nine. Trey Hillman called him "effectively wild." He couldn't get his pitches down, but it didn't matter because the Red Sox kept swinging at pitches at shoulder level.

The Red Sox struck first with two runs in the first. Alex Gordon answered with a solo home run down the right field line in the second. Mark Teahen singled in a run in the third. Billy Butler got a run home with a sacrifice fly to right during the same inning. And John Buck was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in the third run of the inning.

There were plenty of tense moments late in the game. With the Royals up 4-2 in the eighth inning, Ron Mahay came in to face Jason Varitek with two outs and runners at the corners. Mahay struck him out to preserve the lead. Then in the ninth the Red Sox scored a run and then loaded the bases against Joakim Soria with two outs and Sean Casey at the plate. Soria got him to fly out to right to end the game.

One of the odd things about the last few games the Royals have won is that they are doing it without David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek. Mitch Maier is more than holding his own in centerfield (and he's currently hitting .310) and Esteban German is playing well at second base. Of course, having Mike Aviles play so well that he was named AL co-player of the week (he hit .577 with 7 R, 2 HR, and 5 RBI) hasn't hurt matters either.

Tonight, Brian Bannister (7-9, 5.33) will go up against Josh Beckett (9-8, 4.15). Bannister is 0-2 in his career against the Red Sox with an 8.74 ERA in 11.1 IP. Beckett is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA against the Royals in 27.0 IP.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Game 112: Chicago @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 3, 2008
Royals 14, White Sox 3 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (9-7), LP: Richard (0-2), 
Royal Home Runs: Aviles (7), Guillen (16)
Royals Record: 52-60

If you listen to John Kruk, the fight that took place in this game occurred between a "last place team" and a "first place team" and that Carrasco had no reason to throw at Olivo. 

Well, not so fast. First off, Kruk needs to look at the standings. The Royals are not in last place--nor have they been for a while. Second, he needs to look at the evidence.

The Royals scored 25 runs during this three games series. And after embarrassing Buehrle last night, and getting into their pen, the Royals did more of the same against Richard and company this afternoon. And the normally thunderless lineup of the Royals hit five home runs over the last two days. After Carrasco hit Olivo, the Royals were up 7-0 and the game was virtually over. So, why wouldn't the White Sox be susceptible to take out a little frustration? Did I mention that the once first place White Sox have lost two straight series to the Royals in the last two weeks?

And is Kruk's memory so bad that he can't remember what happened on June 4 when Octavio Dotel hit Jose Guillen and Olivo? And does he not know that the Royals hit five White Sox players a couple of weeks ago? So, there's bad blood between the two teams. Why is it so hard to believe that Carrasco might have hit Olivo on purpose?

And then you have to consider what happened in 2007. The Royals were hit by 89 pitches--second only to Philadelphia (90). By contrast, they only hit 41 guys (29th lowest in MLB)--second to last behind the Dodgers with 38. Clearly, our pitchers didn't go out of the way last season to protect our hitters. That fact was mentioned more than once during Spring Training and it seemed like the pitchers on staff this season were willing to do a little more than they did last season.

This season, we've had 35 guys HBP. And we've hit 26 guys. I'd like to see it a little more even (because we're still ranked near the bottom in hitting guys) just to put teams on notice that we cannot be pushed around.

So, did Carrasco hit Olivo on purpose? I wouldn't be surprised. And even if he didn't, by coming way up and in three times in one at bat, he should have expected Olivo to come after him.

Watching Ozzie Guillen throw a tirade was both irritating and comical. He makes Lou Pinella look like Mr. Rogers.

After the dust settled, five guys were rejected: Carrasco, Olivo, Ozzie Guillen, Trey Hillman, and Zack Greinke. Zack did what he had to do in retaliation. I'm just glad he did it the way he did--waiting until the 7th, after his pitch count neared 90...and then hitting Nick Swisher in the hip. Zack didn't go head-hunting.

Suspensions will surely follow. Hopefully Ozzie's will be an extra game or two for making this remark:

"This time they kicked our [rears]," Guillen said. "But be ready for the warning because I signed a five-year deal with this club, and we're going to play Kansas City a lot. I don't say be careful. They played with fire, and I respect everyone on the pro level. But enough is enough."

Is Ozzie's "warning" enough for Kruk to believe that the next incident might just be intentional? We'll find out soon enough. We play the White Sox again next week in Chicago.

You hate to have such an incident overshadow what the Royals did on the field. Mike Aviles was 4-for-4 with 3 RBI and raised his average to .340. Jose Guillen was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Billy Butler was 3-for-5 with 2 RBI. Alex Gordon was 2-for-4. Mitch Maier was 3-for-5 with an RBI. And Olivo was 1-for-2 with 3 RBI.

Zack Greinke pitched well. He gave up just two earned runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. After he was ejected, Robinson Tejeda pitched the final 2.2 innings to finish off the Sox.

The Royals will begin a new series at home tomorrow night against the Red Sox. Gil Meche (9-9, 4.22) will go up against Clay Buchholz (2-6, 5.94). Meche is 4-2 in his career against the Red Sox with a 3.69 ERA. Buchholz has never faced the Royals.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Game 111: Chicago @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 2, 2008
Royals 9, White Sox 7 / Box Score
WP: Davies (5-2), LP: Buehrle (8-10), SV: Soria (31)
Royal Home Runs: Butler (7), Guillen (15), Olivo (10)
Royals Record: 51-60

No matter what the dimensions of the stadium and no matter what era we're talking about, when August rolls around in Kansas City, home runs start flying out of Kauffman Stadium. Yesterday, both teams combined for seven dingers. So it's probably safe to say that pitching wasn't exactly at a premium.

The Royals pummeled Mark Buehrle for eight earned runs on fourteen hits in 4.1 innings. Kyle Davies wasn't great, but he was good enough--giving up three earned runs on five hits in 5.1 innings, picking up his fifth win of the season in the process.

The Royals got down 3-0 early and came storming back in the second and third inning. Billy Butler's third inning home run gave the Royals a 4-3 lead. The Royals scored three more runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth. But the White Sox played a little long ball in the eighth and got to within one run. Miguel Olivo hit a solo home run in the eighth to extend the lead to two runs.

And Joakim Soria was called upon to get a five-out save. He ended up throwing 27 pitches, but he closed the door on the White Sox and helped to preserve the Royals fifth win in their last six games.

Zack Greinke (8-7, 3.98) will go up against Clayton Richard (0-1, 9.35) this afternoon. Greinke is 2-8 in his career against the White Sox with a 5.10 ERA in 83.0 IP. Richard has never faced the Royals.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Game 110: Chicago @ Kansas City

Game Date: August 1, 2008
White Sox 4, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Vazquez (8-9), LP: Hochevar (6-9), SV: Jenks (22)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 50-60

The Royals lost more than the game last night.

Did you see Mark Grudzielanek's injury occur? Nasty stuff. Ross Gload and Grud were chasing a pop up in short right field and Gload looked like he bailed out at the last minute and when he hit the ground, he fell on the back of Grud's legs and turned Grud's ankle something fierce. It made my stomach queasy. But Grud hobbled off the field with some help and he was putting some weight on his injured leg. X-rays were negative, but he's experiencing swelling. I'm guessing that it'll take a few days before we see him back in the lineup.

David DeJesus also left the game with an ankle injury. He jammed his ankle going back to first base on a pick-off attempt. He too is experiencing swelling and is considered day to day. So, the Royals might have a makeshift line up in tonight.

This game turned out to be the Ken Griffey Jr. show. The new acquired outfielder was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI.

Luke Hochevar had a decent outing going until he ran into trouble in the sixth. I'm not sure why Hillman left him in the game after he gave up a single, a wild pitch, and another single during that inning, but he did leave him in and the White Sox expanded their lead from 1-0 to 4-0 by the time Hochevar got out of the inning.

The Royals began to claw their way back in the sixth. Mike Aviles drew a walk, Grud singled, and Billy Butler drove in Aviles with a single. Alex Gordon followed Butler with a sacrifice fly and Grud scored. The Royals got something going in the seventh as well. Ross Gload singled to lead off the inning. John Buck walked. But Hillman elected to play small ball with Esteban German--who couldn't get a bunt down, and indeed ended up striking out after he fouled a bunt off on strike three. Turns out that the bunt sign wasn't on once the count got to 3-2, but German tried to bunt anyway. Mitch Maier and Aviles followed with ground outs and the threat was over.

So the winning streak is over and now the Royals will look to get back on track tonight. Kyle Davies (4-2, 4.34) will go up against Mark Buehrle (8-9, 3.69). Davies is 0-1 in his career against the White Sox with an 8.10 ERA in 10.0 IP. Buehrle is 17-7 against the Royals with a 3.31 ERA in 228.2 IP.

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