It wasn't a great week for the Kansas City Royals, but it was an improvement over the week prior. They beat a team that I believe they are better than (Chicago) and lost to a team I know they are worse than (Detroit). So all in all, it was about what I would expect from this team. Alex Gordon not making it into the All-Star game is certainly a disappointment because he was a very deserving candidate. There were some indications this week of the trade market starting to get hot and it will dominate Royals discussion for the next month or so as they look to unload a number of players and hopefully bolster their Minor League system.
2 Indians -0.5
3 White Sox -5.0
4 Twins -6.5
5 Royals -11.5
Game 85: Royals 4 @ White Sox 5
Add this one to the embarrassing loss file. Newly minted All-Star Aaron Crow loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game and balks in the winning run. Yep. He balked it in. Jeff Francis continued to boost his trade value as he put together six innings of decent pitching. Meanwhile Eric Hosmer continued to be one of the biggest reasons to continue watching the Royals as he went 2-for-4 with a home run.
Game 86: Royals 5 @ White Sox 3
If there has been a bright spot in the Royals starting rotation, it's unquestionably Felipe Paulino. On this night, he struck out 9 in six innings while walking only three. It proved enough as the Royals scored five of their own and the bullpen was back to their old stingy ways. Melky Cabrera went 2-for-4 and has to be getting looks from contenders around the league. Alcides Escobar is proving his bat isn't a fluke as he went 2-for-4 with a triple.
Game 87: Royals 4 @ White Sox 1
Apparently the Royals should play more teams from Chicago. The last series before this one that the Royals won was against the Chicago Cubs. Starter Bruce Chen had a very solid outing as the veteran continues to impress. Eric Hosmer continued his hot hitting as he again went 2-for-4 with a home run. Alex Gordon has been the best left-fielder in the American League, but he was denied a spot on the roster. On this night he proved the doubters wrong by going 2-for-4.
Game 88: Tigers 3 @ Royals 1
The Tigers are a very good team that has a very good pitching rotation. Former Mizzou pitcher Max Scherzer proved that as he held the Royals to a single run in 6.2 innings. Royals starter Danny Duffy did his best to keep the Royals in the game as he put together one of his best starts to date. He struck out 6 and walked only 1 in 6 innings of work. Mike Moustakas continued his offensive struggles as he went 0-for-4 and lowered his OBP to .309 on the season.
Game 89: Tigers 6 @ Royals 4
Kyle Davies allowed 5 earned runs in 6 innings and still lowered his ERA. It's been that kind of season for the much maligned starting pitcher. It was an early deficit that the Royals could never overcome even though the bullpen allowed only 1 more run the rest of the game. Melky Cabrera and Alex Gordon combined for 6 hits and 2 stolen bases, but beyond them the offense was held in check by Tigers starter Rick Porcello.
Game 90: Tigers 6 @ Royals 13
The Royals needed this game in a bad way. They needed to just blow a team out of the water, but for some reason the Tigers seemed to be just on the cusp of taking back the lead. Starter Luke Hochevar did what he does quite often: start a game strong and give up a bunch of runs in a single inning. This time it was 4 runs in the 4th inning, and he was pulled. However the Royals were on a hit parade and they showed why they have a pretty decent offense. Alex Gordon smashed a home run and Billy Butler busted out of a slump by going 3-for-5.
Game 91: Tigers 2 @ Royals 1
Justin Verlander is really good. In fact he might be the best pitcher in the American League. If anyone wanted evidence, just look at what he did on Sunday vs the Royals. He went 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 9 K, 0 BB, 6 H. There's no shame in being shut down by one of the best in the game. On the hill for the Royals, Jeff Francis did his best to duel with Verlander by going 6.0 IP, 4 h, 2 ER, 1 BB and 6 K. The oddest part of the game was Eric Hosmer getting caught stealing 3rd base with one out in the 9th inning.
Position player of the week: Melky Cabrera
The Melk man is getting hot at exactly the right time. His trade value is likely getting to it's peak and teams are starting to make a push for the playoffs. Other than Jeff Francis or a bullpen arm, he's the most valuable commodity the Royals are looking to part with. This week he hit .414/.452/..517 and played a passable CF defense.
Starting pitcher of the week: Danny Duffy
Duffy put together one of his best performances as a Royal as he struck out 6, walked 1 and got through 6 innings. He was demoted to AAA, but only to keep him on schedule during the All-Star break. He's really starting to find his groove and is a lock (barring injury) to be in the 2012 starting rotation.
Relief pitcher of the week: Luis Coleman
Luis Coleman is the best relief pitcher the Royals have right now. Even better than Aaron Crow the All-Star. This week he threw 5 scoreless innings and allowed only 4 baserunners while striking out 6.
On the farm
Johnny Giavotella is just crushing the ball in Omaha (AAA). In his last 10 games he's hitting .333/.395/.500 with a home run and 3 doubles. The Royals know what he is doing down there and they are likely looking to shop Chris Getz at the deadline to make a spot for Gio.
Lorenzo Cain is another guy who is chomping at the bit for the Royals to make a trade. As soon as Melky is dealt, he will be called up because he has little left to prove at AAA. In his last 10 games, he's hit.444/..512/.750 with 3 HR and 2 doubles. He also has a much better glove than Cabrera does in center field.
It seems as if the small break that Mike Montgomery got in Omaha has paid off. In his last two starts, he's given up just 1 earned run in 11.2 innings pitched. More impressive than that, he's struck out 12 and only walked 3. Hopefully this is the start of something good for the young lefty.
Jake Odorizzi has made a smooth transition to AA. In his first start, he went 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs. He was dominating high-A and looks to take the next step up the ladder.
Cheslor Cuthbert continues to impress at Kane County.He's one of the youngest players in the league and he's hitting .324/.369/.497 with 6 home runs. He also has a very good glove at third. He could be a very special player for the Royals if he continues to adjust to each new level he's faced with.
The week to come
The All-Star break starts today, so there is a light schedule of Royals games this week. After this week, we can say that the next ASG will be in Kansas City. Exciting, right? The Royals begin the second half of the season on the road at Minnesota where they can make up some ground on 4th place and try and avoid another last-place finish.
7/11 - Home Run Derby
7/12 - All-Star Game
7/14-7/17 @ Twins
Last week’s road trip for the Kansas City Royals wasn’t exactly perfect, however it was significantly better than their last foray in the field. They started off nicely by taking a series in the Bronx, which they haven’t done since 1999. However they faltered once they took their talents to Detroit to face the Tigers. This latest road trip seemed to be the mirror image of the last one in that the starting rotation showed up and the bats were relatively quiet.
2 Tigers -3.5
3 Royals -5.0
4 White Sox -9.0
5 Twins -12.5
Game 35: Royals 1 @ Yankees 3 – boxscore
Royals starting pitcher Kyle Davies gave up three runs in five innings pitched against the New York Yankees on seven hits, however he continued to limit the free-passes by only walking one. The three runs were all the Yankees needed as the Royals scored only one run on a Melky Cabrera solo home run in his first game against his former team.
Game 36: Royals 4 @ Yankees 3 – boxscore
The Yankees took an early lead by putting up a pair of runs on starter Vin Mazzaro who was making his debut in a Royals uniform. The Royals battled back with two runs of their own, one of which came on Eric Hosmer’s first Major League home run. With the game knotted at two, they went to extra innings. The Royals struck first by scoring in the top of the tenth, but closer Joakim Soria couldn’t convert in the bottom of the tenth and surrendered a run. In the top of the eleventh, the Royals took another lead on an Eric Hosmer sacrifice fly. Louis Coleman came in and held the Yankees scoreless for the win.
Game 37: Royals 11 @ Yankees 5 – boxscore
In the series finale, there wasn’t near as much drama but it was just as fun. The Royals scored early and often by putting up six runs in a parade of hits in the second inning. Eric Hosmer hit his second career home run and Melky Cabrera hit his second of the series. Royals starter Sean O’Sullivan didn’t have to be perfect, and he wasn’t as he gave up four earned runs and again struck out no batters. The Yankees scored a few more, but were never really in the game and the Royals won their first series in the Bronx since 1999.
Game 38: Royals 1 @ Tigers 3 – boxscore
The Detroit Tigers have one of the best starting rotations in the American League and it was on display in this series. Tigers starter Justin Verlander held the Royals hitless through five innings. However in the sixth the Royals busted through with a run scoring triple from Melky Cabrera. Unfortunately, it was the only run they would score. Royals starter Luke Hochevar put together another quality start as he held the Tigers potent offense to three runs in six innings.
Game 48: Royals 0 @ Tigers 3 – boxscore
Royals starter Jeff Francis got off to a wobbly start as he surrendered three runs in the first inning, however he found his groove and gave up no more runs and pitched a complete game. The Royals offense was again stifled by a Tigers starter, only this time it was Brad Penny. They will have to settle for an 0-2 series as the finale was postponed due to rain.
Position player of the week: Melky Cabrera
It was a prettly light week in terms of offensive performances, but Cabrera hit .200/.333/.650 with two home runs, four walks, a double and a triple. He must have found that little something extra to show his old team that he is still worth something.
Starting pitcher of the week: Jeff Francis
Francis pitched more innings than any other starter this week and struck out more batters as well. He got touched up for a few runs in his first inning, but then cruised to a complete game.
Relief pitcher of the week: Louis Coleman
The bullpen continues to dominate the opposition and Louis Coleman was no exception. He threw 2.2 innings, struck out four and didn't allow a hit or a walk. He also earned a save in extra innings in New York. Not bad for a rookie.
On the farm:
Lorenzo Cain (CF) hit for the cycle and had a grand slam on Saturday for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA). He's now hitting .296/.377/.481 on the season.
Mike Moustakas (3B) hit two home runs last week and has a season line of .262/.340/.477 to go with seven home runs for the Storm Chasers.
Wil Myers (OF) re-aggravated his bruised left knee on Thursday and was held out for the rest of the weekend series for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA).
Starting pitcher John Lamb had a really nice outing this week as he went six innings while giving up one earned run and striking out four for the Naturals.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks' Whit Merrifield (OF) has been on fire as of late. He's hitting .349/.391/.442 in his last ten games.
Stat of the week:
Last week, the Royals bullpen threw 14.1 innings last week and gave up only one earned run.
The week to come:
Things don't get much easier for the Royals as they start a long home stand. They play the Indians, Rangers and Cardinals this week without any off-days. They will need to continue their torrid pace at home to keep up with the division leading Indians and suddenly surging Detroit Tigers.
5/17-5/18 vs Cleveland Indians
5/19-5/20 vs Texas Rangers
5/21-5/23 vs St. Louis Cardinals
The Kansas City Royals essentially held serve last week. They went 3-3 overall against two non-divisional opponents. They didn’t make up any ground in the American League Central race, however they didn’t lose any either as they remain 4.5 games behind division leading Cleveland. The story of the week was the promotion of top-prospect Eric Hosmer and the demotion of Kila Ka’aihue.
2 Royals -4.5
3 Tigers -6.0
4 Twins -9.5
5 White Sox -10.0
Game 29: Orioles 5 @ Royals 6 – boxscore
Starting pitcher Jeff Francis struggled again, giving up 5 earned runs in 5.2 innings. Fortunately the bullpen did what they do and held the Orioles scoreless for the remainder of the game. Jeff Francoeur continued to hit the ball well as he hit a solo home run to tie the game in the sixth inning. He also hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the tenth to score the winning run.
Game 30: Orioles 3 @ Royals 2 – boxscore
Kyle Davies threw his third Quality Start in his last four games as he held the Orioles to three runs in 6.1 innings. It was the extent of the runs the Royals would give up, but it was one too many as the Royals could only plate two runs. One of those runs came on a Jeff Francoeur home run and the other on a Melky Cabrera ground out.
Game 31: Orioles 1 @ Royals 9 – boxscore
The Royals took hold of the game in the first inning by scoring four runs on Orioles starter Chris Tillman. They continued to pile on as they eventually scored nine runs. It was more than enough as starter Bruce Chen continued to pitch extremely well and gave up one earned run in seven innings. Melky Cabrera was the offensive star of the game by going three-for-four with a home run.
Game 32: Athletics 3 @ Royals 2 – boxscore
The Royals took an early lead on an Alex Gordon home run and an RBI triple by Mike Aviles. Starter Sean O’Sullivan went 8 innings and gave up 3 earned runs. It sounds like a recipe for a win, but on this day it wasn’t. The Royals couldn’t put more than the two runs across the board and dropped the first game in the series with the Athletics.
Game 33: Athletics 3 @ Royals 4 – boxscore
Royals starter Luke Hochevar put together his best start of the season by going 7 innings and giving up only on earned run. Reliever Aaron Crow finally showed he was human by giving up his first runs of the season when he surrendered a 3 run home run to Cliff Pennington in the eighth inning. The game was tied going into the bottom of the ninth and a now familiar set of events transpired. Butler single, Dyson pinch run, Francoeur single moves Dyson to third, and then a sac fly by Aviles wins it.
Game 44: Athletics 5 @ Royals 2 – boxscore
Jeff Francis hasn’t pitched well lately, and in this game he wasn’t great but he kept the Royals in the game. Again, the lack of offense was the undoing of the team on this day. Eric Hosmer had his first multi-hit game of his career by going 2-for-4 with a double. The team as a whole only had six hits as the team could only muster two runs
Position player of the week: Jeff Francoeur
Jeff Francoeur hit .273/.320/.591/ last week and collected two home runs. He also seemed to always be in the middle of whatever was going on offensively for the Royals. So far, the off-season acquisition has been a gigantic help to the team. Whether or not he can continue to hit well is the million dollar question.
Starting pitcher of the week: Luke Hochevar
It easily could have been Bruce Chen for this week as well, but Hochevar gave allowed only four base runners in his seven inning stint. Both pitchers are worthy of recognition this week and they will have to continue to pitch well if the Royals have thoughts of staying in contention.
Relief pitcher of the week: Joakim Soria
After some wobbles early in the season, it seems that closer Joakim Soria is back to his old self. He only pitched two innings last week, but he struck out four, walked none and allowed only one hit.
On the farm:
In his last ten games Lorenzo Cain (OF) has hit .395/.489/.553 for the Omaha Storm Chaser s (AAA). Mike Moustakas (3B) has 12 hits and 11 RBI in his last ten games for Omaha. He’s now hitting .250/.333/.420 on the season with five homeruns.
Danny Duffy (SP) has struck out 41 batters and walked only 7 in his six starts this season for Omaha. In his last ten games, Christian Colon (SS) has hit .333/.381/.385 with three stolen bases for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
Whit Merrifield (OF) is now hitting .311/.390/.406 with six stolen bases on the season for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (A+).
Jake Odorizzi (SP) has walked only five guys in 26 innings while striking out 38 and posting a 2.42 ERA for Wilmington.
The young Cuban defector Noel Arguelles (SP) has 19 strikeouts and one walk in five games started for Wilmington.
Gerard Hall (SS) has hit .333/.400/.487 in his last ten games for the Kane County Cougars (A-).
Stat of the week:
The Royals lead all of baseball with 15 wins at home.
The week to come:
The Royals embark on a difficult road trip this week. They begin with a three game set in Yankee Stadium against the American League East leading Yankees. After that they visit divisional rival Detroit for three games. In order to keep in contention, the Royals will have to take some of their home success and replicate it on the road. It’s too early to say that this week is make-or-break, but it’s going to be extremely important nonetheless.
5/10 - 5/12 @ New York Yankees
5/13 - 5/15 @ Detroit Tigers