Sunday, September 28, 2008


I'm currently working on assignment at the Kansas Speedway, covering a couple of NASCAR races for a publication I write for. That's why my normal posting schedule has come to a halt during this last series of the year. I'm still following the Royals and will post about the final series on Monday or Tuesday. Then I'll write a post about my overall thoughts regarding the 2008 season. So, stop back when you get a chance.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Game 159: Kansas City @ Detroit

Game Date: September 24, 2008
Royals 10, Tigers 4 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (9-16), LP: Robertson (7-11)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 73-86

Ending up in fourth place in the AL Central means more to the Royals than ending up fourth does to most teams. The Royals haven't finished better than last since 2003--which was really the last time Kansas City was excited about the team. Finishing fourth means a small improvement and small improvements are all any of us really expect.

And you get the feeling that if the current group of players gets a boost of confidence, then maybe, just maybe it'll help in the long run. It certainly can't hurt anything as we head into the off season.

Brian Bannister returned to the mound last night that he started the year on in Detroit and the result was the same. He got a win. He pitched six shutout innings last night, giving up seven hits and one walk. Nate Robertson, on the other hand, had a nightmare game. The Royals hit him early and often.

The Royals got on the board first with an RBI single in the second inning by Tony Pena. John Buck drove in the second run in the fourth inning with a single to left. Then in the fifth, the Royals blew the game open with seven runs as they batted around.

After the game, Jim Leyland said the Royals "kicked our fannies."

The only negative in the game was an injury that happened to David DeJesus in the first inning after he swung and missed strike three. He tweaked his right hip flexor. No word on whether he'll be available for the Minnesota series.

The Royals are off tonight. Tomorrow night they will begin the final series of the year in Minnesota and it'll be a playoff-like atmosphere since the Twins are just a half a game out of first place in the Central. Kyle Davies (8-7, 4.21) will go up against Francisco Liriano (6-3, 3.39). Davies is 2-4 against the Twins in his career with a 5.08 ERA in 28.1 IP. Liriano is 2-1 against the Royals with a 3.80 ERA in 21.1 IP.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Game 158: Kansas City @ Detroit

Game Date: September 23, 2008
Royals 5, Tigers 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (13-10), LP: Garcia (1-1)
Royal Home Runs: Aviles (9), Shealy (7), Gordon (16)
Royals Record: 72-86

The Royals continue to win and with the victory last night, they slipped past the Tigers into fourth place. Who knows if they'll be able to stay there, but seeing the Royals play good baseball down the stretch has been a rare treat for Royals fans.

Zack Greinke was lights out--giving up just four hits and no runs in seven innings. His performance prompted Jim Leyland to say this after the game:

"When you throw 97-98 [mph] with a good hook and a changeup and locate the ball pretty good, he probably would've shut a lot of teams out tonight, no matter what lineup we had in there," Leyland said. "I thought he pitched very, very well."

When you look at what Greinke and Gil Meche have done this year, and then throw in Kyle Davies, the Royals look to have a solid 1-2-3 punch in their starting rotation for 2009. Throw in a Brian Bannister and a Luke Hochevar--hopefully both of whom will get back on track--and we have the potential to have a legitimate rotation.

Mike Aviles and Ryan Shealy went deep again in this game. And Alex Gordon hit a home run too.

Gordon's overall numbers are still not as good as I was hoping for (in fact, they are comparable to last season with the exception of his OBP was has climbed from .314 to .351 this season), but he's still just 24. I'd like to think he'll improve over the next couple of seasons.

Alberto Callaspo was noticeably absent from the lineup last night. Turns out that he hurt his left thigh a couple of nights ago sliding into home, so he needed a day off. He may be back in the lineup tonight. Whenever he comes back, he'll bring a 16-game hitting streak with him, which is currently tied for the longest streak of the year for the Royals. David DeJesus had one earlier this season.

Leo Nunez was outstanding out of the pen again. He didn't allow any hits or runs over the final two innings.

Tonight, Brian Bannister (8-16, 5.96) will go up against Nate Robertson (7-10, 6.15). Bannister is 3-2 in his career against the Tigers with a 2.48 ERA in 32.2 IP. Robertson is 4-5 against the Royals with a 5.70 ERA in 66.1 IP.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Game 157: Kansas City @ Detroit

Game Date: September 22, 2008
Royals 6, Tigers 2 / Box Score
WP: Meche (13-11), LP: Miner (8-5)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 71-86

The Royals won their fourteenth game of the month last night (against just seven losses) behind the strong efforts of Gil Meche and David DeJesus.

Meche picked up his thirteenth win of the year, and with only one start to go, put himself in a position in which he's guaranteed to end up over .500 for the year. The questions about whether he was worth the $55 million over five seasons are gone. The doubts that he'll ever develop into a good Major League pitcher are gone as well. The questions and doubts have turned to minor praise for a guy who has been able to go 21-24 with a 3.85 ERA over the past two seasons for a Royals club that has been at or near the bottom of most major offensive statistical categories.

David DeJesus was 4-for-4 last night and fell just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. He raised his average to .307 in what has been a breakout season for him. He's twenty points over his lifetime batting average. He has three more home runs than he's ever had in a season. He has fifteen more RBI than he's ever had. He's stolen more basis than ever before. His OBP is higher too. And he just seems to have a presence about him this season that I haven't seen before. He looks like he finally believes that he belongs in the Major Leagues and that he has a major role to play on this team.

Mike Aviles also continues to be impressive. He was 2-for-5 with 2 RBI last night and he raised his average to .319. If Alberto Callaspo can keep up his level of play next season (and if he can stay out of trouble), the middle of the infield looks to be quite solid. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Moore go after another second baseman though--just in case. Or maybe he could land a shortstop and Aviles could move to second, which he seems better suited for.

Ramon Ramirez threw two scoreless innings last night and he picked up his twentieth hold of the season. And John Bale pitched another inning of scoreless ball--that is nine straight appearances in which he hasn't given up a run. The last time he gave up a run was in April, before he punched a door and landed himself of the DL for most of the season.

The Royals are just one game behind Detroit for fourth place in the AL Central. This series could decide who ends up in the basement. Tonight in Detroit, Zack Greinke (12-10, 3.59) will go up against Freddy Garcia (1-0, 0.00). Greinke is 7-4 in his career against the Tigers with a 3.50 ERA in 72.0 IP. Garcia is 8-10 against the Royals with a 6.01 ERA in 127.1 IP.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Game 156: Chicago @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 21, 2008
White Sox 3, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Danks (11-8), LP: Duckworth (3-2), SV: Jenks (29)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 70-86

Brandon Duckworth wasn't horrible (5 H, 1 BB, 3 ER in 6.0 IP), but John Danks was just better in this one. He shutout the Royals for seven innings.

Unfortunately, this was the final home game of 2008, and you hate to lose that particular game, but we still have six games left. Hopefully we can find a way to win most of them.

The Royals begin a new series tonight in Detroit. Gil Meche (12-11, 4.08) will go up against Zach Miner (8-4, 4.16). Meche is 7-4 in his career against the Tigers with a 3.75 ERA in 105.2 IP. Miner is 3-2 against the Royals with a 3.82 ERA in 33.0 IP.

Game 155: Chicago @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 20, 2008
Royals 5, White Sox 2 / Box Score
WP: Davies (8-7), LP: Floyd (16-8), SV: Soria (41)
Royal Home Runs: Gordon (15), DeJesus (12), Ka'aihue (1)
Royals Record: 70-85

There was a time in August when I didn't think the 70-win mark was attainable for the Royals, but behind a solid effort from Kyle Davies, they've reached it.

Davies won his eighth game of the season and has established himself in the rotation. He described his recent approach after the game:

"It's the tempo and the mindset on the mound that has changed the whole thing," Davies said. "It's not about trying to hit corners. It's about getting my best stuff to home plate and let's see what happens."

So far, good things are happening.

Throw in three home runs and five runs of support and that was plenty for Davies in this one.

John Bale had another good outing, throwing a scoreless inning and lowering his ERA to 4.74. Joakim Soria picked up his 41st save of the season and lowered his ERA to 1.63.

Alex Gordon hit his 15th home run of the season. Most fans probably hoped for more from his this season and their hopes really haven't been fulfilled. Gordon is hitting low in a batting order that doesn't have a lot of punch to begin with and he isn't hitting for average or power. He's hitting just .258 with 55 RBI. And it sounds like he isn't a lock at third next year. The Royals have finally noticed that Mark Teahen may deserve to be playing there instead. Hopefully Hillman will move Gordon to first base next year.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Game 154: Chicago @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 19, 2008
White Sox 9, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Buehrle (14-11), LP: Bannister (8-16)
Royal Home Runs: Teahen (15)
Royals Record: 69-85

Well, you knew it had to end sometime. The seven-game winning streak came to a screeching halt last night. The White Sox hit Brian Bannister hard (8 H, 2 BB, 7 ER, 2 HR in 5.0 IP) while Mark Buehrle kept the Royals in check long enough to end the streak.

Mark Teahen hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to cut the White Sox lead to 6-3 but it wasn't enough to combat the four long balls the White Sox hit.

After the game, Trey Hillman said something that I've been saying since Spring Training about Mark Teahen playing third base:

"He has looked very natural over there," Hillman said. "I think he has done a very good job. To me, he seems to be a little bit more comfortable in the infield. That's my perception. But we still want to get Alex [Gordon] out there as well."

I know that we are taking a look at Ryan Shealy and Kila Ka'aihue over at first, and that Billy Butler probably figures into the mix as well, but I'd sure like to see Alex Gordon get a shot at playing first base so that Teahen could stay at third.

Tonight, Kyle Davies (7-7, 4.32) goes up against Gavin Floyd (16-7, 3.73). Davies is 1-2 in his career against the White Sox with a 6.64 ERA in 20.1 IP. Floyd is 1-2 against the Royals with a 2.57 ERA in 21.0 IP.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Game 153: Seattle @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 18, 2008
Royals 12, Mariners 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (12-10), LP: Feierabend (1-4)
Royal Home Runs: Aviles (8)
Royals Record: 69-84

The Royals seventh win in a row yesterday afternoon puts them one win away from winning more games this year than last. With nine games to go in the season, let's hope they can continue their winning ways so can reach the mid-70s. Mark Teahen is certainly hoping that this winning streak will be the turning point for the team. Here's what he said after the game:

"We've been saying all year that it's important to take a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this little streak puts us in position to look back on this year as a step in the right direction."

Zack Greinke was nearly unhittable yesterday. He gave up just two hits and one walk in seven scoreless innings. After the game, he talked about why he was successful:

"One thing that hurt them is it looked like they were trying to be patient early in the game, and my goal was to attack them," he said. "And they were taking pitches they should have been swinging at."

While Zack was busy mowing down the opposition, the Royals' offense was busy pounding out twelve runs on thirteen hits. Mike Aviles had the big blow--a three-run home run in the third inning. Mark Teahen was 3-for-3 with an RBI. Alex Gordon was 1-for-3 with 2 RBI and 2 BB. And Mitch Maier was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI.

Tonight, life gets a little tougher for the Royals as they begin a three game series at home (the last home stand of the season) against the White Sox. Brian Bannister (8-15, 5.77) will go up against Mark Buehrle (13-11, 3.85). Bannister is 2-2 in his career against the White Sox with a 7.03 ERA in 39.2 IP. Buehrle is 18-8 against the Royals with a 3.45 ERA in 240.0 IP.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Game 152: Seattle @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 17, 2008
Royals 5, Mariners 2 / Box Score
WP: Meche (12-11), LP: Corcoran (5-2), SV: Soria (40)
Royal Home Runs: Shealy (6)
Royals Record: 68-84

Do you remember how all of us felt before the Royals collapsed last season in September? Their record was awful, but they played .500 ball for three months and we thought that we might finally be on the road back to respectability. Here's a blurb from a post I wrote after the Royals beat C.C. Sabathia and the Indians 2-1 last August 24:

As Joe Posnanski pointed out in his column this morning, the Royals are 18-16 in one-run games this year. They have two potential rookie of the year candidates in Brian Bannister and Joakim Soria. And they've been playing .500 ball for the last three months. Not bad for a team that was the butt of jokes just one season ago.

Then the Royals went 9-19 in September and it pretty much killed any momentum we had built.

The opposite seems to be happening this year. We've had a roller coaster season, but the Royals won just seven times in August, and an even bigger collapse than last season seemed to be in progress. Then September hit and the Royals are 11-5. They've won six games in a row. Ryan Shealy has returned from the dead. Hitters are playing situational baseball. Pitchers are finding a way to keep opponents off balance. And if the Royals can find a way to keep this up for another ten games, fans might go digging for their optimism by the time the 2009 season rolls around.

We're several players short of being a real threat, but wouldn't it be nice to just play .500 ball for a season?

I was impressed with Gil Meche yesterday. He gave up two runs in the first inning and you had to wonder if he was even going to be able to get out of the inning. But he weathered the storm and got through seven innings. The Royals struck for three runs in the bottom half of the seventh to give Meche the win. 

Ryan Shealy hit yet another home run...this time to left field. He says that he's never experienced such a power surge before.

And Jose Guillen was back from his mystery day off. He did what he often does--he drove in runs--two of them in seventh inning and it turned out to be the game-winning hit. That's what you get with Guillen; lots of controversy, a bad attitude, and lots of RBI. Is it worth it? Before the season I thought it probably was, now I don't.

Joakim Soria picked up his 40th save of the season and he's quickly climbing the charts as one of the best closers in the history of the franchise. In fact, his 57 career saves puts him fourth on the all-time saves list for the Royals and he's just one save shy of tying Doug Bird who had 58 career saves from 1973-1978. He won't catch Dan Quisenberry (238 saves) or Jeff Montgomery (304 saves) any time soon, but he's off to a great start.

This afternoon, Zack Greinke (11-10, 3.73) will go up against Ryan Feierabend (1-3, 5.79). Greinke is 1-0 in his career against the Mariners with a 3.26 ERA in 30.1 IP. Feierabend is 0-1 against the Royals with a 16.88 ERA in 5.1 IP.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Game 151: Seattle @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 16, 2008
Royals 6, Mariners 3 / Box Score
WP: Duckworth (3-1), LP: Morrow (2-4), SV: Soria (39)
Royal Home Runs: Buck (9), DeJesus (11), Shealy (5)
Royals Record: 67-84

It's amazing what a five game winning streak can  do, isn't it? The Royals have been so streaky all year, that it would be hard to describe this season. But if they could end the year on a high note by winning the majority of their final eleven games, it would probably be enough to make most fans dream a little about next year.

The lineup looks so different with a healthy Ryan Shealy in the middle of it. And I like Mike Aviles hitting third as well. The Royals hit three home runs last night; Shealy hit his fifth since coming up from Omaha on September 2 and he made a nice play over at first base on a bad throw from Alex Gordon.

Brandon Duckworth won his third game since coming up from Omaha on August 24 by allowing just two earned runs on five hits and two walks in six innings. His fastball had a lot of life to it and it moved all over the place. 

Jose Guillen was a late scratch and after the game Trey Hillman said, "I just made a late managerial decision to not play him." When a reporter asked him if Guillen was hurt, Hillman repeated himself, and then went a little further by saying, "The rest of it will stay in-house, from me, at least. I just decided it was best not to play him." Later, when contacted by telephone, Guillen said he was sick. Does Hillman's answer sound at all like that could be true--or is this yet another incident we can add to Guillen's list of screw ups?

Tonight, Gil Meche (11-11, 4.14) will go up against Ryan Rowland-Smith (4-2, 3.65). Meche is 1-1 in his career against the Mariners with a 5.01 ERA in 23.1 IP. Rowland-Smith is 0-0 against the Royals with a 5.79 ERA in 4.2 IP.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Game 150: Seattle @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 15, 2008
Royals 3, Mariners 0 / Box Score
WP: Davies (7-7), LP: Silva (4-15), SV: Soria (38)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 66-84

Will the real Kyle Davies please stand up?

Remember Kyle Davis' fast start when he first came up from Omaha? He went 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA in June. Then he hit a wall. In July his ERA was 5.61 and in August it was 5.79. Then September rolled around and after his outstanding performance last night, he's 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA for the month.

If you read this article, his turnaround is a result of a change in attitude after his birthday last week. He said that he needed to stop pitching like a 33- or 34-year-old and pitch more like a guy his age (25) should--aggressively. He certainly was aggressive last night. He threw 98 pitches over eight scoreless innings and 66 of them were strikes.

The Mariners's pitching staff didn't give up much either. Mike Aviles scored the first run of the game for the Royals in the first inning on a wild pitch. In the fourth inning, Mark Teahen hit a 2-1 pitch into center field for a RBI single. And David DeJesus drove in the final run in the seventh inning.

Four Royals had two or more hits. Mike Aviles was 2-for-4. Jose Guillen was 2-for-4. Ryan Shealy was 2-for-4. And Teahen was 3-for-4 with an RBI.

The Royals have won four games in a row and improved their record in September to 9-5.

Tonight, it'll be the Battle of the Brandon when Brandon Duckworth (2-1, 5.85) goes up against Brandon Morrow (2-3, 1.64). Duckworth is 0-1 in his career against the Mariners with a 4.35 ERA in 10.1 IP. Morrow is 1-2 against the Royals with a 5.06 ERA in 5.1 IP.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Game 149: Kansas City @ Cleveland

Game Date: September 14, 2008
Royals 13, Indians 3 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (8-15), LP: Mujica (2-2)
Royal Home Runs: Shealy 2 (4)
Royals Record: 65-84

Brian Bannister finally ripped the monkey off his back and got a win for the first time since June 23.

And the Royals offense continued to score tons of runs. They scored thirteen times on seventeen hits and when you look at the box score, it hardly seems real, given how poor we've been at the plate this season.

Ryan Shealy hit two more home runs and ended the day going 3-for-5 with five RBI. If he keeps hitting them at this pace, he may make a run at the team lead. Yeah, that's a joke, also contains an element of truth.

Mike Aviles was 3-for-5. Alberto Callaspo was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI. Jose Guillen was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI. Alex Gordon (who returned to the lineup this afternoon) was 2-for-5. And Esteban German was 2-for-5.

Where has all this offense been all season?

The bullpen was good again. John Bale threw another scoreless inning (he hasn't given up a single run since he came off the DL). Jimmy Gobble lowered his ERA under 10.00 for the first time since July. Even Yasuhiko Yabuta got in on the act and threw a scoreless inning.

The Royals are now 8-5 in September. Maybe we will finally end the season on a good note.

Tomorrow, the Royals begin a new series at home against Seattle. Kyle Davies (6-7, 4.70) will go up against Carlos Silva (4-14, 6.53). Davies is 0-0 in his career against the Mariners with a 3.86 ERA in 7.0 IP. Silva is 5-3 against the Royals with a 4.15 ERA in 78.0 IP.

Game 148: Kansas City @ Cleveland

Game Date: September 13, 2008
Royals 8, Indians 4 / Box Score
WP: Tejeda (2-2), LP: Bullington (0-1), SV: Soria (37)
Royal Home Runs: Shealy (2), Teahen 2 (14)
Royals Record: 64-84

What's this? Extra base hits for the Royals?

Ryan Shealy gave the Royals an early lead in the second inning of Game Two when he belted a home run to right field. Mark Teahen hit a home run to center in the fourth inning. Alberto Callaspo tripled to right in the fourth. And Teahen hit another home run (this time to right) in the fifth inning.

After the dust settled, Robinson Tejeda found himself on the winning side of a 6-1 lead after five innings. He was working on an 80-pitch limit and he made the most out of it. He got through the fifth inning, giving up just one earned run on two hits a three walks.

Ron Mahay took over from there and gave up an earned run over the next two innings. After a scoreless inning from Ramon Ramirez, Devon Lowery struggled, giving up two runs on four hits, but Joakim Soria came to the rescue and picked up his thirty-seventh save of the year.

Ryan Shealy had a huge game at the plate, going 4-for-5 with 2 RBI and the aforementioned home run. Wouldn't you just love to see what this guy could do if he could ever stay healthy? Miguel Olivo was 3-for-5 with 3 RBI. Alberto Callaspo was 2-for-5 with an RBI. And David DeJesus was 2-for-3 with a walk.

With the sweep of the double-header, the Royals are on pace to win 70 games. Unfortunately, that's just not enough improvement over last season. Let's hope they find a way to win 70 anyway.

This afternoon, Brian Bannister (7-15, 5.81) will go up against Jeremy Sowers (3-8, 5.60). Bannister is 2-1 in his career against the Indians with a 1.33 ERA in 27.0 IP. Sowers is 2-1 against the Royals with a 2.50 ERA in 18.0 IP.

Game 147: Kansas City @ Cleveland

Game Date: September 13, 2008
Royals 8, Indians 3 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (11-10), LP: Carmona (8-7)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 63-84

Zack Greinke picked up his eleventh win of the season in Game One of the day-night double-header against the Indians yesterday. And in true Greinke-like fashion, he was honest afterward about how he felt going into the game in Cleveland (a place he hasn't pitched well in in the past).

"Like the White Sox, I'm nervous when I'm facing them, but the Indians, I'm not," Greinke said. "Even if they have hit me good, I feel confident every time."

If you didn't follow Greinke's career, you'd think this would be bulletin board material for his next encounter against them. But if you do follow his career, then you know he wasn't being cocky (he was just 1-5 against the Indians in Cleveland in the past). He was just telling you how he genuinely felt without any disrespect to the Indians. Not many other guys could pull that off.

The Indians struck first in this one, scoring a run in the first inning, but the Royals answered in the third when Mike Aviles singled in a run to tie the game 1-1, and then Mark Teahen singled in a run later in the inning to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. The Indians tied the game in the fifth, but again, the Royals responded. In the sixth inning, Ross Gload singled in Billy Butler and Alberto Callaspo singled in Teahen to make it 4-2. The Royals scored four more runs in the seventh and knocked Fausto Carmona out of the game.

Mitch Maier made his return to the lineup and got the start in center. I'll be interested to see how he performs over the final couple of weeks of the season. He was 1-for-4 last night.

Greinke lasted six innings. John Bale and Leo Nunez pitched well in relief over the final three innings, giving up no hits, walks, or runs.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Game 146: Kansas City @ Cleveland

Game Date: September 12, 2008 
Indians 12, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Lee (22-2), LP: Meche (11-11) 
Royal Home Runs: Guillen 2 (20)
Royals Record: 62-84

Cliff Lee did it again. He beat the Royals last night for the fifth time in 2008, which means that 22.7% of his wins this season have come against us. Of course, the Royals are in his division, so he's going to match up against us more often, but still, to win five games against one club in one season is phenomenal.

You might be surprised to find out that Lee isn't the first guy to do it against the Royals though. Dick Kaegel says that Wilbur Wood (White Sox) went 5-0 against the Royals in 1971 and Nolan Ryan (Angels) went 5-1 against us in 1974.

Gil Meche, on the other hand, got knocked around last night. He gave up six earned runs on ten hits in five innings. Kip Wells was even worse. He gave up three earned runs in a third of an inning.

Jose Guillen hit two home runs (one to center and one to right), but the Royals weren't a threat after the Indians scored four runs in the fifth inning to give them a 6-1 lead.

The Royals will play a day-night double header today.

In the first game, Zack Greinke (10-10, 3.70) will go up against Fausto Carmona (8-6, 4.88). Greinke is 3-8 in his career against the Indians with a 4.00 ERA in 69.2 IP. Carmona is 4-0 against the Royals with a 3.46 ERA in 41.2 IP.

In the second game, Robinson Tejeda (1-2, 4.19) will go up against Bryan Bullington who has not pitched at the Major League level this season. Tejeda is 0-1 in his career against the Indians with a 3.86 ERA in 9.1 IP. Bullington has never faced the Royals.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Game 145: Kansas City @ Minnesota

Game Date: September 11, 2008 
Royals 3, Twins 2 / Box Score
WP: Ramirez (3-2), LP: Guerrier (6-8), SV: Soria (36) 
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 62-83

Well, I didn't see that one coming. The Duckworth vs. Liriano match up hardly seemed to be in our favor on paper. And in reality, it wasn't in our favor on the field either. They both gave up two runs, but Liriano pitched eight innings while Duckworth lasted just five.

Both teams scored both of their runs early. The Royals scored their first run in the second inning. Miguel Olivo led off the inning with a double; Ryan Shealy flied out to center, moving Olivo to third; and Esteban German doubled in Olivo. Then in the third Mike Aviles tripled with out out and Jose Guillen drove him in with a double.

The Royals' bullpen was outstanding. Ron Mahay pitched 1.2 innings without giving up a run. John Bale pitched 1.1 innings without any giving up any hits or runs. Ramon Ramirez struck out two and didn't allow any runs in the inning he pitched. And Joakim Soria got the save.

The Royals took the lead in the top of the tenth. Mark Teahen singled with one out. Alberto Callaspo followed him with a single. And David DeJesus singled in Teahen.

Hopefully the Royals enjoy this win because they face Cliff Lee (21-2, 2.28 ERA) again tomorrow. Gil Meche (11-10, 3.96) will take the mound for the Royals. Meche is 4-7 in his career against the Twins with a 4.91 ERA in 95.1 IP. Lee is 11-4 against the Royals with a 4.49 ERA in 108.1 IP.

More on Sweeney

In light of Mike Sweeney's recent release by the A's, and the fact that his career may be over, here's a link to a post I wrote back in February called Honoring Mike Sweeney--just in case you missed it.

Game 144: Kansas City @ Minnesota

Game Date: September 10, 2008
Twins 7, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Slowey (12-9), LP: Davies (6-7) 
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 61-83

You can add one more American League pitcher who has our number: Kevin Slowey. He's faced us three times this season and he won all three games. In fact, he has been so dominant against us that he hasn't even given up more than one run in a game against us. He is 12-9 with a 3.63 ERA overall though, so at least we aren't the only team who can't figure him out.

This game is yet another in a long line of recent games in which we were out-pitched and out-hit. The Royals managed just six hits last night and it would be nice if we could say that we are in evaluation mode and therefore are playing a lot of young guys, but that's not the case. Alberto Callaspo is playing out of necessity after the injury to Mark Grudzielanek and Jason Smith is seeing action because Alex Gordon went down. Beyond that, you're seeing a lot of regulars every night and they just aren't getting the job done.

If you're looking for a positive, maybe one can be found in Jimmy Gobble's recent performances. He gave up two hits in 0.2 innings last night, but he didn't give up any runs. In his three appearances since being recalled in early September, he hasn't give up a run. The last time he gave up a run was that disastrous games against Detroit on July 21 in which he gave up ten runs. That performance landed him on the DL. Since coming back, he's dropped his ERA by over a run, but it is still 10.21. There's only so much you can do when you've given up 31 earned runs in 27.1 innings.

I hope your expectations aren't high for the game this afternoon. Brandon Duckworth (2-1, 6.60) goes up against Francisco Liriano (5-3, 3.33). Duckworth is 1-1 in his career against the Twins with a 3.93 ERA in 18.1 IP. Liriano is 2-1 against the Royals with a 4.73 ERA in 13.1 IP.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Royals Dismiss Ladnier as Scouting Director

Yesterday, Dayton Moore announced that he had removed Deric Ladnier as the senior scouting director and he moved J.J. Picollo over the First-Year Player Draft, which means Picollo is now the head of both the scouting and the player development departments. Ladnier has been offered another job in the organization and it sounds like he'll accept it.

Moore said that his decision was based on who he wanted to see running the draft and in his mind, Picollo was the person he wanted in that position. If you look at how thin the Royals are in Major League talent right now, even though they've had high draft choices ever since Ladnier joined the Royals in 2000, then it's easy to see why Moore went in another direction.

Craig Brown over at Royals Authority broke down the Royals' draft choices by year going back to 2001. Check it out if you get a chance.

Game 143: Kansas City @ Minnesota

Game Date: September 9, 2008
Twins 7, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Blackburn (10-8), LP: Bannister (7-15) 
Royal Home Runs: Olivo (12)
Royals Record: 61-82

I like to drink a cold beer while watching a ball game once in a while. So, I bought a 12-pack a week or so ago, and the "born on" date was June 23. Does that date sound familiar? It was the last time Brian Bannister won a game. So, I now have beer as old as his winless streak.

Yesterday, Bannister gave up seven earned runs on ten hits in just 3.2 innings. And he threw 93 pitches. Wow. John Bale, Jimmy Gobble, Kip Wells, and Devon Lowery pitched the final 4.1 innings without giving up a run, but after the second inning, the Royals really didn't make a serious run at the Twins.

Jose Guillen had three of the six hits the Royals had on the day and Miguel Olivo hit a solo home run. The rest of the offense was pretty silent.

Tonight, Kyle Davies (6-6, 4.59) will go up against Kevin Slowey (11-9, 3.75). Davies is 2-3 in his career against the Twins with a 4.76 ERA in 22.2 IP. Slowey is 2-0 against the Royals with a 2.50 ERA in 18.0 IP.

Mike Sweeney Released by A's

Mike Sweeney said that the A's gave him two options recently; either go on the 60-day DL or be released. He said that he told them to release him because he was healthy. In his last AB for the A's on Friday, he doubled in Baltimore. He's going to try to hook up with a different team to finish the season, but it very well good turn out to be his last Major League at bat. How fitting would that be?

It's just too bad that it didn't happen in Royal blue.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Game 142: Cleveland @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 7, 2008
Indians 3, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Lee (21-2), LP: Greinke (10-10), SV: Lewis (8) 
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 61-81

If ever a starting pitcher owned us, it's Cliff Lee. He beat us for the fourth straight time this season yesterday. Of course, he's only lost twice this season, so he's been tough on every team, but still.

Zack Greinke wasn't bad (3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 K, in 6.0 IP). He just wasn't as good as Lee. And don't look now, but the Royals are probably going to have have face Lee again next Friday night in Cleveland.

Here's a trivia question for you: Without looking it up, can you tell me how long it has been since the Royals have hit a home run? I'm guessing you can't. I couldn't do it either. Turns out, you have to go back to last Tuesday when Billy Butler and Ryan Shealy did it. Yikes.

The Royals are off today. They open a new series in Minnesota on Tuesday night. Brian Bannister (7-14, 5.56) is scheduled to go up against Nick Blackburn (9-8, 3.71). Bannister is 3-0 in his career against the Twins with a 2.00 ERA in 36.0 IP. Blackburn is 0-0 against the Royals with a 1.64 ERA in 11.0 IP.

Game 141: Cleveland @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 6, 2008
Royals 3, Indians 1 / Box Score
WP: Meche (11-10), LP: Jackson (0-2), SV: Soria (35) 
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 61-80

Gil Meche dominated the Indians in this one. He gave up just one earned run on three hits and two walks, while striking out ten. He lowered his ERA to 3.96, which is the lowest it has been all season. And he won for the first time since August 10--although you can hardly blame him for that. He's had several outstanding outings since then, but the Royals could never close the deal for him.

The Royals didn't give Meche much run support, but they gave him enough. In the second inning, with two outs, Esteban German singled in a run and David DeJesus followed him with another single that drove in two runs. That was all Meche needed.

Ramon Ramirez and Joakim Soria shut down the Indians over the final two innings. Soria picked up his 35th save of the season. Unfortunately, he's probably not going to get a chance to make a run at the Royals season record (45) though. In fact, you have to wonder if the Royals will even win ten more games this season.

Game 140: Cleveland @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 5, 2008
Indians 9, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Mujica (2-1), LP: Duckworth (2-1) 
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 60-80

The Indians jumped all over Brandon Duckworth in this one. They scored two runs off of him in the second inning--the fact that he walked three guys in the inning didn't help. Then in the fifth, he gave up three singles to lead off the inning and his day was done. Things didn't get any better when the bullpen took over. Joel Peralta came in and gave up three more singles, allowing three more runs to score. Peralta was removed in favor of Yasuhiko Yabuta who gave up yet another single and run to the first guy he faced and he gave up another run before the inning was over. That made it 8-0 Cleveland after five.

The Royals offense wasn't up to the task. They finally scored in the seventh inning when David DeJesus hit a sacrifice fly deep enough to score Ross Gload. And Jose Guillen doubled in two to make it 8-3 Cleveland, but that was as close as the Royals would get. We finally got to see phenom Kila Ka'aihue (he has a combined 37 home runs at the Double-A and Triple-A level this season) at first base in this one. He picked up his first Major League hit--a single into right field. Unfortunately, things didn't go so well in the field for him. He had two balls go off his glove that were ruled singles. Afterward he admitted that he should have made both plays.

So the race for 70 wins is on. At 60-80, the Royals are on pace to win 69 games and nobody wants to see that again.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Game 139: Oakland @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 4, 2008
Royals 9, A's 6 / Box Score
WP: Davies (6-6), LP: Meyer (0-4), SV: Ramirez (1) 
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 60-79

The Royals jumped all over A's starter Dan Meyer in the first inning of this one. They scored four runs on four hits. Jose Guillen singled in a run. Billy Butler doubled in a run. Alberto Callaspo sacrificed in a run. So did John Buck.

The Royals struck again for one in the third and three more in the fourth on RBI triples from Esteban German and Mile Aviles. Guillen also drove in another run with a single.

Kyle Davies wasn't exactly sharp. He threw 101 pitches in five innings, but he only allowed one run. Hillman used six relievers to finish the game. Robinson Tejeda gave up three runs and Kip Wells gave up two, but it didn't matter.

Tonight, the Royals begin a new series at home with the Indians. Brandon Duckworth (2-0, 4.91) will go up against Anthony Reyes (4-2, 2.93). Duckworth is 1-0 in his career against the Indians with a 2.84 ERA in 6.1 IP. Reyes is 2-0 against the Royals with a 1.69 ERA in 10.2 IP.

Game 138: Oakland @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 4, 2008
Royals 5, A's 4 / Box Score
WP: Soria (2-3), LP: Devine (4-1)
Royal Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 59-79

Brain Bannister didn't get the win, but he did pitch well again (1 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 7.0 (IP) which is nice to see given the type of season he has had.

Billy Butler and Ryan Shealy contributed again at the plate. Butler gave the Royals the early lead with a two-run double in the third inning and Shealy singled in a run later in the inning. But the A's found a way to come back and push the game into extra innings.

In the bottom of the tenth, Esteban German reached on a throwing error by Bobby Crosby. David DeJesus sacrificed him to second. Mike Aviles drew an intentional walk. And that brought defensive replacement Joey Gathright to the plate.

First he planned to bunt, but then the A's brought Jack Hannahan in at third and took the bunt away. Then he planned to just slap the ball on the left side of the infield toward the hole and run like crazy. He was looking for a sinker, but got a 93 mph fastball which caused him to be a little late. He ended up slapping the ball fair down the left field line and German scored the winning run.

Baseball is a crazy game sometimes.

Mike Sweeney played against the Royals for the first time in a regular season game. He went 0-for-5, but he got a nice ovation from the crowd.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Game 137: Oakland @ Kansas City

Game Date: September 2, 2008
Royals 5, A's 2 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (10-9), LP: Gonzalez (1-3), SV: Soria (34)
Royal Home Runs: Butler (10), Shealy (1)
Royals Record: 58-79

Where has this version of Billy Butler been all season? We could have used him before the numerous losing streaks started. Yesterday he was 3-for-4 with a home run and 4 RBI. And he's raising his average to respectability. Butler's three-run shot in the first inning gave Zack Greinke all the cushion he needed.

Greinke pitched seven strong innings, giving up just two earned runs on six hits. He struck out eight. The win gave Greinke his tenth of the season. Can you guess the last time the Royals have had two ten-game winners in one season (Gil Meche also has ten wins this season)? Jeff Suppan and Jose Rosado did it in 1999. Wow.

The Royals brought up six players for September callups: Ryan Shealy, Kila Ka'aihue, Devon Lowery, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Jimmy Gobble, and John Bale. Technically Gobble and Bale were activated from injury rehab assignments while the other four were true callups.

Shealy made his presence felt right away when he blasted a home run to right field in the fourth inning.

This was Mike Sweeney's first trip back to Kauffman Stadium since joining the A's. He faces more knee surgery this off season and he isn't sure if he'll play next year or not, so he said he really wanted to make this trip to Kansas City, even though he's been out of action for a long time. Here are a couple of quotes from him from a couple of different sources:

"It’ll be an interesting off-season, to say the least,” he said. “Right now, I’m just happy to be playing again. I was in the minors on a rehab assignment and I felt pretty good. I’m hoping to be activated for this series because I had these three dates in Kansas City circled all season."

"I told my agents I really wanted to come back to Kansas City and the way the last few weeks have gone, I really thought about getting the surgery done and just getting ready for next year," he said. "But I still had that date circled on my calendar to come back to KC and I really wanted to make this trip and thank God I'm here."

There's a chance Sweeney will be activated for the game tonight. If he is, I hope that the Royal faithful will give him a long, standing ovation. Here's what he said about the possibility of playing in Kansas City tonight:

"If I got to play in tomorrow night's game and I blew out my knee and never got to play again, I'd retire a happy man," he said.

Tonight, Brian Bannister (7-14, 5.75) will go up against Dana Eveland (8-8, 4.21). Bannister is 1-1 in his career against the A's with a 3.96 ERA in 25.0 IP. Eveland is 1-0 against the Royals with a 1.59 ERA in 5.2 IP.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Game 136: Kansas City @ Detroit

Game Date: August 31, 2008
Tigers 4, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Glover (2-3), LP: Wells (0-1), SV: Rodney (7)
Royal Home Runs: Guillen (18)
Royals Record: 57-79

Gil Meche pitched well again (2 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 7.0 IP), but it wasn't enough for the win. He left with the score tied 2-2. Kip Wells took over in the eighth inning and hit the first batter he faced, walked the next batter, got a force at third, and then walked Magglio Ordonez to load the bases. Hillman yanked Wells and handed the ball to Ramon Ramirez, who gave up a two-run double to Miguel Cabrera. It turned out to be the game-winning hit.

Miguel Olivo was in the lineup again, which Hillman says had nothing to do with Olivo making rather stupid statements like this to the KC Star in recent days:

“I think (Hillman) doesn’t like me sometimes. I don’t know. There’s no way. When I’m in there, I do my job. I try to do my best. Every time I go over there (to the coaches), I say something, but I think nobody listens to me. That’s what I think. But I know I’m a good player. Everybody knows. I can play anywhere.”

Why would you sign with a team knowing that they have an established catcher and then complain that you aren't getting enough playing time? He believed that he was competing for a starting position when he signed with the Royals and that's fair enough. But after his bat cooled down in June (during which he hit just .200), he lost some playing time. Then in July he hit just .194. Buck, on the other hand, hit .235 and .238, which obviously isn't much to brag about, but it's better than what Olivo did and Buck also hit five home runs in July.

August was certainly a different story. Olivo hit .302 compared to Buck's pitiful .118 average. So it's hard to argue against Olivo playing more as of late (Olivo has played in 71 games this year, Buck has played in 96), but wouldn't it be nice to have guys who cared more about the team than themselves? Instead of complaining about the manager not liking you, why not point out that if you combined his numbers with Buck's that they have 19 HR and 78 RBI with a 167 games played between them (some of the games including both guys in the lineup when Olivo was the DH early in the season). Those aren't horrible numbers.

But all of this is just another chapter in the 2008 season that has turned into a debacle.

Unfortunately, there was more bad news in this game other than the fact that we lost and and Olivo is upset. Mike Aviles was hit by a pitch on the hand and had to leave the game. Thankfully, X-rays were negative and he's listed as day-to-day.

The Royals are off today. They open a new series at home against the A's tomorrow night. Zack Greinke (9-9, 3.72) will go up against Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 7.25). Greinke is 2-0 against the A's in his career with a 2.75 ERA in 36.0 IP. Gonzalez has never faced the Royals.

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