Friday, April 25, 2008

Royals Erupt for 6-Run 8th, Beat Jays 8-4

Finally, signs of life in the Royals' offense.

Kansas City averted what would have been a disappointing blown save by Leo Nunez, and scored six times in the bottom of the eighth inning to snap a seven-game losing streak with an 8-4 win against the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals led 2-1 when Nunez took the mound for the top of the eighth, with Zack Greinke in line for his fourth win of the year, but the Blue Jays scored three times -- the first runs of the year allowed by Nunez -- to take a 4-2 lead.

But Kansas City rallied with its biggest single-inning scoring output of the year by scoring six runs on five hits, two walks, and two Toronto errors in the fateful eighth frame. Catcher John Buck's second double of the night drove in the winning run.

Despite the blown save, Nunez (2-0) got credit for the victory due to Kansas City's offensive explosion in the eighth. Greinke took a no decision after limiting Toronto to five hits and one earned run in seven innings. He struck out four and walked one, and the lone run scored on a solo home run to right center by Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay in the seventh.

Every Royals player with a plate appearance in the game had at least one hit, led by two hits apiece by Buck and center fielder David DeJesus. Buck and first baseman Ross Gload each scored a pair of runs, with Gload hustling for a crucial leadoff double, and then scoring the game's first run in the fifth inning.

Closer Joakim Soria came in and worked a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation to preserve the win and snap Kansas City's winless streak.

The Royals and Blue Jays play game two of the weekend series Saturday at 6:10, with Kansas City rookie right-hander Luke Hochevar (0-1, 11.57) facing Toronto right-hander Shaun Marcum (2-1, 3.42).

Ross Gload Photo Credit: Reuters Pictures

Back in the Cellar, Again

I'm really an optimist. But after 20-plus miserable years of watching their favorite baseball team, I'd have to guess that most Kansas City Royals fans are pessimists by this point, and someone told me once that "a pessimist is simply an optimist with experience." Well, I have to admit that there must be some measure of pessimism brewing inside me, because I knew that I'd be writing these words at some point this season...

The Kansas City Royals have fallen into fifth place in the American League Central Division.

After dropping both games of a doubleheader versus Cleveland Thursday night, by scores of 9-6 and 2-0, the Royals have now lost seven straight games to fall to 9-13 on the season. The Detroit Tigers, who started the season with a record of 2-10, are now a half game ahead of KC with a mark of 10-13. Even with the six runs scored in the first game of the twinbill tonight, the Royals have scored just 18 runs during the losing streak.

So, Kansas City's promising start to the 2008 season has turned into a pumpkin, and the team finds itself in a familiar spot in the A.L. Central -- looking up at the rest of the division from last place.

I don't like it at all. This offense was supposed to be improved, and all this losing brings out my inner pessimist. I guess that just speaks to my level of experience watching this organization. Ugh...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I had to force myself to stay away from the computer for awhile after tonight's game, because that was just a sorry effort on the part of the Kansas City Royals. Pathetic. Awful. Anemic. Horrendous. And definitely, embarrassing.

For the past week, the Royals have looked an awful lot like last year's team, with very little offensive punch, and spotty pitching. What happened to the new attitude? Where's the team that opened with three wins in Detroit, and was on such a roll until heading to the West Coast last week?

Here are some thoughts:

--Something has to be wrong -- physically -- with Gil Meche. I mean, he gave me a glimmer of hope when he avoided trouble to escape with a 3-2 win against the Angels last Wednesday, but he was back to looking very hittable tonight. His ball was up in the zone, which resulted in only one ground ball out, and seven fly ball outs. He allowed two home runs, including the grand slam to Casey Blake in the fateful fourth inning. Meche is certainly not C.C. Sabathia. But I guess it helps me deal with his 8.00 ERA by realizing that even the best pitchers can get off to dreadful starts. Then again, I guess the Royals (and a temperature of 69 degrees at first pitch) were just the tonic that Sabathia needed to get his season back on track, and Meche can't face the Royals.

--My patience with Jose Guillen is starting to wear thin. The guy went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in the game tonight, and I see absolutely no emotion from him. Does he care that he's sucking? He just strikes out, and then casually strolls back to the dugout like it's no big deal. I want to see some fire in this guy! I want to know that he's pissed off that he just earned the Golden Sombrero. WTF, Jose?

--I think it's time to move Mark Teahen back to sixth or seventh in the order again. Since Teahen was moved up to third in the lineup, he's batting .254 (15-for-59) with 15 strikeouts and just two runs batted in.

--Yasuhiko Yabuta is obviously struggling with the transition to using the larger baseball (the ball used in Japan is slightly smaller), and I'm not sure how his contract works, but if it's possible to let him go figure things out in Omaha for awhile, that might not be a bad thing to do. Yabuta has appeared in seven games, allowing 11 hits and eight earned runs in 7.1 innings pitched, striking out four, but walking seven and compiling a 9.82 ERA.

--Jimmy Gobble needs to solely remain a lefty specialist out of the bullpen. He is most effective in that role, and performances like tonight's -- allowing three hits, three earned runs, walking two, and striking out two in two-thirds of an inning -- are commonplace when he is asked to face more than just a left-handed batter or two. He had good numbers last year for one reason, and that's because he was primarily expected to come in and retire lefties.

I'm hoping this five-game losing streak can be halted soon, before the Royals once again find themselved buried in the standings at the end of April. Such a promising start to the season has quickly become another frustrating first month of the season.

I am fairly patient, and tend to maintain a positive outlook, for the most part. I've read people's comments on some of the Royals message boards, and there are already people wondering if this season is over. There's even a poll which asks whether the Royals will get back to .500 this season. Even with tonight's horrid performance, that seems a little absurd, given that Kansas City is just two games below .500 at this point.

The ball will be in Brett Tomko's hands Wednesday night. Maybe one of these days the offense will bust out and score more than six runs to give the pitchers a little breathing room. I don't know if my heart can stand too many more 15-1 embarrassments.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blue Review: Week Three

Overall Record: 9-10 (Tie 2nd in A.L. Central)
Record in Week Two: 2-5 (1-1 at SEA, 1-1 at LAA, 0-3 at OAK)
Home: 0-0
Away: 2-5
Current Streak: Lost 4
Upcoming Games: vs. CLE (3), vs. TOR (3)

60-60-42: It was an ugly week of baseball for the Royals. A 2-5 West Coast road trip, that ended with a three-game sweep at Oakland, to drop Kansas City under .500 for the first time this season. Yuck. But my brother, Matt -- the Cardinals fan -- made me feel better by sharing a theory about Major League Baseball that he heard from a friend. This idea has probably been widely discussed, but it made me feel a little better about the bad week for the Royals. He said that, basically, every MLB team wins 60 games, and loses 60 games during the course of a season, and it's those other 42 games that determine how successful a season is. So, if you think about it that way, Kansas City's 9-10 mark at this early stage of the season doesn't seem bad at all. Sure, it would have been nice to have won two of three games in Oakland and headed into this week at 11-8, but it wasn't meant to be. I just hope the games last week weren't part of the "other 42."

Invisible Offense: During the seven-game road trip through Seattle, Los Angeles and Oakland last week, Kansas City's offense combined for just 25 runs (3.57 RPG) and struck out 45 times, while drawing just 19 walks. The team's OBP was just .319, and once they reached base, the Royals were just 3-for-8 in stolen base attempts.

Pitching Falters: Kansas City got off to a great start this season due, in large part, because of solid numbers from its pitchers. Through the first 12 games of the season, Kansas City owned a team ERA of 2.58, had held opponents to a .234 batting average, and allowed just 92 hits and 32 runs (31 earned runs) in 108 innings pitched, while striking out 78 and walking 31. But in the seven games last week, the Royals had a team ERA of 6.83, with opponents hitting .315, and they allowed 76 hits and 45 runs (44 earned runs) in 58 innings, striking out 46 and walking 27.

Guillen Showing Signs of Life: Jose Guillen, who was signed as a free agent during the offseason to help bolster the Royals' offense, headed into last week with a meager averages of .122/.157/.163 and just two doubles through the first 12 games. But the trip through three cities he used to call home seems to have sparked some life into hit bat, as he batted .269/.296/.577 with five doubles and his first home run in a Kansas City uniform last week.

Teahen Struggling: Left fielder Mark Teahen got off to a great start to the season, batting .343/.452/.571 with four runs scored, three doubles, one triple, one home run, three runs batted in, seven walks, and six strikeouts through the first 10 games. But over the past nine games, Teahen has batted just .200/.282/.229 with two runs scored, one double, four walks, and eight strikeouts.
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