Sunday, May 31, 2009

Royals Twitter Directory Update

I have some new information regarding the Royals Twitter Directory I started here last month. I told you that I was doing some checking to find out if the Joakim Soria account I linked to was legitimate. I heard back from Ryan Lefebvre and apparently Soria does have a Twitter account, but Lefebvre said he couldn't guarantee that the Twitter account I've linked to is Soria's. I guess time will tell.

If you aren’t listed in the directory, but you would like to be, please leave me a comment that includes your first name, last name, and Twitter account name and I’ll add you—although it probably won’t happen tomorrow since I’ll be leaving Omaha early to attend the game in Kansas City tomorrow afternoon.

UPDATE: An article on the Royals website confirms that the Joakim Soria Twitter account is legit. It also reveals that Mark Teahen has been tweeting as ESPY_Teahen. And it mentions Coco Crisp's account as well. The new links have have updated on the Royals Twitter Directory.

Defensive Woes Costly

Game Date: May 30, 2009
Chicago @ Kansas City
White Sox 5, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Linebrink (2-2), LP: Cruz (3-1), SV: Jenks (11)
KC Home Runs: Olivo (4)
Royals Record: 23-26 / Record in May 11-16

This team is turning out to be everything I feared it would be defensively. The combination of Billy Butler and Alberto Callaspo on the right side of the infield is a liability for the Royals and unfortunately, with Alex Gordon and Mike Aviles on the shelf, Hillman doesn’t have a lot of options because Teahen and Bloomquist are tied up elsewhere. And even when Gordon comes back, Mark Teahen will probably move back over to second base—a position he isn’t all that familiar with.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a first baseman forget that the second baseman covers the bag on a bunt up the first base line, but apparently that’s what happened to Billy Butler in the eighth inning when he intercepted a throw from John Bale to Callaspo, who was indeed covering the bag. The throw might not have been in time, but mistakes like this simply should not happen at the Major League level. Visions of Ken Harvey being hit in the back by a relay throw danced through my head when I saw this.

On the positive side, Gil Meche looked good. His breaking pitches had a lot of bite to them and they were down. Before the game Bob McClure said that he believed that Meche’s back problems were a thing of the past. I hope he’s right because this team could really use a healthy Gil Meche right now.

Tomorrow is Zack Greinke Day. Oh how we need a ZGD. Greinke (8-1, 0.84) will go up against John Danks (4-3, 4.59). Greinke is 5-8 against the White Sox in his career with a 4.23 ERA in 104.1 IP. Danks is 1-0 against the Royals with a 2.64 ERA in 30.2 IP.

I’ll be making my third trip to the K this season. It’ll be the first time this season I’ve had a chance to see Greinke pitch in person.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A New Domain

I finally registered a domain for Royal Reflections, which should make it easier for people to remember, find, and get to. The new url is: www.royalreflectionsblog.com. All of the old links are still supposed to work and the old url is supposed to be pointed at the new url, but if you see anything weird or if you see any broken links, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave me a comment or email so I can fix it.

The only issue I’ve had so far is losing my blogroll. I’ve reconstructed that so, everything should be in order. But I know how that goes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Clint Hurdle, Buddy Bell, and Other Fun Stuff

Game Date: May 29, 2009
Chicago @ Kansas City
White Sox 11, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Richard (2-0), LP: Bannister (4-2)
KC Home Runs: Butler (4)
Royals Record: 23-25 / Record in May 11-15

The Royals were destined to lose tonight. How could they possibly win on the same day that former Royals player, and now former Colorado Rockies manager, Clint Hurdle was fired? Throw in the fact that Hurdle was the man who replaced Buddy Bell when he was fired in Colorado and you knew it was going to be a bad night.

There much be some explanation, right? Other than the fact that our pitchers can’t get anybody our right now and our hitting is dismal.

Banny was rocked for six earned runs in five innings. Ponson was awful. And after that, it didn’t matter much.

Thankfully the Royals play in the AL Central—a place where you can be two games under .500 and still only be 3.5 games out of first place.

Going into this game, the Royals had a staff ERA of 5.02 over the last seven days and in that same stretch they hit a rather pathetic .215 with a .250 OBP. Their defense hasn’t exactly been stellar either. Moore tried to shake things up by making several roster moves this week and the team is still flat. I’m wondering what he’ll do next.

Is it Zack Greinke day yet? Uggghhhh.

Tomorrow night, Gil Meche (2-5, 4.55) will go up against Mark Buehrle (6-1, 2.59). Meche is 7-3 against the White Sox in his career with a 3.93 ERA in 89.1 IP. Buerhle is 19-8 against the Royals with a 3.48 ERA in 251.0 IP.

Spotlight on Travis Metcalf

Continuing my series of spotlighting various Omaha Royals, I turned my attention to right-handed hitting third baseman Travis Metcalf last night.

The 26-year-old played his college ball at Kansas, where he is the all-time home run leader with 29 dingers in three seasons. The Texas Rangers drafted him in 2004 in the 11th round. By 2005 he was named the Rangers' Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year (he had 22 HR and 94 RBI in Bakersfield that season). He made his Major League debut in 2007 with Texas, playing in 57 games, hitting .291 with 5 HR and 21 RBI. In 2008, he spent time in both Oklahoma City and Texas. And in April of this season, the Rangers designated him for assignment. The Royals claimed him off waivers and put him in Omaha where he has played 45 games so far this season. He's currently hitting .246 (.309 OBP) with 5 HR and 24 RBI.

Here is a breakdown of his at bats last night:

AB #1 (2nd inning, facing RHP Kevin Pucetas, nobody on, no outs): Metcalf worked the count full before he struck out looking on an 87 mph fastball on the inside corner.

AB #2 (fourth inning, facing Pucetas, one on, two outs): Pucetas worked Metcalf on the outside during the AB. The first two pitches were called strikes on the outside portion of the plate. Metcalf stepped out to regroup, then Pucetas tried to get him to chase the next pitch outside, but Metcalf didn't bite. With the count still in his favor, Pucetas went back outside but Metcalf didn't bite on that one either and the count was 2-2. Pucetas got away with one on the next pitch. He caught quite a bit of the plate, but Metcalf flew out to right field.

AB #3 (sixth inning, facing Pucetas, bases loaded, two outs): Omaha was down 3-0 at this point. Metcalf jumped on the first pitch. He hit it hard, but directly at the left fielder. Inning, and threat, over.

AB #4 (eighth inning, facing RHP Ramon Ortiz, one on, one out): Omaha was down 4-1. Ortiz came way inside to him for ball one. He came inside with a fastball on the second pitch and threw it by Metcalf who took a cut and missed it. He fouled the third pitch back against the press box, which was a little closer to me that I would prefer. The fourth pitch was low and outside to bring the count to 2-2. With the crowd chanting, "Let's go Royals, let's go!" Ortiz delivered the fifth pitch and Metcalf ground out to third.

So he ended up 0-for-4. He also committed an error at third base, but he also made a nice play, which I happened to catch on video (Luke Hochevar was on the mound--and I know I'm not great with the video camera, so cut me some slack):

video

The Royals obviously have Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen at third base. And they also have Mike Moustakas, currently playing in Wilmington, who could play third as well. But Metcalf gives them a little depth at the position, and he could be useful in a pinch in Kansas City, especially since he has Major League experience.

Hochevar, Solid in Omaha Start

Luke Hochevar got the start for the Omaha Royals last night. He wasn’t as dominant as he was earlier this season in Omaha, but he was good. He gave up two earned runs on eight hits and one walk in six innings. His ERA rose from 0.90 to 1.17. Unfortunately, he took his first loss of the season because the bats were silent for the Royals until the last couple of innings.

The Omaha Royals reached a milestone last night. 6,090 people were in attendance and that put them over the 11-million fan mark in their 41-year history. The organization is planning all sorts of giveaways during their 11 scheduled games in June. If you live in the area and haven’t been out to a game for a while, you have some added incentive now.

Here are a few photos of Hochevar in action last night (and one of Casey in the press box):

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Royals Drop Another Series

Game Date: May 27, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City
Tigers 8, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Porcello (6-3), LP: Davies (2-4)
KC Home Runs: Teahen (6)
Royals Record: 23-24 / Record in May 11-14

The Royals have had several opportunities this season to build some momentum after something special happens, but they haven’t been able to do it. Last week, they had that magical 9th inning comeback win against the Indians, only to lose the next three games. Then they had the Greinke masterpiece last night, followed by a dud of a game this afternoon.

Kyle Davies hasn’t won a game since April 30. His three previous outings before this afternoon were mediocre to good, but today he struggled, even giving up a home run to Placido Polanco—his first of the season. I don’t want to overstate this, but with Davies being the number three guy, he is the hinge between the top and the bottom of the rotation. With Gil Meche not looking right physically, the Royals need Davies to step up and be the guy he was in the second half of last season.

Mark Teahen laid an egg at third base today. He committed an error that ended up leading to three runs and he misplayed a couple of other balls. I hope this was just a bad game for him and that he’ll shake it off. He had a nice day at the plate, so that counts for something, but the Royals need his glove because they are already struggling defensively.

My take on the Trey Hillman ejection is pretty simple: unless there was intent by Hillman to spit in the umpire’s eye, then it was ridiculous to suspend him for a game. I don’t think anybody really believes Hillman spit in the umpire’s eye on purpose. In the big scheme of things, the one game suspension wasn’t that big of deal. He served the suspension today and the matter is over.

Thankfully the Royals have an off day tomorrow. On Friday night they will begin a new series at home against the White Sox. Brian Bannister (4-1, 2.79) will go up against Clayton Richard (1-0, 3.55). Bannister is 2-3 in his career against the White Sox with a 7.66 ERA in 44.2 IP. Richard is 0-1 against the Royals with a 5.23 ERA in 10.1 IP.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Greinke Continues Stellar Season

Game Date: May 26, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City
Royals 6, Tigers 1 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (8-1), LP: Jackson (4-3)
KC Home Runs: Guillen (4)
Royals Record: 23-23 / Record in May 11-13

If Carl Pavano pitched for the Tigers, would he have said that Tigers’ hitters wore Zack Greinke out tonight because they scored a run against him? You have to wonder.

Zack Greinke is putting together one of the greatest seasons in the modern era. Will it last? Who knows. But enjoy each start because we’re seeing something that we might just be telling our grandchildren about someday.

Let’s look at a few of Greinke’s accomplishments so far this season:

Greinke is on pace to go 28-3 which, if he were able to stay on pace, he would best Bob Welch in 1990, who went 27-6. You have to go back to a time when four-man rotations were king to find a pitcher with more wins. Denny McLain was 31-6 in 1968 with 41 starts.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spotlight on Kila Ka'aihue

Each time I go to an Omaha Royals game this season, I’m going to focus on one player and shine the spotlight on him—breaking down each at bat (or each inning pitched). Tonight, the Omaha Royals defeated the Fresno Grizzlies (the Giants Triple-A team) 4-1 behind a strong pitching effort by Heath Phillips, who picked up the complete game win. But my focus was on Kila Ka’ahue.

Kila Ka’ahue, 25, raised more than a few eyebrows in 2008 when he hit 37 home runs and drove in 100 RBI (combined) in NW Arkansas and Omaha. He got called up to Kansas City on September 2 and saw action in 12 games, going 6-for-21 (.286) with 1 HR and 1 RBI. He was named the 2008 George Brett Award winner—an award that is issued to the top hitter in the organization each season.

The 6-3, 221 left-handed hitting first baseman was selected in the 15th round of the 2002 draft by the Royals. He has a reputation for being patient at the plate. Going into 2008, Baseball America named him as having the best strike zone discipline in the organization. I got a glimpse of his patience tonight.

Here is a breakdown of his four at bats (he hit clean up):

AB #1 (1st inning, facing RHP Ryan Sadowski, one out, bases empty): Ka’aihue worked the count to 3-1 and then lined a single into right field.

AB #2 (4th inning, facing Sadowski, leading off): Ka’aihue worked the count full before striking out on a 90 mph fastball.

AB #3 (6th inning, facing Sadowski, one out, two on): Ka’aihue worked the count full before drawing a walk to load the bases.

AB #4 (8th inning, facing RHP Steve Palazzolo, no outs, bases empty): Ka’aihue worked the count full before hitting a line drive over the right centerfield wall. I just happened to be shooting a video of the at bat from the press box. Here are the final couple of pitches:

video

For the record, Ka’aihue also committed an error in the top of the seventh inning.

In each of Ka'aihue's at bats, he drew at least three balls. Sadowski wasn’t particularly wild (he walked three guys in six innings). Ka’aihue just flat knows how to work the count. Going into tonight, the big left-handed hitter had drawn 525 walks in 810 Minor League games. He has 120 home runs and 487 RBI in that span with a .385 OBP.

He’s the type of guy you’d love to see get a shot with the Royals at the Major League level. Unfortunately he’s stuck behind Billy Butler and Mike Jacobs. Dayton Moore obviously knew all of these numbers when he traded for Jacobs, so he must not have been convinced that Ka’aihue was ready for Major League pitching. Or he intended to allow him to put up big numbers in the Minor Leagues so his stock would continue to rise and then he could trade him for something the Royals need. Or maybe he just wanted depth. If Butler or Jacobs were to get injured, Moore wouldn’t have to look far to find someone to replace them.

Meche Exits Early in Royals Loss

Game Date: May 25, 2009
Detroit @ Kansas City
Tigers 13, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Verlander (5-2), LP: Meche (2-5)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 22-23 / Record in May 10-13

I’m not sure why Gil Meche hasn’t been placed on the DL. Surely something is wrong with him. His cutter isn’t cutting. His breaking pitches aren’t breaking. And his fastball is up. If something isn’t wrong with him, then he, and the Royals, are in big trouble.

Sidney Ponson and Ron Mahay continue to struggle. They gave up a combined five runs. Jamey Wright gave up four runs.

All the while, the offense was asleep again.

At least tomorrow is Zack Greinke Day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bloomquist Hustles to a Royals Win

Game Date: May 24, 2009
Kansas City @ St. Louis
Royals 3, Cardinals 2 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (4-1), LP: Pineiro (5-4), SV: Cruz (2)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 22-22 / Record in May 10-12

Just when you begin to wonder if the season is headed south, the Royals find a way to win. Brian Bannister had another good outing—and even a hit and RBI. Willie Bloomquist showed us with hustle looks like as he stretched a single into a double and eventually came around to score. And Juan Cruz played the role of closer. You still have to be concerned about the lack of runs, but they scored enough to win today, and the Royals are back at .500.

Royals Make Six Roster Moves

I was chatting with a writer in the press box at an Omaha Royals game last week when Tug Hulett came up to bat. I said something along the lines of, with Aviles struggling with the bat and Callaspo struggling with the glove, I wonder why the Royals called up Luis Hernandez (0 HR, 13 RBI, .292 AVG in Omaha) when Hulett has much batter stats (4 HR, 32 RBI, .296 AVG)? They can both play the middle infield, so that’s not an issue. Maybe Hernandez is better defensively, I don’t know.

It doesn’t matter now because they are both playing for Kansas City. Hulett was called up and the Royals made a several other moves after the game yesterday as well. Luke Hochevar was sent down to Omaha. Mike Aviles was placed on the 15-day DL; so was Robinson Tejeda (tendinitis in his right shoulder). In addition to calling up Hulett, The Royals also called up John Bale and Roman Colon. The Royals have an off day this coming Thursday, so they will probably skip Hochevar’s spot in the rotation. Willie Bloomquist will presumably become the starting shortstop. Hulett and Hernandez will be the utility guys.

I think the move regarding Hochevar was a little quick. Aviles should have been placed on the DL the minute he finally admitted he’s had a sore right forearm. Bale really has never been all that effective at the Major League level, but in his six appearances in NW Arkansas this year he has a 1.35 ERA, so let’s hope his success carries over. Colon was 2-3 in Omaha with a 2.84 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. I’m not sure he’s big league material (he has 5.03 career ERA in 73 games at the Major League level—and he hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2006 with Detroit), but we’re about to find out.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bats Still Sleeping

Game Date: May 23, 2009
Kansas City @ St. Louis
Cardinals 5, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Lohse (4-3), LP: Hochevar (0-2)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 21-22 / Record in May 9-12

Not much can be said about this one. Hochevar struggled early, then pulled himself together to finally have a decent outing. But it didn’t matter because the offense is still asleep.

Royal Reflections Podcast #4 with Will McDonald

Lee Warren hosts Will McDonald, the blogger who runs Royals Review. Listen as they talk about the Royals blogosphere, how Will became a Royals fan, sabermetrics, the Allard Baird years, several of the Royals’ first round draft picks, and the current roster.

Friday, May 22, 2009

You Know You Are Struggling When...

Game Date: May 22, 2009
Kansas City @ St. Louis
Cardinals 5, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Wellemeyer (4-4), LP: Davies (2-3)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 21-21 / Record in May 9-11

How do you know when your offense is sputtering? When Todd Wellemeyer, with an ERA over 5.00, shuts you down.

Sure the ball that Mark Teahen roped down the left field line in the sixth inning that bounced over the six inch high wall for a ground rule double might have cost the Royals a run. But, it’s Todd Wellemeyer. Come on.

In this seventh inning the Royals finally got something going. With the Cardinals up 2-0, the Royals had guys on second and third base with one out. Hillman pinch hit for Aviles (good move), but Bloomquist struck out. Not getting the guy home from third with less than two outs is not acceptable and Royals hitters allow it to happen way too often. Unfortunately, Butler couldn’t pick up Bloomquist. He struck out too.

The Royals were still in the game though until the bullpen, in this case Horacio Ramirez, gave up more runs and put it out of reach.

And so now the Royals are dead even at .500. How will they respond?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Royals Pen Loses Lead

Game Date: May 21, 2009
Cleveland @ Kansas City
Indians 8, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Pavano (4-4), LP: Ramirez (0-2)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 21-20 / Record in May 9-10

Carl Pavano is convinced that the Indians wore Zack Greinke out, which is a tad bit odd given the fact that Greinke left the game after six innings with a 3-2 lead.

Here’s what Pavano said:

“We faced a pitcher who’s at the top of his game every time out and we wore him out, I think," said Pavano. “It looked like he was kind of laboring and we got him out of there and were able to get to the bullpen.”

In spite of Pavano’s comments, the truth is the bullpen gave this one away. Horacio Ramirez gave up two runs and Juan Cruz gave up four. I have no idea why Hillman continues to give the ball to Cruz in non-save situations since he’s the primary closer while Joakim Soria is on the shelf, but he does.

Greinke’s ERA rose to a miniscule 0.82.

For the record, Pavano’s is 6.10.

Royal Reflections Podcast #3 with Dwayne Martin

Lee Warren hosts Kansas City Royals fan Dwayne Martin. Martin recalls his memories about the Kansas City A’s, Buddy Blatner and the rest of the Royals’ broadcast team over the years, seeing Paul Splittorff and Dick Howser play before they made it to the big leagues, and his thoughts about the current roster.

Royals Fall a Run Short in Comeback

Game Date: May 20, 2009
Cleveland @ Kansas City
Indians 6, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Laffey (3-0), LP: Ponson (1-5), SV: Wood (6)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 21-19 / Record in May 9-9

Who among us didn’t think we were going to see a repeat of last night—especially after Kerry Wood came into the game in the bottom of the ninth with a one run lead? He almost gave us two come from behind victories in a row, but it wasn’t meant to be.

The Royals shouldn’t even have been behind late in the game, but Aviles dropped the ball while trying to turn two in the seventh and the tying run scored. It’s easy to kick a guy while he’s down, but Aviles just doesn’t look like Major League material right now. The injury probably has a lot to do with it, but by keeping him on the active roster, he’s hurting the team. I’m thinking that a 15-day trip to the DL might do him a world of good.

Enough of that.

I’m still scratching my head over Hillman’s decision to allow Mike Aviles to hit in the bottom of the eighth inning with two guys on base and only one out. Why not pull him in favor of Miguel Olivo or Willie Bloomquist? Aviles has been atrocious at the plate this season, but you know that already. I told a friend who was watching the game with me that Aviles would strike out. He did.

I was disappointed in Mark Teahen’s at bat in the ninth. He had bases loaded with one out and the Royals were down just one run. Kerry Wood was wild as all get out, as evidenced by the fact that he walked the bases loaded. But for some reason, Teahen swung at the first pitch he saw from Wood and he missed it, giving Wood the advantage. Teahen ended up striking out. DeJesus followed suit and the game was over.

Thankfully, tomorrow is Zack Greinke Day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Royals Steal One

Game Date: May 19, 2009
Cleveland @ Kansas City
Royals 6, Indians 5 / Box Score
WP: Farnsworth (1-3), LP: Wood (1-2)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (9), Teahen (5)
Royals Record: 21-18 / Record in May 9-8

Somebody asked me this afternoon if the Royals would be in first place in the AL Central if they won tonight. The thing is . . . I haven’t made it a habit to do any scoreboard watching since the 1980s—with a brief little respite in 2003. I haven’t had any reason to scoreboard watch. By mid-May the Royals are usually buried in the standings. Then something like tonight happens; the Royals scored four runs against closer Kerry Wood to steal one away. How could I not look up the standings after that? For the record, the Royals are 1.0 game out of first place, behind the Tigers.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Royals Overcome Errors to Pick up the Win

Game Date: May 17, 2009  
Baltimore @ Kansas City
Royals 7, Orioles 4 / Box Score
WP: Cruz (3-0), LP: Johnson (2-2)
KC Home Runs: None  
Royals Record: 20-18 / Record in May 8-8

Another poor outing by Luke Hochevar and another defensive nightmare, but the Royals found a way to win anyway. How about that suicide squeeze that Hillman put on with John Buck at third base? I didn’t see it coming the first time when Crisp fouled the pitch off. And I certainly didn’t see it coming the second time, but Crisp got the bunt down, and Buck slid safely into home head first. The Royals salvaged the series, getting a split. They are off today and they will open a new series at home tomorrow against the Indians.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Royals Unable to Solve Hill

Game Date: May 16, 2009  
Baltimore @ Kansas City
Orioles 3, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Hill (1-0), LP: Davies (2-2), SV: Sherrill (7)
KC Home Runs: None  
Royals Record: 19-18 / Record in May 7-8

Kyle Davies had a case of Hochevar-itis in the beginning of this one—he looked so hyped up that he couldn’t get the ball down. Pitch after pitched sailed high. He finally settled down and ended up going seven innings, giving up three earned runs, but for some reason the Royals struggled at the plate against Rich Hill even though his stuff didn’t look all that great. I would have liked to have seen Alberto Callaspo knock the ball down in the fifth inning when Markakis hit a grounder up the middle—at least that would have kept Izturis from scoring, but he wasn’t able to and it turned out to be the winning run. Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Greinke Stops the Losing Streak

Game Date: May 15, 2009  
Baltimore @ Kansas City
Royals 8, Orioles 1 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (7-1), LP: Eaton (2-4)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (8), Olivo (3) 
Royals Record: 19-17 / Record in May 7-7

Another Zack Greinke start, another Zack Greinke win. He didn’t have his best stuff, but good enough to keep the Orioles from scoring more than once. The offense finally came to life. Mike Jacobs, Jose Guillen, Miguel Olivo, and Alberto Callaspo had big nights at the plate. The only thing that really bugged me about this game is the fact that Trey Hillman used Juan Cruz in the eighth inning when the Royals were up 8-1. Isn’t that why the Royals are paying Kyle Farnsworth nearly $5 million this season—to eat a couple of innings during mop up duty?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Butler Has a Big Night; Meche Not So Much

Game Date: May 14, 2009  
Baltimore @ Kansas City
Orioles 9, Royals 5 / Box Score
WP: Guthrie (3-3), LP: Meche (2-4)
KC Home Runs: Butler (3)
Royals Record: 18-17 / Record in May 6-7

Losing streaks are never fun. But today is Zack Greinke Day. So, let’s not dwell on the losing streak. Gil Meche still doesn’t look right. He hasn’t all season. I really wish the Royals would put him on the DL and give his body a chance to heal. After the game last night he said he felt fatigued because he’s unable to perform his normal routine between starts out of fear of tweaking his back. Nice to see Billy Butler have such a big night at the plate. Now let’s hope David DeJesus can get things figured out soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Royals Drop Fifth Straight

Game Date: May 13, 2009  
Kansas City @ Oakland
A’s 7, Royals 2 / Box Score
WP: Outman(1-0), LP: Bannister (3-1)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (7)
Royals Record: 18-16 / Record in May 6-6

The Royals went on five day road trip and they left their offense at home. Brian Bannister pitched well, taking a shutout into the sixth inning, but he had to leave the game with a stiff shoulder. The A’s put a five-spot on the board in the seventh inning and that was more than enough to win. The losing streak has reached five. But the Royals return home now to begin a new series against the Orioles. Big crowds are expected and hopefully that energy will spark the offense.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

10 Reasons Not to Jump Off the Bandwagon

After the Royals lost their fourth game in a row last night, I began to hear comments like “Same old Royals.” No, not really, but fair-weather fans can’t know the difference. That’s the problem with being fair-weather. So, while in the midst of losing streak, let me offer some reasons not jump off the bandwagon:

1. Jumping off is unbecoming. You are either a fan or not. Choose one.

2. Zack Greinke. Enough said.

3. Losing streaks are part of the game. Just relax.

4. The starting rotation. It’s deep and relatively solid.

5. Depth. The Royals are over .500 without Alex Gordon and with an injured Joakim Soria.

6. David DeJesus will hit. He always does.

7. Alberto Callaspo and Willie Bloomquist. Pleasant surprises; fun to watch.

8.  Jamey Wright, Juan Cruz, and Robinson Tejeda. Their ERAs are under 2.00.

9. National attention. Now that the national press is learning how to pronounce our players’ names, it would be good if they saw fans in the stands supporting said players.

10. It’s Major League Baseball. Don’t take it for granted or you might lose it one day.

Hochevar Shelled in Debut

Game Date: May 12, 2009  
Kansas City @ Oakland
A’s 12, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Cahill (2-2), LP: Hochevar (0-1)
KC Home Runs: Crisp (3), Jacobs (6)
Royals Record: 18-15 / Record in May 6-5

Downright ugly. Hochevar was up in the zone early and the A’s jumped all over him for eight runs in two innings. Hillman burned five relievers after that, which was odd given the fact that he used Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez—both of whom could have burned more than two innings each, but I’m sure he had his reasons. Let’s hope Brian Bannister can play stopper tomorrow night.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hochevar Recalled; Soria to the DL

One of the obvious benefits to having depth in an organization is having options. The Royals have decided to recall Luke Hochevar from Omaha, who has been dominant down there (5-0, 0.90 ERA), to take Sidney Ponson’s spot in the starting rotation. Ponson will move to the bullpen. No further roster moves will need to be made to accommodate the changes because Joakim Soria was also placed on the 15-day DL.

Hochevar deserves another shot at the rotation. He pitched well this spring and he’s been Greinke-like in Omaha. Ponson has limited experience out of the pen, but assuming he can make the transition, he’ll bring an experienced arm to the middle innings. Putting Soria on the DL is a good move. He hasn’t been right since the season started. Hillman is saying he’ll go with closer by committee for now, but presumably Juan Cruz will get the majority of the opportunities to close games.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Royals Swept in Anaheim

Game Date: May 10, 2009  
Kansas City @ Anaheim
Angels 4, Royals 3 / Box Score
WP: Shields (1-2), LP: Wright (0-1), SV: Fuentes (9)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 18-14 / Record in May 6-4

Too many defensive problems late in the game were costly for the Royals in this one. Jose Guillen failed to come up on a ball he could have caught—letting it fall in for a single. Jamey Wright tossed a ball into center field in what should have been a double play to end the seventh inning. Miguel Olivo dropped a throw to home plate that should have produced an out. When the smoke cleared, the Angels scored three runs in the seventh inning to take the lead. Torii Hunter made a beautiful catch in the ninth inning—going over the wall to pull a home run ball back. Tomorrow seems like the perfect time for a day off. The Royals begin a new two-game series in Oakland on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Saunders Outduels Greinke

Game Date: May 9, 2009  
Kansas City @ Anaheim
Angels 1, Royals 0 / Box Score
WP: Saunders (5-1), LP: Greinke (6-1)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 18-13 / Record in May 6-3

I still like pitchers’ duels. Of course, I’d like to see the Royals on the winning end of them, but they are still fun to watch. Zack Greinke wasn’t quite as good as he’s been this season, but he was good enough to only allow one run. At the plate, Hillman played for the big inning early and that didn’t work out. When he played small ball, the Royals didn’t execute. They Royals will try to prevent the sweep in Anaheim tomorrow afternoon.

Lack of Offense, Guillen Mistake Costly

Game Date: May 8, 2009  
Kansas City @ Anaheim
Angels 4, Royals 1 / Box Score
WP: Palmer (3-0), LP: Meche (2-3), SV: Fuentes (8)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 18-12 / Record in May 6-2

Matt Palmer kept Royals hitters off balance all night while Gil Meche kept it close. In the bottom of the sixth, with the Angels leading 2-1, Jose Guillen simply missed a fly ball he should have caught and Howie Kendrick ended up with a two-run inside the park home run (which should have been an error instead) and that seemed to seal the Royals fate. If you are looking for a positive, Kyle Farnsworth pitched two scoreless innings—his sixth straight outing without giving up a run. You know what comes next—Zack Greinke Day. Go Zack.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Royal Reflections Podcast #2 with Johnny Gibson

Lee Warren hosts Kansas City Royals fan Johnny Gibson. Gibson discusses how he became a Royals fan, some of his favorite Royal memories, and his thoughts about the current roster.
Here's a link to the article referred to in the podcast about Mike Sweeney stealing home during a game in 2002 against the Yankees.

Royals Win Sixth Straight; Bannister Strong

Game Date: May 7, 2009 
Seattle @ Kansas City 
Royals 3, Mariners 1 / Box Score
WP: Bannister (3-0), LP: Washburn (3-2), SV: Soria (7)
KC Home Runs: None
Royals Record: 18-11 / Record in May 6-1

Brian Bannister is beginning to look like the Banny of 2007—the one that everybody was so high on. He pitched six scoreless innings this afternoon and had a season high seven strikeouts. Add some timely hitting by Billy Butler and Mike Aviles and the Royals took a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning. Joakim Soria struggled, giving up a run and allowing four guys to reach base, but he finally shut the door on the Mariners and the Royals won their sixth straight game. By the way, how eerie was it to see Mike Sweeney wearing number five in Kauffman Stadium?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ponson Gets First Win; Teahen Goes Deep

Game Date: May 6, 2009 
Seattle @ Kansas City 
Royals 9, Mariners 1 / Box Score
WP: Ponson (1-4), LP: Silva (1-3)
KC Home Runs: Teahen (4)
Royals Record: 17-11 / Record in May 5-1

I tuned in to this game in the fourth inning—just in time to see the Royals go up 8-0. Then, I sat back and watched them cruise to an easy win. Looking at Ponson’s numbers, he had a good outing. Probably just in the nick of time for his sake. Mark Teahen was 3-for-5 with a home run and 3 RBI. Billy Butler and Willie Bloomquist had nice nights as well. This was the fifth straight win for the Royals and with the Detroit vs. Chicago postponement, it gives the Royals a full 2.0 game lead in the AL Central.

Royals Sweep White Sox

Game Date: May 5, 2009 
Chicago @ Kansas City 
Royals 8, White Sox 7 (11 inn.) / Box Score
WP: Cruz (2-0), LP: Broadway (0-1)
KC Home Runs: Jacobs (4), Callaspo (2)
Royals Record: 16-11 / Record in May 4-1

In contrast to last night, this one wasn’t pretty. The Royals fell behind by four runs in the third inning. Davies was struggling and the White Sox looked to be on the verge of blowing the game wide open. Then Mike Jacobs hit a three-run bomb to center field to pull the Royals to within a run. The White Sox countered with two more runs, but the Royals clawed their way back with some great plate appearances (they drew 11 walks for the night) and they tied the game 7-7 at the end of seven. Jamey Wright did an outstanding job to keep the White Sox scoreless for the eighth, ninth, and ten innings. And then in the eleventh inning, John Buck singled in the winning run.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hochevar is 5-0 with Omaha

While Zack Greinke is the talk of baseball, the Royals have another starting pitcher in their system that is putting together quite a season: Luke Hochevar.

Hochevar is 5-0 in his first five starts for the Omaha Royals with a 1.13 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. In an article published in the Omaha World Herald this morning, he says he knows what he is doing on the mound now and that he’s comfortable, confident, and prepared.

You have to wonder how much longer Trey Hillman will continue to go with Sidney Ponson when Hochevar finally seems to be ready.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Something Special Going on in KC

Game Date: May 4, 2009 
Chicago @ Kansas City
Royals 3, White Sox 0 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (6-0), LP: Colon (2-2)
KC Home Runs: DeJesus (3)
Royals Record: 15-11 / Record in May 3-1

Part six of the Zack Greinke show. Another complete game shutout. Twice Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White were silent in the broadcast booth after Greinke ended an inning. The first time happened at the end of the eighth when Greinke struck out Wilson Betemit. The fans were standing and cheering and nothing needed to be said. The second time happened after Greinke got the final out. The silence was a great way to avoid stepping on the moment.

Royals Twitter Directory

Here’s a working list of Royals players, media, bloggers, and fans. Just click the links and then click on the follow button once you get to each Twitter account page:

Players:
Former Royals:
    Ballclub:
    Minor Leagues:
    Media:
    Bloggers:
    Fans:
    I have no way of knowing the legitimacy of any of these Twitter account names. I have interacted with some of the people listed here, but not all of them. Just want you to know that up front.

    If you’d like to be added to this list, please leave a comment with your real first and last name, your Twitter name, and tell me which list you’d like to be added to. I’ll check out your account. I will not add any accounts that look like spam and I also will not be adding any aggregator type accounts. I reserve the right to reject requests for any reason.

    Comments are on moderate. Just leave your request once and I’ll get to it as soon as I can. Thanks!

    Royals Fun on Twitter

    If you aren’t familiar with Twitter, then here’s a good reason to become familiar with it—there’s a group of Royals fans who meet there during games and we have fun, polite, running conversations about the events of each game. We guess when Hillman might be considering a pitching a change, when he might pinch hit, who he might bring into the game defensively, etc.

    Today would be a great time to join us since Zack Greinke is pitching tonight. Here are the steps to signing up for Twitter, if you aren’t familiar with it:

    1. Sign up for a free account at Twitter.com.
    2. Click here and begin to search for an “follow” other Royals fans. (Follow them by click on their Twitter name and then click on the “follow” button on their Twitter page.) Or see below for the list of people you can follow.
    3. Some of the Royals fans you are following will begin to follow you.
    4. From the main Twitter page, begin to comment about the game in the “What are you doing” box. Your followers will see your comments and they can either reply to you (allowing everyone else to see it) or they can send you a direct message (that only you can see).
    5. I’d love to have you follow me. Just click here and click on the follow button.
    6. Have fun!

    If you want to enjoy Twitter a little more, you can install one of these desktop or smart phone applications:

    Sunday, May 03, 2009

    Royals Come Back to Win Another Series

    Game Date: May 3, 2009 
    Kansas City @ Minnesota 
    Royals 7, Twins 5 / Box Score
    WP: Meche (2-2), LP: Baker (0-4), SV: Soria (6)
    KC Home Runs: Guillen (3)
    Royals Record: 14-11 / Record in May 2-1

    If the Royals do make any noise in the AL Central this year, this might be the game people remember. Scott Baker took a 4-0 lead and a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Before the inning was over, the Royals scored five runs and took the lead. The big blow was a three-run home run by Jose Guillen. The Royals still have some defensive issues to work out (they made three errors), but you can see their overall confidence building by the game.

    Tony Pena’s One-handed Swing Explained

    Over the years, I’ve learned that if something looks odd, there’s usually a good reason. Last night, in the Royals half of the eleventh inning, Tony Pena Jr. took a one-handed swing at a ball, hitting a dribbler back to the pitcher, prompting broadcasters and fans alike to say, “What in the world was that?”

    Turns out that he’d broken a bone in his left hand earlier in the at bat. I can’t understand why he wouldn’t have taken himself out of the game at that point though. How could he expect to play defense in the bottom half of the inning? I don’t know why he didn’t take himself out, but he ended up turning a double play to end the game, so he must have known his body.

    Pena was placed on the 15-day DL and Luis Hernandez was called up from Omaha to take his place. In 20 games, Hernandez was hitting .292 in Omaha with 0 HR, 13 RBI.

    Saturday, May 02, 2009

    Willie Bloomquist Has Breakout Night

    Game Date: May 2, 2009 
    Kansas City @ Minnesota 
    Royals 10, Twins 7 (11 inn.) / Box Score
    WP: Soria (1-0), LP: Breslow (0-1)
    KC Home Runs: Bloomquist (1)
    Royals Record: 13-11 / Record in May 1-1

    If you saw this game, you know how ugly it was: 17 runs, 29 hits, and 4 errors. Through it all, Willie Bloomquist was the unlikely hero, going deep once (his first HR since 2007), stealing two bases, and going 3-for-5 with a walk and two runs scored. John Buck drew a bases loaded walk in the top of the eleventh to give the Royals a lead. The Royals scored twice more and Joakim Soria pitched the final 1.2 innings to pick up the win.

    Ponson Hit Hard in Royals Loss

    Game Date: May 1, 2009 
    Kansas City @ Minnesota 
    Twins 7, Royals 5 / Box Score
    WP: Slowey (4-0), LP: Ponson (0-4), SV: Nathan (4)
    KC Home Runs: None
    Royals Record: 12-11 / Record in May 0-1

    This was not Ponson’s night. In fact, at 0-4 with an ERA over 7.00, you have to wonder if Ponson might be this season’s Brett Tomko, but on a shorter lease. Tomko was 2-7 with a 6.32 ERA when he pitched his last game with the Royals last season on June 11. With Luke Hochevar 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA in Omaha, my guess is, Ponson’s days in Royal blue are limited.

    Friday, May 01, 2009

    How Many Games Will the Royals Win?

    Optimism is definitely running high among Kansas City fans--at least among those fans who visit Royal Reflections. I just closed the poll question that asked: How many games will the Royals win in 2009?

    Here are the final results:

    81-90 games 51% (16 votes)
    71-80 games 22% (7 votes)
    91+ games 12% (4 votes)
    61-70 games 9% (3 votes)
    51-60 games 3% (1 vote)

    So, 63% of those who participated believe that the Royals will at least finish .500. 12% believe they will win 91 or more games—which you have to believe would be good enough to win the AL Central.

    I’ll have another poll question up soon.

     
    Clicky Web Analytics