Monday, June 29, 2009

Hochevar Tosses Seven Shutout Innings

Game Date: June 29, 2009
Minnesota @ Kansas City
Royals 4, Twins 2 / Box Score
WP: Hochevar (3-3), LP: Blackburn (6-4), SV: Soria (10)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (12), Callaspo (5)
Royals Record: 33-42 / Record in June 10-15

The entire day had a damper on it after news began to surface that the Royals may be looking to move players since their season has been disappointing thus far. In reality, I can’t see Dayton Moore getting much more than prospects for most of the guys he might be able to move, with a couple of exceptions. And besides, doing so is an admission that he was wrong about the choices he’s made when he put this team together. He didn’t bring all these guys to Kansas City, but he did choose to keep all of them here.

I’m not in the mood to see a bunch of guys who don’t belong at the big league level playing out the year in Kansas City simply because Moore wants to dump salary and start over again. Royals fans have already suffered too long with make shift line ups and line ups that didn’t really contain big leaguers. We don’t want to see that again. At least I don’t.

Okay, I got that off my chest.

I was at the Omaha Royals game tonight, so I didn’t see much of the game in Kansas City. I could see a small TV in the press box that was showing the game, but it wasn’t quite close enough for me to have one eye on Kansas City and one on Omaha. I did follow along on Game Day and saw the updates come through Twitter.

One thing I know is that Hochevar was battling his control early in the game. He walked several guys and then it seemed like he figured something out. Or course, the most important thing is, he figured out a way to keep the Twins off the scoreboard for seven innings.

Meanwhile the offense had 12 hits, including two solo home runs. Not bad. They didn’t score a ton of runs, but enough. And the Royals have now won two games in a row. Any kind of positive streak feels good right now.

The Omaha Royals game looked quite similar tonight. They defeated Albuquerque 2-0 behind a strong starting effort by Lenny DiNardo—who also threw seven shutout innings.

John Buck was the DH for Omaha and he looked pretty good at the plate. He singled in his first at bat to drive in a run in the first inning. He made the third out of the inning when he tried to stretch the single into a double, but the run had already scored. In his other at bats, he seemed to be right on the ball—fouling several straight back and hitting a couple of others right at fielders. He also struck out once after fouling a number of pitches off.

Tomorrow night in Kansas City, Brain Bannister (5-5, 4.17) will go up against Scott Baker (5-6, 5.17). Bannister is 3-1 in his career against the Twins with a 3.60 ERA in 45.0 IP. Baker is 5-3 against the Royals with a 3.03 ERA in 68.1 IP.

Royal Trade Rumors, Meche’s Arm, Quirk on MLB

Bob Dutton said the following in the Star this morning: “The buzz on the rumor mill is that the Royals are openly offering some veteran players in response to their disappointing season. Names making the rounds include David DeJesus, Mark Teahen, Kyle Davies, Brian Bannister and virtually all of their relievers.” To deal DeJesus, Teahen, or Bannister right now would seem to me to be a huge regression.

We should know more about Gil Meche’s dead arm today. Meche’s velocity was down to 87-88 mph in his last start. Dutton says that if Meche can’t make his start on Wednesday that Sidney Ponson would be his likely replacement. I don’t like the sound of that.

Lorraine DelliCarpini, media relations manager at the MLB Network, sent me an email today letting me know that Jamie Quirk will be a guest analyst on MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight” tonight and tomorrow starting at 7:00 PM CT. If you have the MLB Network, check it out.

Greinke Wins Number 10

Game Date: June 28, 2009
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh
Royals 3, Pirates 2 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (10-3), Morton (0-1), SV: Soria (9)
KC Home Runs: DeJesus (6)
Royals Record: 32-42 / Record in June 9-15

Too bad the rain stopped the game for a while in the seventh inning. I’m always interested in seeing Zack Greinke going deeper in the game whenever possible. But his efforts, along with solid bullpen help, were enough.

The Royals sure didn’t manage much offense, but David DeJesus drove in two, including hitting a solo home run. I know it’s late June, and I know that DeJesus is hitting just .239, but with him back at the top of the line up—presumably for the rest of the season with Coco Crisp out—I really do expect his numbers to improve drastically.

It’s always fun to see Greinke hitting. He hit a double in the seventh inning. You almost wonder if Hillman shouldn’t use him as a pinch hitter sometimes given the light hitting bench players he often has to choose from. Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but still . . .

The Royals open a new series at home tonight at home against the Twins. Luke Hochevar (2-3, 5.87) will go up against Nick Blackburn (6-3, 3.11). Hochevar is 0-1 in his career against the Twins with an 8.44 ERA in 5.1 IP. Blackburn is 1-0 against the Royals with a 2.00 ERA in 18.0 IP.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chen Unable to Stop the Pirates

Game Date: June 27, 2009
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh
Pirates 6, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Maholm (5-4), Chen (0-1)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 31-42 / Record in June 8-15

I don’t think anybody envisioned the Royals being 3-8 against NL competition since sweeping the Reds in the middle of the month, but that’s the reality we face going into the game today. So many poorly played games. So many blowouts. It wears on a fan. But yet, we continue to hope that things will change in the next series. Because that’s what we do. We hold out hope.

We still have one more game in this series to play though.

Last night, Bruce Chen didn’t look awful. His missed badly with a change up to Delwyn Young in the fourth inning and Young smashed a three-run home run. You sort of had the sense then that we weren’t going to win this one. But Chen hung in there. He didn’t walk anybody. He made a great defensive play on a bunt. We could do worse at the back end of the rotation.

The bats were relatively silent again. Willie Bloomquist and Billy Butler had two hits each, but the rest of the team only managed three more hits. We only drew one walk—and that was Bruce Chen.

I’m anxious for the Royals to finish off this miserable stretch of games against the NL. I don’t know why though, really. I guess because I’m like any other fan. Things might just turn around with the next series.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meche Lacks Command, Loses His Seventh

Game Date: June 26, 2009
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh
Pirates 5, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Vasquez (1-0), LP: Meche (4-7), SV: Capps (17)
KC Home Runs: Teahen (9)
Royals Record: 31-41 / Record in June 8-14

I only caught bits and pieces of this game, but it seemed like every time I looked up, somebody for the Pirates was launching a home run. I’m not too concerned about solo shots. I’d rather see a pitcher going after a guy and giving up a long ball every once in a while instead of seeing him nibbling and ultimately walking guys before giving up the home run. Two of the Pirates’ home runs were solo shots. One was a two-run shot.

Gil Meche gave up the two-run shot and a solo shot. My bigger concern was his lack of command. Here’s what he said afterward:

“I hadn’t felt real smooth out there, obviously. Tonight was terrible. Just didn’t feel great, didn't have good arm speed, couldn’t locate—pretty much the same story as the last start.”

I can’t speak much about the offense since I missed so much of the game. I could mention the base-running debacle in the second inning, but unfortunately we’re used to that by now, even though such things still grate on my nerves.

Tonight, Bruce Chen will make his debut with the Royals. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2006. He’ll go up against Paul Maholm (4-4, 4.48). Chen is 1-3 in his career against the Pirates with a 4.15 ERA in 30.1 IP. Maholm is 0-1 against the Royals with a 12.45 ERA in 4.1 IP.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Royals Can’t Complete the Sweep

Game Date: June 25, 2009
Kansas City @ Houston
Astros 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Wright (2-1), LP: Bannister (5-5), SV: Valverde (6)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 31-40 / Record in June 8-13

This loss was a result of three things:

1. Brian Bannister not quite having the control he needed.

2. Lance Berkman taking advantage of Banny’s poor control by hitting two two-run home runs.

3. Failure by the Royals to take full advantage of an atrocious defensive game by the Astros, during which they committed three errors.

Mark Teahen had a nice game, going 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. And David DeJesus drew a walk, scored a run, and saw 28 pitches in four plate appearances—which isn’t too bad considering he didn’t even have a hit. But the Royals only managed six hits and generally speaking that’s not going to win you many ball games.

At least we won this series.

Now it’s on to Pittsburgh. Gil Meche (4-6, 4.11) will go up against Charlie Morton (0-0, 3.00) tomorrow night. Neither pitcher has faced the other team.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Royals Win a Bizarre Game

Game Date: June 24, 2009
Kansas City @ Houston
Royals 4, Astros 3 / Box Score
WP: Soria (2-0), LP: Fulchino (2-3), SV: Bale (1)
KC Home Runs: Pena (1), Olivo (11)
Royals Record: 31-39 / Record in June 8-12

So much to talk about in this one:

  • Dave Owen got Mitch Maier thrown out at home in the third inning by waving him home on an attempted inside the park home run. There was no reason for it since Maier was leading off the inning. Granted, Luke Hocehvar was up next, but David DeJesus flew out to center after that. Owen’s track record of getting guys thrown out at home this season is not good. Maybe it’s time to move him to first base and give Rusty a shot at third, huh?

  • Luke Hochevar looked incredibly sharp. His breaking stuff had a ton of movement and he kept the ball down for the most part. He eventually gave up a two-run home run to Darin Erstad, but that was after Alberto Callaspo didn’t field a double-play ball cleanly and wound up only getting one out.

  • With the Royals trailing 2-1 in the ninth and a guy on first with one out, Mike Jacobs launched a ball to left field that wrapped around one of those crazy outfield walls in Houston and deflected into Jason Michaels’ glove. He made it look like he caught the ball but after the umpires had a discussion they determined that the ball had indeed deflected off the wall. Good job by the umpires getting the call correct. But it bugged me that Jacobs wasn’t on second base. He couldn’t have been running hard and as a consequence he kept the double play in order for Houston. Thankfully, DeJesus picked him up by singling in a run to tie the game.

  • In the Royals’ half of the tenth, Pudge Rodriguez apparently accused Brayan Pena of peeking back to see where he was set up and Pena went on to hit a solo home run. If Pena did indeed do it, you really can’t defend that sort of thing. It just shouldn’t be done. I couldn’t tell on the replay if he was guilty or not, but Pudge sure seemed to think so. Trey Hillman removed Pena from that game before the bottom half of the inning—did he do so to keep the situation from escalating since Rodriguez was leading off the next inning?

  • In the bottom half of the inning, Rodriguez raced home after a single and Jose Guillen had a chance to throw him out, but for some reason Miguel Olivo came way up the right field line and left the plate wide open for Rodriguez. Sure enough, Rodriguez slid in safely to tie the game again. Both Olivo and John Buck continue to do this and I really don’t understand why. Neither have shown a lack of desire to take a hit in the past so you have to wonder if this isn’t something the Royals are teaching catchers, but if that’s the case, the obvious answer is why?

  • And since I’m asking a lot of questions: What is the deal with Joakim Soria? He blew another save and he still doesn’t look right. He has a good ERA (2.16), but you don’t feel secure when he’s in the game like we did when he entered games last season.

  • In a bizarre twist of events, Miguel Olivo crushed a ball over the left center field wall in the top of the eleventh and that run held up when John Bale retired the Astros 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning for Bale’s first save.
Lots of craziness in this one. But a win is a win. Now let’s hope the Royals can complete the sweep tomorrow. Brian Bannister (5-4, 3.89) will go up against Brian Moehler (4-4, 6.43). Bannister has never faced the Astros. Moehler is 2-1 against the Royals in his career with a 4.62 ERA in 39.0 IP.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Greinke Wins His Ninth Game

Game Date: June 23, 2009 
Kansas City @ Houston
Royals 2, Astros 1 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (9-3), LP: Ortiz (3-3), SV: Soria (8)
KC Home Runs: Butler (7)
Royals Record: 30-39 / Record in June 7-12

So Trey Hillman pulled a La Russa tonight and hit Zack Greinke eighth. It’d didn’t backfire on him, nor did it help much. Both Greinke and Mitch Meier, who hit ninth, were 0-for-3. Greinke had a good night on the mound though, pitching eight strong innings and picking up his ninth win of the season.

After Billy Butler crushed a solo home run in the third inning to give the Royals a 2-1 lead, I didn’t think it would hold up, but it did. Greinke didn’t have great control of his fastball, but he was able to get outs when he needed them. And the defense wasn’t horrible behind him. At least they didn’t commit any errors.

Joakim Soria wasn’t exactly stellar in the ninth inning. He gave up a single to Miguel Tejada and another single to Lance Berkman. But he got two big strikeouts and a ground out to end the game.

The Royals needed this win. They haven’t won a game since last Tuesday when they beat the Diamondbacks 5-0 in the first game of that series. Since then they have been outscored 53-21. Let’s hope they can win one of the next two in Houston to capture this series.

Tomorrow night, Luke Hochevar (2-3, 6.61) goes up against Roy Oswalt (3-4, 4.48). Hochevar has never faced the Astros. Oswalt is 1-0 in his career against the Royals with a 1.13 ERA in 8.0 IP.

Royal Reflections Podcast #5 with Brian McGannon

I recorded a new episode of the Royal Reflections podcast this afternoon with Brian McGannon, a communications major at the University of Missouri. We had a great time talking about Royals baseball.

Listen as we talk about Brian’s experiences as a child in the Royals clubhouse (his father is Paul McGannon, a former trainer for the Royals from 1983-1991); his thoughts about George Brett, Steve Busby, Joe Randa, Amos Otis, Bo Jackson, and others; his memories of listening to Denny Matthews; the 2003 season when the Royals spent the first half of the season in first place; his opinions about Allard Baird and Dayton Moore; and his thoughts about the current roster.

Here are a couple of photos of Brian participating in the father/kids game at Kauffman Stadium as a young boy:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cardinals Sweep the Royals

Game Date: June 21, 2009
St. Louis @ Kansas City
Cardinals 12, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Wainwright (8-4), LP: Meche (4-6) 
KC Home Runs: Guillen (8), DeJesus (5)
Royals Record: 29-39 / Record in June 6-12

When you get your lunch handed to you the way the Royals did this weekend, there’s nothing you can do but admit that the other team is much better and then try to move on. The Cardinals scored 29 runs in three games against us. In our ball park. Albert Pujols annihilated our pitching staff, going 6-for-12 with 3 HR and 10 RBI.

Mark Teahen summed up the problems we had during the series and the losing streak pretty well after the game:

“It’s been all-around. We haven’t really been performing that well at the plate, in the field or on the mound. You’ve got do all those well to win games, and we’re not doing any of them all that well right now.”

Is there any relief in site? Are there any changes on the horizon? Royals Review linked to a Mark Bowman (the beat writer for the Atlanta Braves) blog post saying the Royals are eyeing 25-year-old, Jeff Francoeur with the intention of finally ridding themselves of Jose Guillen. I surely wouldn’t mind seeing it happen, but I don’t think it’ll be an upgrade on the field. Francoeur does stay healthy; obviously, Jose Guillen does not. But he doesn’t have a lot of power and his career OBP is just .309. I don’t know much about Francoeur defensively, but he must be better than Jose Guillen in that regard. Overall, I don’t see how this move will matter once way or another except to help the Royals trim salary to use elsewhere.

Thankfully, Monday is an off day and we can all forget about it for a day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Royals Still Searching for Answers

Game Date: June 20, 2009
St. Louis @ Kansas City
Cardinals 7, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Carpenter (5-1), LP: Bannister (5-4), SV: Franklin (17) 
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 29-38 / Record in June 6-11

The Royals optioned Kyle Davies to Omaha after his performance last night. Rightfully so. His numbers were awful (3-7, 5.76 ERA). He couldn’t locate any of his pitches. A stint in Omaha may do him some good. Robinson Tejeda came off the DL and took Davies’ spot on the roster. The Royals won’t need five starters for a while so they’ve got some time to make up their minds about what they want to do next.

But what about the rest of this team?

I’m beyond looking for moral victories at this point. Yeah, the Royals hung close until the ninth inning when our bullpen gave up four runs. And yeah, Chris Carpenter was on the mound against Banny today and he has a 1.53 ERA. Okay. But we still got beat soundly. Again.

We only had five hits—three of which came from the bottom three hitters. And we made two more errors. And seriously, how much longer is Luis Hernandez going to be on this roster? Hitting second, really?

When I look at the Royals’ record, I can’t believe it isn’t much worse. We ought to be looking forward to the two upcoming series against Houston and Pittsburgh, but I don’t know how we can. We got beat by Arizona. We’ve lost the series to St. Louis. We can’t get anybody out. Our defense is beyond bad. And we haven’t won a game since Tuesday.

Even though the All-Star break is just 20 games away, it feels like it’ll never get here.

Royals Trounced Again

Game Date: June 19, 2009
St. Louis @ Kansas City
Cardinals 10, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Thompson (2-2), LP: Davies (3-7)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (10), DeJesus (4), Butler (6)
Royals Record: 29-37 / Record in June 6-10

In the last three games, our pitching and defense have given up 34 runs. It’s hard to get too up set about the poor performance of any one player. Our starters are struggling. Our bullpen is too. And while we didn’t technically have any errors last night, there was plenty of bad defense to go around.

I don’t know what the answer is at this point. With so many weaknesses, we’d have to make a series of changes to even have a chance for them to make a difference. I don’t expect the Royals to make a lot of trades to fill in their defensive gaps because we don’t have a lot to offer. We could send a couple of players down to Omaha and bring a couple up because the mixture of players we have at the major league level right now is quite odd.

We’re carrying Willie Bloomquist, Alberto Callaspo, Luis Hernandez, Tug Hulett, and Tony Pena—all of whom are middle infielders, four of whom are second baseman. Pena doesn’t belong on the roster. We’re only carrying three outfielders, plus Bloomquist, which means that when it comes time for Hillman to pinch hit, he’s mostly stuck doing so with a back up middle infielder who little or no power.

Hulett probably still has options. I’m not that concerned if B. Pena or Hernandez have any.

Scott Thorman, a LF, is hitting .306 with 11 HR and 26 RBI in 40 games. Why not bring him up? I’d like to see us bring up J.R. House and use him as the back up catcher until John Buck returns. Bruce Chen is 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA in Omaha.

Of course, none of these guys are going to make enough impact to turn things around at the big league level. It seems to me that we’ve got what we’ve got and now we have to watch, sometimes in agony, to see how it all plays out.

This afternoon, Brian Bannister (5-3, 4.10) will go up against Chris Carpenter (4-1, 1.59). Bannister is 3-1 in his career against the Cardinals with a 4.01 ERA in 24.2 IP. Carpenter is 4-5 against the Royals with a 4.14 ERA in 71.2 IP.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More Disastrous Defense

Game Date: June 18, 2009
Arizona @ Kansas City
Diamondbacks 12, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Haren (6-4), LP: Hochevar (2-3)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 29-36 / Record in June 6-9

You are going to find this hard to believe, but statistically speaking there are worse teams defensively than the Royals. The Nationals, for example committed 61 errors going into play last night, while the Royals committed 47 errors in one less game. But, of course, they had three more in this train wreck of a game.

Can I just say the obvious? Brayan Pena is not a catcher. He’s a misser. I know that Luke Hochevar throws a sinker and that sometimes the ball is going to bounce, but Pena knows when its coming—he’s the one calling the pitches for crying out loud. But that didn’t seem to matter much. The Royals ended up with four wild pitches and a passed ball. The Royals need to get J.R. House in uniform for the game tomorrow night. He couldn’t possibly by any worse behind the plate than Pena, who will hopefully be Omaha bound soon. And we know that House can hit a little. He had 18 HR and 60 RBI for Triple-A Round Rock in 127 games last season.

No matter how well Alberto Callaspo is hitting this season, it’s not well enough to justify keeping him on the roster because he’s embarrassingly bad with the glove. Let’s give Tug Hulett a chance there for a few games. Even if he just makes the routine plays, we’ll be miles ahead of where we are with Callaspo. When Alex Gordon comes back, Mark Teahen will presumably move back over to second, but he hasn’t played the position in months and you have to wonder what he’ll look like over there. I don't think we can hand the job to Willie Bloomquist unless we want to start TPJ at shortstop every game. How good would Mark Grudzielanek look in a Royals uniform along about now? Yeah, he’s almost 39 and his knees are shot, but he’d be far, far better than anybody else we’ve got in our organization right now.

After being crushed by the Diamondbacks the last two games, the Royals will begin a new series against the Cardinals tomorrow night at the K. That should be fun. Kyle Davies (3-6, 5.14) will go up against Brad Thompson (1-2, 3.60). Davies is 1-2 in his career against the Cardinals with a 2.79 ERA in 19.1 IP. Thompson is 1-2 against the Royals with a 4.84 ERA in 22.1 IP.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It Got Ugly

Game Date: June 17, 2009
Arizona @ Kansas City
Diamondbacks 12, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Scherzer (4-4), LP: Greinke (8-3)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 29-35 / Record in June 6-8

While watching the fiasco on defense tonight, a friend told me that it looks like Dayton Moore put together a ballclub and forgot about defense. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not going to rehash the things that all of us already know. But after we made the third error of the game, I began trying to come up with at least one example of a staring position player who has played good, solid defense all season long.

Butler, no.

Callaspo, definitely no.

Avilles, no.

Teahen, no.

DeJesus, yes. No errors at least.

Crisp, what’s a cut off man?

Guillen, ahhhh no.

Olivo/Buck, no.

Bloomquist has been good, but he’s not a starting position player, or at least he isn’t supposed to be.

When you lose a game 12-5, a lot more has gone wrong than just the defense though. Zack Greinke didn’t pitch well. Neither did John Bale, or Roman Colon, or Ron Mahay.

Tomorrow is another day.

Meche Shuts the D’backs Down

Game Date: June 16, 2009
Arizona @ Kansas City
Royals 5, Diamondbacks 0 / Box Score
WP: Meche (4-5), LP: Davis (3-8)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 29-34 / Record in June 6-7

At the end of last season, the Royals had a Jekyll & Hyde vibe. Were they the awful team that endured two long losing streaks or were they the team that won 18 games in September?

Nobody really knew.

We still don’t.

We started well, then went into the tank. And now we have this nice four game winning streak thanks largely to some extremely good starting pitching.

Ever since Gil Meche moved to the first-base side of the pitching rubber, things have been different for him. Here’s a blurb from Bob Dutton’s article last night showing how different:

This makes four straight “quality starts” for Meche, 4-5, since his move to the first-base side of the pitching rubber. Further, he has allowed just three earned runs in 29 innings in those four games.

His ERA is down to 3.31 from 4.55.

Last night Meche was dominant and a bit old school because he convinced Trey Hillman to let him go back out for the ninth inning even though he’d already thrown 109 pitches. He ended up throwing 23 more in the ninth inning to finish with 132, but afterward Hillman said he wasn’t concerned about Meche’s pitch count. I like that.

Mark Teahen had a nice game, even though he was hitting in the eight hole, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. He’s hitting .333 in June. And Mike Jacobs even had a couple of hits off Davis, who is a lefty. You don’t see that very often.

The Royals will take their winning streak into their match up with Arizona tonight. We’re in a portion of the schedule in which we have to play good baseball if we have any hope of salvaging the season. So far, the Royals aren’t having many problems with the National League. Let’s hope their success continues.

Tonight, Zack Greinke (8-2, 1.72) will go up against Max Scherzer (3-4, 3.63). Greinke is 0-0 against the Diamondbacks in his career with an 8.74 ERA in 11.1 IP. Scherzer has never faced the Royals.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Royals Complete the Sweep

Game Date: June 14, 2009
Cincinnati @ Kansas City
Royals 7, Reds 1 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (5-3), LP: Cueto (6-4)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (9)
Royals Record: 28-34 / Record in June 5-7

I didn’t have a good feeling about this series before it started. We didn’t have Gil Meche or Zack Greinke pitching. The Reds had Johnny Cueto on the mound today and nobody has hit him hard. We’re still playing crumby defense and I wince every time Trey Hillman has to go to the bullpen. But Luke Hochevar changed the tone on Friday night with his 80-pitch gem. And the Reds look as bad defensively, if not worse than the Royals; our offense got hot all of a sudden; and then we got another great start today—this time from Brian Bannister and the sweep was complete.

Our defense and bullpen issues aren't going to go away any time soon, but let’s not over analyze things for now. A sweep is a sweep and it feels good heading into the off day—especially knowing that the Royals’ next 12 games will come against National League opponents. The Diamondbacks are in last place in the NL West. The Astros are in last place in the NL Central. And the Pirates are right there with the Astros. The Cardinals are always a difficult opponent, but you have to like the Royals’ chances to make up a little ground before June is over.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bloomquist Drives in Three in Royals Win

Game Date: June 13, 2009
Cincinnati @ Kansas City
Royals 7, Reds 4 / Box Score
WP: Davies (3-6), LP: Arroyo (7-5)
KC Home Runs: Teahen (8)
Royals Record: 27-34 / Record in June 4-7

Took in the game tonight at the K and it was a beautiful night for baseball. It also turned out to be the Willie Bloomquist show. He drove in the first two runs of the game for the Royals and he ended up going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and a walk. Billy Butler had a nice game too, going 3-for-5 with 2 RBI.

Kyle Davies threw too many pitches, walked too many guys, and had to leave the game too early, but he looked like Zack Greinke compared to Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo couldn’t throw his fastball for strikes and Royals hitters caught on to the fact that he was throwing primarily breaking pitches and they jumped all over him.

The Royals will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon. They’ll send Brian Bannister (4-3, 4.69) up against Johnny Cueto (6-3, 2.33). Neither pitcher has faced the other team.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hochevar Tosses a Three-Hitter

Game Date: June 12, 2009
Cincinnati @ Kansas City
Royals 4, Reds 1 / Box Score
WP: Hochevar (2-2), LP: Maloney (0-1)
KC Home Runs: Butler (5), Callaspo (4)
Royals Record: 26-34 / Record in June 3-7

The Royals desperately needed someone unexpected to step up and do something special. Luke Hochevar was up to the task tonight—throwing nine innings of three hit ball, giving up just one run on 80 pitches. 80 pitches. That’s incredible. Check out this stat from Bob Dutton:

That’s the fewest pitches thrown by any Royals starter in a complete game in at least 21 years. Club officials were still checking their archives to find a more efficient performance.

I’d be surprised if they find one.

Dutton’s article also pointed out that this was the first time the Reds have lost in Kansas City since 1889 when the Red Stockings were defeated 9-7 by the Kansas City Cowboys in American Association play.

I did a little checking and it turns out that the Cowboys were a terrible baseball team. There was actually three versions of the Cowboys in Kansas City in the late 1800s to use the name. In 1884, the Cowboys played in the Union Association and were 16-63, finishing 11th out of the 12 teams. That version of the team only lasted one season. Another version of the Cowboys played in the National League in 1886 and they were flat awful, going 30-91. That team didn’t last either. Finally the third version played in the American Association from 1888-1889, going 98-171. As bad as they were, according to Wikipedia, which admittedly isn’t much of a source, they did have a couple of highlights:

. . . these Cowboys did feature a Hall of Famer, outfielder Billy Hamilton, who made his big-league debut with the 1888 Cowboys and went on to post a .344 batting average over fourteen seasons. Henry Porter threw a no-hitter for the Cowboys on June 6, 1888.

Enough about the Cowboys.

How about Alberto Callaspo hitting a two-run bomb tonight from the right side of the plate? I didn’t expect that. It was the first time he’s ever done it in his career.

Tomorrow night, Kyle Davies (2-6, 5.13) goes up against Bronson Arroyo (7-4, 5.00). Davies is 1-1 in his career against the Reds with a 9.00 ERA in 10.0 IP. Arroyo is 0-1 against the Royals with a 2.79 ERA in 9.2 IP.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coco Crisp and the Seagull

Game Date: June 11, 2009
Kansas City @ Cleveland
Indians 4, Royals 3 (10 Inn.) / Box Score
WP: Herges (2-0), LP: Farnsworth (1-4)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (8)
Royals Record: 25-34 / Record in June 2-7

Lot’s of blame to go around. If only Zack Greinke hadn’t given up the single to Mark DeRosa in the eighth inning followed by a walk to Victor Martinez, maybe things would have been different. If only Tony Pena and Alberto Callaspo hadn’t made two throwing errors later in that same inning, maybe things would have been different. If Kyle Farnsworth could get anybody out when the game was on the line, maybe things would have been different. And if the flock of seagulls (no, there wasn’t an 80s retro concert in center field) hadn’t been squatting in front of Coco Crisp in the bottom of the tenth inning when Shin-Soo Choo singled and hit one of the aforementioned seagulls, thus deflecting the ball away from Crisp and allowing the winning run to score, then maybe things would have been different.

But let’s be honest. Greinke was out of gas, we pretty much expect Tony Pena and Alberto Callaspo to make an error in the big moments, Kyle Farnsworth has been blowing games all season long, and the flock of seagulls thing is just funny, and probably could only happen to the Royals. And does anybody really think Crisp could throw somebody out at home from centerfield anyway? No doubt, he was extremely shallow, but he would have tossed a rainbow somewhere in the vicinity of the plate and nearly anybody would have been able to score before it finally landed.

By now, YouTube is probably full of uploaded videos of the seagull incident causing people to laugh and just shake their head, because what else can you do?

Oh yeah, and the Royals are back in last place in the AL Central.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2009 Royals Draft

Here are a few links regarding the Royals draft:

  • The Star has a list of the players the Royals drafted this week.
  • Sam Mellinger writes about how the Royals selected six pitchers with their first seven picks.
  • Clark at Royals Authority has a couple of nice posts about the Royals’ draft choices, broken down by Day One and Day Two.
  • Rany gives his opinion about Aaron Crow in this post.
  • Wally Fish at Kings of Kauffman gives his opinion in this post.

More links to follow in the coming days.

The Royals Blast Carl Pavano

Game Date: June 10, 2009
Kansas City @ Cleveland
Royals 9, Indians 0 / Box Score
WP: Meche (3-5), LP: Pavano (6-5)
KC Home Runs: Guillen (7), Olivo (7), Callaspo (3)
Royals Record: 25-33 / Record in June 2-6

Back on May 21, the Indians beat the Royals 8-3 in Kansas City. Carl Pavano was on the mount that day and after the game he said this about his opponent, Zack Greinke (who, oddly enough, left the game with a 3-2 lead): “We faced a pitcher who’s at the top of his game every time out and we wore him out, I think. It looked like he was kind of laboring and we got him out of there and were able to get to the bullpen.”

So, in the spirit of Pavano, I think it’s safe to say that the Royals more than wore out Pavano tonight. They hammered him for nine runs in 4.2 innings and were able to get into the bullpen by the fifth inning. I hope somebody reminds him of what he said back in Kansas City.

Gil Meche was outstanding tonight (no earned runs in seven innings; 11 strikeouts). While he was doing his thing, the Royals played long ball, hitting three home runs, include a grand slam by Alberto Callaspo. What in the world got into the offense tonight? Pavano looked off, that might have been part of it. But the Royals didn’t miss many pitches.

The win puts the Royals back in front of the Indians in the AL Central by a half a game. Now let’s hope they can win the series tomorrow when Zack Greinke (8-2, 1.55) goes up against Jeremy Sowers (1-3, 5.40). Greinke is 5-8 in his career against the Indians with a 3.74 ERA in 86.2 IP. Sowers is 2-1 against the Royals with a 3.43 ERA in 21.0 IP.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

More of the Same

Game Date: June 9, 2009
Kansas City @ Cleveland 
Indians 8, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Perez (1-1), LP: Cruz (3-2)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (6)
Royals Record: 24-33 / Record in June 1-6

Do we really have to talk about another debacle of a game on draft day? There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. We had a lead, the defense and bullpen blew it, we lost. Oh, and in the process, we slipped into last place in the AL Central.

Royals Select Wil Myers in Third Round

Wil Myers is thought to be one of the best, if not the best catcher available in the draft. The Royals drafted the 6-3, 185-pounder out of Wesleyan Christian Academy in N.C. and they were happy to get him. At least one projection had him being drafted by the Royals in the first round, with the 12th overall pick.

Myers has power, good bat speed and good hand strength. He is a strong, athletic player with an above average arm behind the plate. His weakness at the plate includes mechanical flaws that don’t allow him to cover the outside corner. You can read more about him at

The Royals Choose Aaron Crow

The Royals selected RHP Aaron Crow with the 12th pick in the first round this afternoon.

His fastball tops out at 94-95 mph, but he stays around 91-92. He has a good slider and is said to be poised on the mound. He struggles with his command at times. He pitched for the Fort Worth Cats (in an independent league) most recently. He’s 23 years old and I’m guessing that, like with Luke Hochevar, the thought is, he should be ready to pitch at the major league level earlier than other pitchers.

Crow was drafted by the Nationals in the first round last year and he didn’t sign with them. He’ll come with a high price tag, but I’m guessing he’s not going to be willing to sit out two seasons in a row. You can read more about him at

Here's a video of him throwing in the bullpen for Missouri in 2008:

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Halladay Throws a Shutout

Game Date: June 7, 2009
Kansas City @ Toronto  
Blue Jays 4, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Halladay (10-1), LP: Davies (2-6)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 24-32 / Record in June 1-5

Just one look at the pitching match up today was all you needed to realize the Royals were probably going to have a tough day. To Davies’ credit, after giving up four runs in the first three innings, he hung five zeros on the board, but it didn’t matter because Roy Halladay hung nine zeros on the board for his tenth win of the season.

The Royals get a day off tomorrow and then they’ll open a new series in Cleveland on Tuesday night.

Royals Finally End Losing Streak

Game Date: June 6, 2009
Kansas City @ Toronto 
Royals 6, Blue Jays 2 / Box Score
WP: Hochevar (1-2), LP: Richmond (4-3)
KC Home Runs: Teahen (7)
Royals Record: 24-31 / Record in June 1-4

It was anybody’s guess regarding how the Royals would finally end their losing streak. It ended up being a combination of a good outing from Luke Hochevar and a Mark Teahen home run followed by a Willie Bloomquist bases clearing triple that did the trick. I’m not even going to get into the fact that Trey Hillman used Joakim Soria in the ninth inning in a non-save situation. A win is a win, so let’s enjoy it—especially since it might be short-lived. Have you seen the pitching match up for this afternoon?

Kyle Davies (2-5, 5.20) will go up against Roy Halladay (9-1, 2.77). Davies is 1-0 in his career against the Blue Jays with a 4.76 ERA in 5.2 IP. Halladay is 8-3 against the Royals with a 2.90 ERA in 93.0 IP.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Even Our Stopper Can End the Streak

Game Date: June 5, 2009
Kansas City @ Toronto 
Blue Jays 9, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Romero (3-2), LP: Greinke (8-2)
KC Home Runs: Guillen (6), Jacobs (10)
Royals Record: 23-31 / Record in June 0-4

What do you do when even your stopper is unable to kill a losing streak?

After the game, Greinke said that everything the Blue Jays hit was a line drive. That’s sort of how things looked last Sunday in Kansas City when Greinke pitched against the White Sox—except that most of those balls were hit right at people. That wasn’t the case tonight.

The Royals were never really in this one and their offense didn’t wake up until the Royals were down 7-0. And so, the losing streak is now at eight, but it already feels like 18. This team has an uncanny knack for long losing streaks and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s too many people pressing or just a general mentality that doesn’t believe the team can win. Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know.

Tomorrow afternoon, we get to do it all again. Luke Hochevar (0-2, 10.80) is back and will go up against Scott Richmond (4-2, 3.50). Hochevar is 1-1 in his career against the Blue Jays with a 3.75 ERA in 12.0 IP. Richmond is 1-0 against the Royals with a 1.29 ERA in 7.0 IP.

Spotlight on Mario Lisson

The Royals signed 6-2, 170 pound shortstop Mario Lisson as an undrafted free agent in 2002. The 25-year-old has slowly been making his way through the Royals minor league system ever since.

He has a little power (53 HR in 588 games in the minor leagues), a decent ability to get on base (a career .344 OBP), and he steals a lot of bases (138 in seven seasons—his best season coming in Burlington in 2006 when he swiped 41 bags; he was named the Burlington Player of the Year that season). In 2007 he was named to the midseason and postseason Carolina League All-Star teams. And in 2008, the Royals added him to the 40-man roster. He's on it this season as well.

Defensively, he has played more games at third base (392 going in this season) in the minor leagues than anywhere else, but has played more than 100 games at shortstop and that seems to be the best fit for him. I don't think he has quite enough power to play third base. He started this season in Northwest Arkansas and was called up to Omaha recently, where he's been playing shortstop. That's where he played last night when Omaha took on Round Rock in Omaha. Here is a breakdown of Lisson's at bats during that game:

AB #1 (3rd inning, facing RHP Bud Norris, nobody on, no outs): Lisson jumped on the first pitch he saw and knocked it over the left field wall to give Omaha a 1-0 lead. I captured it on video:

AB #2 (5th inning, facing Norris, a man on second, one out): The Royals were still leading 1-0. Lisson took the first pitch for a called strike. He took a long swing and missed the second pitch. It was probably far enough outside that it would have been called a ball. The third pitch was low to make the count 2-1. The fourth pitch was way outside for ball two. The fifth pitch was over the outside corner for a called strike three. Norris worked him away the entire at bat and it paid off.

AB #3 (7th inning, facing RHP Samuel Gervacio, a man on first base, no outs):

With the game tied 1-1, manager Mike Jirschele asked Lisson to bunt the man on first into scoring position. After fouling off a couple of attempted bunts, he attempted another bunt with two strikes and he popped it up just high enough for Gervacio to charge off the mound and make a good diving catch about half way between the pitcher's mound and home plate.

AB #4 (9th inning, facing RHP Brendan Donnelly , a man on first base, one out): In the top of the ninth, Round Rock hung a three-spot on the Omaha bullpen, so when Lisson came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth, the Royals were down 4-1. The first pitch he saw from Donnelly was high for ball one. The second pitch was right down main street for a called strike. He hit the next pitch to the shortstop for a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Obviously, the Royals are in a state of flux right now at the shortstop position at the big league level. Lisson could turn out to be the answer. I don't know if he could hit major league pitching (his batting average isn't even very good in the minor leagues this season), but he appears to be pretty patient at the plate and once he does get on base he's always a risk to steal. I haven't seen enough of him defensively to tell you whether he'd be able to play short at the big league level or not. But at this point, we don't have many choices in the organization, so it would be interesting to see what he could do.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Upton Blast Gives Rays the Sweep

Game Date: June 4, 2009
Kansas City @ Tampa Bay
Rays 3, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Shields (5-4), LP: Wright (0-2), SV: Howell (2)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 23-30 / Record in June 0-3

Gil Meche did all he could to keep the Royals in the game. His stuff wasn’t good. His location was worse. But he kept figuring out ways to get guys out. But after he left the game with a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, you just had a feeling that the bullpen was going to lose the game. If you didn’t have that feeling, I did. Of course, I have that feeling nearly every time Hillman calls on them right now.

This time it was Jamey Wright who gave up the lead. I don’t blame Hillman. He has no choice but to go to the pen late, but leaving Soria out of the equation, Kyle Farnsworth has the best ERA of the remaining guys who aren’t hurt, and he’s still filling a mop up role. I don’t like it, but maybe he’s earned the right to get the ball in the seventh inning when the Royals have a slim lead. I know, I know, the Royals aren’t getting many leads lately. But still.

The Royals begin a new series in Toronto. And it’ll be Zack Greinke Day, so that’s something to look forward to. Greinke (8-1, 1.10) will go up against Ricky Romero (2-2, 4.15). Greinke is 2-3 against the Blue Jays in his career with a 4.66 ERA in 38.2 IP. Romero has never faced the Royals.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Royals Two-hit by a Rookie

Game Date: June 3, 2009
Kansas City @ Tampa Bay
Rays 9, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Niemann (5-4), LP: Bannister (4-3)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 23-29 / Record in June 0-2

Okay, I admit it. This feels a lot like the same old Royals. On paper, I don’t see how it’s possible. But on the field, they look just as lost as previous versions of the Royals’ roster. It’s not possible to make excuses for them at this point. They are just plain awful in every aspect of the game right now. So all of those fair-weathered fans who were waiting for the collapse, it’s here—maybe we’ll see you around next year if the Royals get off to a hot start. Or maybe we’ll see you in 2011. I don’t know.

I started this blog in 2004. The Royals were atrocious that season, going 58-104. I kept blogging in 2005 when they were even worse (56-106). And I was still blogging in 2006 when they showed a little improvement (62-100), and in 2007 when they showed more improvement (69-93). Then last year, they went 75-87, finishing the season on fire, and most of us who have been around for a while were starting to believe that the Royals could be .500 in 2009. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, but you know what? I’m not going anywhere.

I do wish I had some idea about why this team is playing so poorly, but I don’t. The starting rotation should be better than it’s been in a long time, but other than Zack Greinke and a handful of starts from Brian Bannister and Gil Meche, it hasn’t been good. We added more punch to the lineup in Mike Jacobs, but it hardly looks like enough. Our bullpen was supposed to be solid, but it has been terrible. We overpaid for Kyle Farnsworth and Horacio Ramirez and guys like Juan Cruz, John Bale, and Ron Mahay have performed worse than most of us imagined.

Our defensive woes don’t surprise me all that much. We have multiple guys playing out of position. Throw in an injury to Alex Gordon, which moved Mark Teahen to third base, and the right side of the infield resembles something you might see on a Double- or Triple-A field. Yeah, Butler has been better, but he still doesn’t look like he’s completely engaged over there and Alberto Callaspo has been a huge disappointment.

The Royals have lost 18 of their last 23 games, including six straight. When will the losing streak end? Who knows.

Tomorrow afternoon Gil Meche (2-5, 4.33) will go up against James Shields (4-4, 3.53). Meche is 2-4 in his career against the Rays with a 4.72 ERA in 55.1 IP. Shields is 4-0 against the Royals with a 2.57 ERA in 28.0 IP.

Brian Buchanan: Hoping for One More Shot

The Omaha World Herald published a refreshing article yesterday about 35-year-old Brian Buchanan, a DH/OF/RP for the Omaha Royals. He knows his playing days are just about over. In fact, he’s only had 34 at bats this season (he’s pitched in a couple of games as well). And even though the Royals have offered him the opportunity to coach in rookie ball, he wants to play out the season and then he’ll think about what might be next. His reasoning?

“I still love playing,” he said. “I love being around the guys in the clubhouse. I love going out and competing. I still get butterflies before every game.”

One glance at his history tells you how much he loves the game.

In 1994, he was drafted in the first round by the Yankees, but his career took a turn for the worst when he endured a severe ankle injury in 1995. He kept battling though, as evidenced by the fact that he has played 1,042 minor league games over 14 seasons.

And he’s had a shot at the big leagues as well, playing in 346 games for the Twins, Padres, and Mets. He still talks about those days in the big leagues. In the article, he talks about remembering the first time he was called up, his first hit, and his first hit in Camden Yards (he grew up an Orioles fan). Cal Ripken was playing third base and Buchanan singled past Ripken. Later in the inning, when Buchanan ended up at third base, he asked, “How you doing, Mr. Ripken?”

Mr. Ripken. You have to have love that.

At this point in his career, he knows he doesn’t have much of a chance at being called up to Kansas City and his numbers don’t really warrant it, but listen to what he said about it:

“I’m not going to fool myself and think I’m going to be the first one to go up,” he said. “If they want someone up there, it’s going to be someone young to get some experience. But do I still want to be in the big leagues? Absolutely. I’d love to get back, even if it was for two weeks, one week, whatever. I’m kind of real about the situation, but it’s a funny game. Stranger things have happened in this game.”

How cool would it be for the Royals to give him a September call up? I wouldn’t want him taking at bats from any of the young guys the Royals need to take a look at for 2010, but why not give Jose Guillen a day or two off in September, if the games are meaningless by then, and give Buchanan one last hurrah?

It sounds like he will accept a coaching position in 2010; if he does, he’ll be a model of perseverance, and everything a player should be, for them.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Royals Drop Fifth Straight

Game Date: June 2, 2009
Kansas City @ Tampa Bay
Rays 6, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Sonnanstine (4-5), LP: Davies (2-5)
KC Home Runs: Guillen (5), Olivo (5)
Royals Record: 23-28 / Record in June 0-1

Nearly everything is going wrong for the Royals right now—as evidenced by the game tonight.

They got a mediocre starting effort from Kyle Davies, except for the six walks he issued that came back to haunt him when Horacio Ramirez entered the game and allowed two of Davies’ walks to score. That was worse than mediocre. The bullpen woes continued beyond Ramirez. Roman Colon gave up two more runs.

We did get some good news today though regarding the pen. Joakim Soria is available. Sidney Ponson, who has been awful this season, was placed on the DL.

Back to the bad news again.

The Royals were facing a guy tonight who was about to removed from the starting rotation. Andy Sonnanstine had a 7.66 ERA entering the game, but even he was able to shut down our lifeless offense and presumably keep his spot in their rotation for now.

I know that Trey Hillman is trying different things to get the offense going, but I really don’t understand him hitting Alberto Callaspo second right now. He’s hitting .222 in the two-hole this season. When he hits seventh he’s hitting .344. And while Hillman is at it, why not hit DeJesus in the lead off spot since he’s accustomed to it and because his OBP is .400 in that spot this season? Maybe move Mitch Maier to the two-hole.

The Royals have lost 10 of their last 12 games and they now find themselves in fourth place, 5.5 games behind the Tigers. I keep thinking that the team can’t possibly keep playing so poorly in every facet of the game. Maybe that’s my way of coping.

Tomorrow night in Tampa, Brian Bannister (4-2, 3.64) will go up against Jeff Niemann (4-4, 4.44). Bannister is 1-2 in his career against the Rays with a 4.42 ERA in 18.1 IP. Niemann has never faced the Royals.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pen Can’t Hold White Sox, Royals Swept

Game Date: May 31, 2009
Chicago @ Kansas City
White Sox 7, Royals 4 / Box Score
WP: Thornton (2-1), LP: Bale (0-1), SV: Jenks (12)
KC Home Runs: None 
Royals Record: 23-27 / Record in May 11-17

All season I’ve been wondering what would happen after Zack Greinke gave up a few runs. We’re going to find out this weekend when he toes the rubber against the Blue Jays. But maybe in some small way, we’ve already found out.

After five inning yesterday, he’d given up four runs. He was over 90 pitches and his day appeared to be about over. And the stunner for me was seeing Scott Podsednik turn on him in the fifth inning and take him off the right field wall for a double. But he dug in and got through the next two innings without giving up a run. In fact, he sat the White Sox down in order in the sixth and seventh innings.

We all know what happened after the bullpen took over the game in the eighth and ninth innings. It was hard to watch, but not totally unexpected. John Bale is struggling right now and so is Juan Cruz. Cruz hasn’t looked right since he gave up four runs against Cleveland on May 21. Before that he had a 1.45 ERA, now it’s nearly 4.00. He’s given up seven runs in his last four innings of work.

But let’s be honest, the Royals aren’t excelling in any facet of the game right now.

They were outscored 23-9 by the White Sox this weekend. Before that they were outscored 22-11 by the Tigers. And before that they were outscored 12-3 by the Cardinals.

Their team ERA was 3.62 in April and 4.54 in May.

And the defense lately has been atrocious.

The Royals have won just two of their last ten games and unless we see improvement in all areas soon, this season could slip away in a hurry.

Tomorrow night in Tampa, Kyle Davies (2-4, 5.09) will go up against Andy Sonnanstine (3-5, 7.66). Davies is 0-1 in his career against the Rays with a 1.80 ERA in 5.0 IP. Sonnanstine is 1-1 against the Royals with a 3.48 ERA in 20.2 IP

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