For the third straight week, the Kansas City Royals won at least haif the games they played. It's a nice stretch that has included some very tough teams. Last week began with the Royals proving they were better than the Baltimore Orioles and ended with them showing that they are not too far from the Detroit Tigers. It was a great week of games and included some a couple of Major League debuts. I know that many casual fans have drifted towards the upcoming football season, but good things are happening for baseball fans in Kansas City.
2 Indians -4.0
3 White Sox -5.5
4 Twins -10.0
5 Royals -12.0
Game 109: Orioles 8 @ Royals 2
Royals starter Bruce Chen was pushed out of the game early as he hit 115 pitches before the completion of the 5th inning. He combined with Louis Coleman to allow 4 runs in 8 innings, but Everett Teaford allowed 4 of his own in the 9th. Most of the runs were superfluous as the Royals offence could only muster 2 runs. Melky Cabrer and Eric Hosmer each had a pair of hits and both of Hosmer's went for extra-bases. Still, the Royals weren't able to figure out O's starter Alfredo Simon and took the loss.
Game 110: Orioles 2 @ Royals 6
Luke Hochevar is showing more and more why the Royals picked him at the top of the draft. He put together a masterful performance to shut down the Orioles in this game as he went 7 innings and struck out 7 while allowing 4 hits and 1 walk. It's the kind of outing you need from a top of the rotation starter. He was backed up by Greg Holland, who did what he does. - strike everyone out and not allow baserunners. The offense did their job as Butler hit his 13th home run, Escobar his 5th triple and Gordon his 32nd and 33rd doubles. Rookie catcher Manny Pina made his debut as he also collected a pair of hits.
Game 111 Orioles 4 @ Royals 9
This game was a hitfest as the teams combined for 30 hits. The Royals collected 17 of that 30 thanks to a 4 hit night for Alex Gordon and a 3 hit night for Jeff Francoeur. More importantly, the Royals plated 9 runs to their opponents 4 to take the series. Jeff Francis had a rough night as he allowed 4 runs in 5 innings. However, he was picked up by the reliable bullpen which allowed 0 runs in their 4 innings of work.
Game 112: Tigers 4 @ Royals 3
The Royals were baffled by Tigers starter Rick Porcello through 6 innings, however they found something in the 7th as they plated 3 runs to tie the game. The scoring began with a 2 run single from Johnny Giavotalla, who was making his Major League debut. Royals starter Felipe Paulino got over a shaky start and allowed only 3 runs as well. The game was knotted going into extra-innings. Unfortunately, the Tigers scratched a run across on reliever Aaron Crow and the Royals were shut down in the bottom of the 10th.
Game 113: Tigers 4 @ Royals 3
It was a tall order for Royals rookie starter Danny Duffy. He had to face a potent Tigers offense and try and beat their ace pitcher Justin Verlander. While he didn't succeed in either of those endeavors, he does seem to be improving and becoming more comfortable in his role. He gave up 3 runs in 5 innings, but the Royals were still in the game when he departed. The offense came up pretty empty against Verlander as Jeff Francoeur was the only player to have a multi-hit night. They did make the best out of their 5 hits by scoring 3 runs, but it came up just short.
Game 114: Tigers 3 @ Royals 4
Bruce Chen book-ended the week on the mound and made up for a poor start by finishing strong. He held the Tigers to 3 runs in 5 innings while striking out 5 and walking none. The fireworks, however were on offnense as rookie Johnny Giavotella had a monster day with a home run and a double off of Tigers starter Max Scherzer.Outfielders Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur did their part on defense as they each picked up another outfield assist.
Position player of the week: Johnny Giavotella
Yes, he only played in 3 games, but he made a significant impace. Plus he gets bonus points for having his Major League debut and for booting Chris Getz from the lineup. In his 3 games, he had a home run, a walk, a stolen base and 2 doubles. The kid can rake, the question remains whether his defense can hold it's own at this level. If he can continue to hit well, it won't matter.
Starting pitcher of the week: Luke Hochevar
Back to back fantastic weeks for Luke Hochevar, how long has it been since we've seen that? He's showing signs that he has figured a thing or two out in terms of dealing with runners. If he can work out that kink, he'll be worthy of a high draft pick and hold down a solid spot in the rotation for years to come. This week, he struck out 7 and allowed 1 earned run in 7 innings of work.
Relief pitcher of the week: Greg Holland
Holland is the Royal reliever with the lowest walk rate, highest strikout rate and lowest hit rate on the team. He leads the team in ERA and averages over 11 strikeouts per 9 innings. He gets over-looked due to Soria's long-term succes and Aaron Crow's draft status and All-Star appearance, but he's the best reliever on the team right now. Last week, he threw 5.0 innings and struck out 5 while walking only 1.
The week to come
The Royals hit the road this week as they visit Tampa Bay and Chicago to face the White Sox. They'll need to win some games this week, because it gets very difficult the following week as they face New York and Boston.
8/8-8/11 @ Tampa Bay 8/12-8/14 @ Chicago
Going on the road and facign the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians was no easy task for the Kansas City Royals, though they came away with a more than acceptable 4-3 record last week. The record on the field was over-shadowed by the moves the Royals did and did not make at the trade deadline. They did move Wilson Betemit and Mike Aviles but chose to hang onto Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera. The organization has not had a lot of love for Aviles, so it was obvious he would be moved. Keeping Cabrera and Francouer seems to be a bit of clinging to some hope that Cabrera will repeat a career year (not often the case) and that Francoeur will...well honestly I don't know why they kept Francoeur. Regardless it was a pretty good week to be a Royals fan.
2 Indians -2.5
3 White Sox -4.0
4 Twins -7.0
5 Royals -11.0
Game 102: Royals 3 @ Red Sox 1
The Royals took the first game in Boston in a pitchers duel featuring Kyle Davies and Jon Lester. Yep, you read that right. 2011 Kyle Davies continued to do what he's done this season: strike out more guys and walk fewer. However he didn't give up the runs he's been giving up. He's been on a decent run lately and maybe he actually wil turn into a decent pitcher. Now former Royal Mike Aviles put down the best-worst bunt possible and put the Royals in a position to win the game It wasn't a typical Royals game, but it was a victory and one worth staying up late to watch.
Game 103: Royals 9 @ Red Sox 13
Game 2 of the Boston Series was quite the opposite of game 1. Runs were plentiful for both teams as both starters managed 3.2 innings for their respective teams. Duffy struck out 5 in his 3.2 innings, but allowed 6 earned runs. Reliever Nate Adcock one-upped him by allowing 3 earned runs and getting just one out. In fact the only Royals relief pitcher who didn't allow a run was outfielder Mitch Maier. It was that kind of game. The Royals bats tried to keep pace with the 13 runs Boston scored, but could only muster 9. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon hit back-to-back homers and Mike Aviles went 3-for-5, but it was all for naught.
Game 104: Royals 5 @ Red Sox 12
With the bullpen depleted, the one thing Bruce Chen HAD to do was go deep into the game. Unfortunately, he could only muster 4 innings while giving up 10 earned runs. Nate Adcock was summoned to finish the ball game and did a fine job with the final 4 innings. The game was never withing the Royals grasp, however Butler and Hosme both homered to give something for the fans back home to cheer about.
Game 105: Royals 4 @ Red Sox 3
Luke Hochevar put together a very solid start in route to helping the Royals split the series with the Red Sox. He went 7 innings, struck out 6, walked 1 and allowed only 2 earned runs. The offense was bouyed by the bottom of the lineup and another Billy Butler home run. A four-run 4th inning was all the scoring needed to split the series and leave Boston with a very satisfactory grin.
Game 106: Royals 12 @ Indians 0
The Royals might have a chip on their shoulder in regards to the Indians. It's hard to look across the dugout and see a team that seems to be just as talented, yet fighting for a Division title. On this night at least, the Royals put the Indians in their place. A Melky Cabrera grand-slam represented a mere third of the Royals scoring output in route to a 12-0 beat down. Jeff Francis had one of his best outings to date as he went 8 inings and struck out 6. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon both added homeruns of their own and Alcides Escobar went 3-for-4.
Game 107: Royals 2 @ Indians 5
It's rare for this years Royals rotation to put together three straight solid outings, but that's what happened as Felipe Paulino went 6 innings and allowed 0 earned runs. Unfortunately, the bullpen wasn't as steady and allwed the Indians to score 4 runs and win in walk-off fashion. All 4 runs were on the shoulders of closer Joakim Soria. Catcher Matt Treanor left the game with a concussion when he tagged out Matt LaPorta at the plate. It was a gut-wrenching loss to a plucky division rival.
Game 108: Royals 5 @ Indians 3
Rookie Danny Duffy bounced back from a terrible outing in Boston and held the Indians in check for 5 innings as he allowed only 2 earned runs and struck out 6. It was enough as the Royals offense scored 5 runs on the Indians sfaff. Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur both hit their 14th home runs and Melky Cabrera collected a pair of hits. The Royals bullpen came into the game and picked up were Duffy left off and allowed a single run for the rest of the game as the Royals took the series from Cleveland.
Position player of the week: Billy Butler
In the last 7 days, Billy Butler has hit 5 home runs, collected 12 RBI and hit an additional 2 doubles. That's good for an OPS of 1.349 this week. He's been on an absolute tear this week and is a huge reason the Royals were able to have a winning road trip.
Starting pitcher of the week: Jeff Francis
It's shocking that he's still a part of the Royals after the non-waiver trade deadline. He would make a solid contributor for a contending team and still might get moved through the waive trade system. Last week he pitched a great 8 inning 6 strikeout, 0 earned run affair to earn the nod this week.
Relief pitcher of the week: Mitch Maier
Hey, you gotta give it to the outfielder who pitched a scoreless inning in Fenway right? He may never get a chance to win this prestigious award again. I've always been a huge Maier fan and getting to see him pitch was pretty sweet. I would love to see him be a part of a winning Royals franchisce, but with the non-trades of Cabrera and Francouer, I don't see it happening.
The week to come
The trades may not be over as players can still be moved through the waiver system. I'd be surprised if the Royals don't make at least one more move. Also, getting Cain and Giavotella into the clubhouse is something the Royals have to figure out. Both are dominating in AAA and deserve a shot to prove they can do it at the highest level. The Roayls get to come home and take on the Orioles and the division leading Tigers.
8/2-8/4 vs Orioles
8/5-8/7 vs Tigers