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.

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