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Kansas City Royals week in review: 6/20/2011
It seems pre-destined at this point. The Royals would somehow, someway find their way to last place in the American League Central. They actually played pretty well on the road this week, but it didn't translate into wins. They went 2-4 in Oakland and St. Louis and dropped a game below the Minnesota Twins in the standings. It's depressing, sure, but it's not unexpected. This season wasn't about contending, but taking a step forward for the franchise. In that regard, it's been a mixed bag but overall things are going as expected. My advice is to just take a step back, ignore the scores and watch the young players develop.
2 Tigers -1.0
3 White Sox -5.5
4 Twins 8.0
5 Royals -9.0
Game 67: Royals 7 @ Athletics 4
This might be the most illustrative game so far of how the youth on the Royals can impact the games. Starter Danny Duffy went 6 innings while only giving up 2 earned runs. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas both collected a pair of hits, while Alcides Escobar gathered 3 of his own. It's a small example of how the young players all can put together solid outings to help a team win on both sides of the ball. It's something we should expect in the future as the rule rather than the exception.
Game 68: Royals 1 @ Athletics 2
Staring pitching was the name of the game on this night. Luke Hochevar for the Royals and Josh Outman for the Athletics both wen 7 innings. However, Hochevar gave up 2 earned runs while Outman gave up none. Alcides Escobar continued his hot streak going 3 for 3 with a double. It wasn't enough though, as the Royals lost in a pitchers duel.
Game 69: Royals 4 @ Athletics 8
The Royals hit 5 doubles and stole 3 bases, yet somehow only managed to score 4 runs. On this day, that wasn't nearly enough as Jeff Francis had a disaster of a start, giving up 6 runs in only 3.1 innings. The Royals were never able to climb out of that early hole.
Game 70: Royals 5 @ Cardinals 4
At this point, it's time to ask: "Who are you and what have you done with the real Alcides Escobar?" The weak hitting but slick-fielding shortstop has suddenly become a one-man offensive juggernaut. He went 2-for-4 in the win against the Cardinals. Felipe Paulino got the start, and other than one bad inning he kept the Cardinals offense under wraps giving them their 7th straight loss.
Game 71: Royals 4 @ Cardinals 5
It seemed that the Royals had this game in the bag. They had a one-run lead, but the Cardinals had been scoreless since the 3rd inning. The Royals took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th but with their bullpen it always seems safe. Unfortunately, both Tim Collins and Greg Holland allowed runs and the Cardinals took a lead they would not surrender. Oh, and ho-hum, Alcides Escobar collected two more hits including a triple.
Game 72: Royasl 4 @ Cardinals 5
This game was representative of the entire series in St. Louis. A constant back and forth, resulting in a one-run win that neither fan-base felt comfortable with until the final out. It made for interesting baseball, although this loss put the Royals in last place in the AL Central for the first time this season. Danny Duffy had an odd pitching line as he went 3.2 innings, struck out 9 and walked only 1. He was removed with a pitch-count of 90 and the bullpen was put into action early. Alcides Escobar hit his first home-run as a Royal on his way to another multi-hit game. But even that was not enough as the Royals dropped the finale and ended a rough road trip with a loss.
Position player of the week: Alcides Escobar
An absolute no-brainer of a choice. Escobar hit .545/.583/864 in the last seven days. No, that's not a mis-print. He had a home-run, a triple and two doubles and even stole 4 bases last week. Combined with his defense, he had an M.V.P. type of week. Sure, it's only 7 days in a long season, but what a 7 days.
Starting pitcher of the week: Danny Duffy
He gets a little bit of the nod here for starting two games over just one for Luke Hochevar. However he had one solid outing and one good but weird and short outing. The biggest reason I chose Duffy is the fact that he struck out 11 while Hochevar struck out 0. As we've seen with Sean O'Sullivan, strike outs are vital. The kid also got his first "win" this week. While this blog generally considers that statistic to be meaningless, it is something the kid will always remember and deserves some recognition.
Relief pitcher of the week: Joakim Soria
Joakim Soria pitched 2 innings, but struck out 3, walked one and allowed only one hit. He seems to have re-found some of what he lost earlier in the season. The strikeouts are the most important number for him right now, and he's putting some on the board. What he needs now are more save opportunities to convert.
On the farm
In his last 10 games, Johnny Giavotella (2B) has hit .415/.455/.634 and he's hit 2 home runs for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA). He's inching closer to the point where he's forcing the Royals to promote him.
Lorenzo Cain (CF) has hit .368/.415/.763 with 4 home runs in his last 10 games for the Storm Chasers. He's a Melky Cabrera trade away from being the every-day center fielder at the Major League level.
Wil Myers (OF) has recovered from his knee bruise and is hitting .289/.372/.500 in his last ten games for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA).
Salvador Perez (C) has broken out of a slump and is now 11 for his last 31 with a home run and two doubles for the Naturals.
In his last start, Chris Dwyer (LHP) went 6 innings while striking out 9 and allowing no earned runs for the Naturals.
Jake Odorizzi (RHP) bounced back from a rough start by striking out 11 and allowing no earned runs in 5.2 innings for his last start with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (A+).
The week to come
The Royals will be back at home this week. They have two inter-league series against the Diamondbacks and Cubs, fortunately they will get to use the DH and won't have to choose between Hosmer and Butler.
6/21-6/23 vs Diamondbacks
6/24-6/26 vs Cubs