We've been waiting for a nice week of Royals baseball for a month and we finally got it. They went 4-2 against a pair of decent teams in the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. They even seemed to show a bit of that early season Royals magic as they won two of them in walk-off fashion in extra-innings. What's even more shocking is the fact that people continue to flock to Kauffman stadium to see a losing baseball team in sweltering heat. If this team starts winning then Royals tickets will be difficult to get.
2 Indians -2.0
3 White Sox -4.5
4 Twins -7.0
5 Royals -12.0
Game 96: White Sox 5 @ Royals 2
Maligned starter Kyle Davies actually had a decent outing. He struck out 9, walked only 3 and allowed 2 earned runs in 5.1 innings. It's not enough for him to earn back many fans, but if you look at the numbers 2011 Davies is a different pitcher than he's been in his career. He's walking fewer and striking out more. What's odd is that the results aren't improving. Royal nemesis Mark Buehrle held the offense in check though Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler both had a pair of hits in the loss.
Game 97: White Sox 2 @ Royals 4
Danny Duffy has started to come into his own over his last few starts. He's finally showing at the Big League level why he was such a highly ranked prospect. On this night, he had the White Sox on their heels as he completed 7 innings, struck out 6 and allowed only 2 runs. The offense also helped him out by as Melky Cabrera hit his 12th home run and Eric Hosmer had a pair of hits. That's a lot of youth making big time contributions, something that's unusual for us Royals fans.
Game 98: White Sox 1 @ Royals 2
The White Sox recently beat the Royals with a walk-off balk and those kinds of losses stick in your craw. They Royals had felt they owed the Sox one and they got their justice on this night. In the 11th inning, Alex Gordon took off from third and scored the winning run on a wild pitch. Making White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen go bananas was just icing on the cake. To be in a position to win the game, thanks goes to starter Bruce Chen who tossed a gem of a game. He allowed a single run in 8 innings of work and allowed bullpen studs Joakim Soria and Aaron Crow to pitch important innings.
Game 99: Rays 4 @ Royals 10
In the grand-scheme, the Royals would like to be a lot more like the Rays. However on this night it was the Rays who were the envious ones. The Royals scored 3 runs in the 1st inning and continued to pile them on until they reached double digits.Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur both had three hit nights and Billy Butler hit his 7th home run of the season. All of that scoring was more than enough for starter Luke Hochevar, although he hit his pitch-count limit early and completed only 5.1 innings. As has been the case, the bullpen came in the game and shut their opponents down and the Royals won easily.
Game 100: Rays 4 @ Royals 5
Another game where the Royals needed extra frames to win in dramatic fashion. It's enough to make us all remember the early season excitement if we can ignore the teams record for a moment. The player who had to get the most enjoyment out of the evening had to be Mike Moustakas. He's been struggling mightily as he tries to adjust to the MLB pitching. On this night, he seemed quite comfortable as he had 2 hits and 3 RBI. The late inning hero was his good friend Eric Hosmer who hit a walk-off double to score Mike Aviles in the bottom of the 10th inning. With the win, the Royals tied their longest winning streak of the season (4) and won back-to-back series.
Game 101: Rays 5 @ Royals 0
The week started and ended on low notes, but everything in between was pretty good. Rays starter Alex Cobb baffled the Royals as he held them scoreless through 7 innings. Chris Getz was the only Royal hitter to have a multi-hit game as the Royals were shut out. Felipe Paulino had a typical start as he struck out a bunch of guys and allowed a bunch of hits, but it's impossible to win if the offense can't score.
Position player of the week: Eric Hosmer
The young rookie had an amazing week as he hit .417/.481/.500 and even had a walk-off double. He even had 3 walks and a stolen base. He's making a strong case to be the American League Jackie Robinson Award winner.
Starting pitcher of the week: Bruce Chen
I still don't have any idea how he does it, but Bruce Chen just gets guys out. He went deeper into the game, allwed fewer baserunners and fewer runs than any of the other Royals starters this week. What happens to him after this season is a mystery, but for now he's quite productive.
Relief pitcher of the week: Greg Holland
Holland struck out 7 batters in 4 innings last week. He also allowed only 2 base runners and 1 run. He is completely locked in right now and is probably the most reliable relief pitcher available.
The week to come
Things wont get easier this week as the Royals travel to Boston and Cleveland to try and keep some of their winning mojo going.
7/25-7/28 @ Boston
7/29-7/31 @ Cleveland
On the bright side, the Kansas City Royals won twice as many games last week as they did in the week prior. On the not-so-bright side, that means they only won two games in the last seven days. The one thing this team had been doing well this season was playing at home. The series against the Angels continued that trend, however losing four straight to the Twins was enough to dash the hopes of even the most optimistic fans. With the team falling so far out of contention, the beginning of the MLB Draft couldn’t be better timed. The first round begins tonight at 6:00 p.m. and fans around the league can begin to look to the future, again.
2 Tigers -2.5
3 White Sox -7.0
4 Royals -9.0
5 Twins -12.5
Game 53: Angels 10 @ Royals 8 - boxscore
The Royals were finally back at home where they've had some success this season. Early on, things seemed to be going their way as they took a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the 2nd thanks to homeruns by Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer. Starter Luke Hochever wasn't great but he was adequate holding the Angels to 4 runs in 5 innings. However the Angels chipped away until they were down only 1 run going into the top of the 9th. Fans everywhere covered their eyes as the Royals again summoned Joakim Soria. What would have been nearly unimaginable last year was suddenly unsurprising as Joakim Soria handed the Angles 3 runs and earned his 5th blown save, the 2nd in as many days. After the game Ned Yost announced that Joakim Soria was no longer the closer and that Aaron Crow would get the nod most often.
Game 54: Angels 3 @ Royals 7 -boxscore
It's becoming clear that when starter Jeff Francis struggles in the 1st inning, it doesn't mean he is going to strugle for the entire game. This time, he surrendered 2 runs in the 1st frame, but it was all he would give up until the Angels scored one more run in the 6th. It was plenty of pitching for the Royals who scored 5 runs in the 3rd inning on a hit-parade where 5 different Royals had RBI hits.
Game 55: Angels 0 @ Royals 2 - boxscore
When Felipe Paulino was purchased from the Colorado Rockies, he had a 7.36 ERA. In his second appearance with the Royals he was placed in the starting rotation and threw 5 innings of scoreless baseball. It was exactly the kind of start the Royals were dying for and they took advantage, barely. Billy Butler's two-run walk-off home run represented the entirety of the Royals offensive output.
Game 56: Twins 8 @ Royals 2 - boxscore
Sean O'Sullivan continued to be ineffective as he could only get through 2.2 innings while surrendering 8 hits, 7 runs and striking out only 1. He would be placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day. It was a deficit the offensively struggling Royals could not overcome. Jeff Francoeur was the lone bright spot, going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI in the loss. Joakim Soria got his first taste of non-closing action as he pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th.
Game 57: Twins 5 @ Royals 2 - boxscore
Rookie starter Danny Duffy has improved each and every start he as made, however his biggest issue has been getting deep into games. This was no exception as he completed 5 innings and had to leave with 96 pitches under his belt. He allowed 7 hits and 3 earned runs while walking 3 and striking out 3. It wasn't a great start, but one to build on for the youngster. The story again was the struggling offense. Butler had 3 hits and Hosmer had a pair, but neither had an RBI.
Game 58: Twins 7 @ Royals 2 - boxscore
Luke Hochevar started well, as he threw 5 innings and gave up 1 run. However, in the 6th and 7th the Twins plated 5 while he was on the mound. The top of the Royals order did their jobs as they got on base 7 times in 15 plate appearances. They just couldn't string hits together and get runners across. It was the third game in a row where the Royals put up 2 runs against the Twins, and the third game in a row where it wasn't enough.
Game 59: Twins 6 @ Royals 0 - boxscore
In an ugly end to an ugly series, the Royals went down without scoring a single run in the finale. Starter Jeff Francis had his typical struggles in the 1st, but settled in as he is wont to do. Billy Butler continued is torrid hitting streak by going 3-for-3. That's about where the positives end. It was a four-game sweep by the worst team in baseball, there's no sugar-coating that.
Position player of the week: Billy Butler
He's the best hitter on the team and his last week is more proof of that fact. He hit .400/.483/.520 with a walk-off home run last week.
Starting pitcher of the week: Jeff Francis
There wasn't much to be excited about in the starting pitching front, but Jeff Francis continues to deliver. He had a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings of work last week. He struck out only 3 while walking 4, but he's been successful. He should be getting lots of notice in trade talks which are the inevitable result of the way the Royals have been playing recently.
Relief pitcher of the week: Greg Holland
It could have been Blake Wood, but Holland gets the nod as he has yet to give up a run. He threw 3.2 innings last week and struck out an eye-popping 7. He's just another guy in a stacked bullpen that seems to rarely get the lead as of late.
On the farm:
The Royals announced last week that John Lamb (LHP) would undergo Tommy John surgery. It's a big setback for the team and for the young starter. It's unfortunate, but the list of pitchers who've come back from that surgery is long. He's a great kid and I'm personally rooting for a great comeback.
In his last 10 games, Mike Moustakas (3B) has hit .378/.370/.600 with 2 homeruns for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
Starter Mike Montgomery (LHP) continues to struggle with command as he has given up 15 runs in his last 3 games combined. He has a 5.23 ERA in 63.2 IP for Omaha this season.
Wil Myers (OF) played yesterday in his first game back since an injury that put him on the shelf in early May. He didn't seem to miss a beat as he went 2 for 4 with a double for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA).
Jake Odorizzi (RHP) continued his dominance of the Carolina League (A+) as he now has 74 strikeouts to 14 walks in 52.2 innings. In his last outing, he went 6 innings, struck out 8, walked 2 and have up 3 hits and no runs.
The week to come:
The MLB Draft is likely the most important thing happening for the Kansas City Royals this week. The draft is extremely deep and the Royals have the 5th overall pick. The other story of local interest is where Gardner-Edgerton star Bubba Starling will end up. Some have him going to the Royals, but my guess is that it's unlikely. In terms of on-the-field action, the Royals continue their long home-stand against the Blue Jays and then go on the road to face the Angels.
6/6-6/9 vs Blue Jays
6/10-6/12 @ Angels