Now THAT was a nice week to be a Royals fan. Unfortunately, it all flew under the radar since the team is completely out of contention (again), and football season has ramped up and drained some focus. Still, it's a nice week when you put some real distance between the team below you in the standings and make up some on the team in front, even if it is relatively meaningless.
2 Indians -12.5
3 White Sox -14.5
4 Royals -22.5
5 Twins -29.0
Game 149: Twins 0 @ Royals 4
Beating the Twins comes with just a tad bit more enjoyment than a victory over any other team, don't you agree? On this night, the Royals starter Bruce Chen put the kibosh on the Twins offense as held them scoreless in 8 innings with 8 strikeouts. Mike Moustakas hit his 2nd homerun of the season while Alex Gordon hit his 22nd. Those two runs would be sufficient, though the Royals did add two more insurance runs to be safe.
Game 150: Twins 3 @ Royals 7
Since the All-Star break, Luke Hochevar has a 3.52 ERA in 12 games started. He has been consistent and has helped the Royals mount an impressive 2nd half of the season. He added to his resume with a solid start to help the Royals sweep the Twins as he held them to 2 runs in 6 innings. He got help from some rookies as Mike Moustakas, Sal Perez and Johnny Giavotella each had 2 RBI.
Game 151: White Sox 2 @ Royals 7
The Royals kept on rolling as Melky Cabrera had a four hit night including his 18th homerun of the season. Not to be out-done, Billy Butler hit his 19th homerun so he could maintain bragging rights. Starter Jeff Francis held the division rival White Sox at bay for 6 inning by allowing only 2 runs. It was another great night for the bullpen as Louis Coleman and Aaron Crow combined for 3 shutout innings in the victory.
Game 152: White Sox 6 @ Royals 7
Decent pitching, decent hitting and a clutch late-inning double by a rookie. It seems almost routine after the last few weeks and hopefully it's a sign of what's coming in the future. On this night, things went to plan as Felipe Paulina had a solid start and Eric Hosmer finished it with a game-winning RBI double in the 9th inning.
Game 153: White Sox 3 @ Royasl 10
The Royals extended their season high winning streak to 7 games by punishing the White Sox. It's a nice turnabout for some old wounds that the Royals have incurred at the Sox home ballpark. Everett Teaford got his second win in as many starts by holding the White Sox to a single run in 6 innings. The real fireworks came on the offensive side of the ball where the Royals scored10 runs on 18 hits. Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur each had a home run while Alcides Escobar hit his 8th triple of the season.
Game 154: White Sox 10 @ Royals 5
The White Sox got some payback after the previous night by dropping a ten-spot on them in retaliation. Frequent Royalsl tormentor A.J. Pierzzynski had a two home run night and Bruce Chen got roughed up in his start. Super rookie Eric Hosmer had a three hit evening as the Royals attempted a comeback but came up far short and ended their winning streak.
Position player of the week: Mike Moustakas
The rooke hit 3 homeruns this week en route to a .524/.545/1.048 week. He looks a lot more comfortable at the plate and hopefully this is a sign of what's to come.
Starting pitcher of the week: Everett Teaford
The kid does it again. Two wins in two starts. He struck out 4 and only allowed a solo-home run in his one start this week. He's certainly working on a spot in the rotation for 2012.
Relief pithcer of the week: Greg Holland
He only pitched 1.2 innings, but he only allowed a single baserunner who reached via walk. He's been the best relief pitcher on the team this season and nothing is slowing that down now.
The week to come
Well, we're down to the final week or so of games and the final home game is on Wednesday.Every game is a division game.
9/20-9/21 vs Tigers
923-9/25 vs White Sox
9/26-9/28 vs Twins
I really thought that the Royals would surpass the Twins and leave the cellar this week. It didn't happen, but I'm still convinced that it is going to happen. This team is better than the Twins, I have little doubt about that. The week wasn't all bad, they split a four game series with the division leading Detroit Tigers on the road but could only take one of three against the Indians at home.
Game 135: Royals 9 @ Tigers 5
The Royals offense is really beginning to click right now, but you know that things are going well when Sal Perez and Alcides Escobar hit back-to-back home runs. Luke Hochevar had another mediocre start (again) as he allowed 5 earned runs in 7 innings pitched, but he did strike out 7 and walk only 2. Luckily for the Royals, it was more than enough as they plated 9 runs in Detroit to take the series opener.
Game 136: Royals 1 @ Tigers 2
It's deja-vu all over again, the Royals played a one-run game that took extra-innings. This time, they were on the losing end as the offense was suddenly held silent by Tigers pitcher Doug Fister. Jeff Francis did his part as he held the strong Tigers offense scoreless through his 6 innings, but both Greg Holland and Aaron Crow allowed a run. It was just another heart-breaking loss, of which there have been many this season for the Royals.
Game 137: Royals 4 @ Tigers 5
Nate Adcock has done a pretty darn good job considering he had never pitched above A ball prior to this season. This game he was called upon to start and again, he did a pretty darn good job. He went 5.1 innings, allowed 2 earned runs and walked nobody. The suddenly shaky bullpen allowed 3 runs (all by Blake Wood) to surrender the Royals lead in the bottom of the 8th inning. Eric Hosmer was the offensive star as he hit his 13th and 14th home runs of the season.
Game 138: Indians 5 @ Royals 4
Bruce Chen has been pitching very well since he came off of the disabled list, but it was surely just a matter of time until the soft-tossing lefty had a bit of a struggle. That time came in this game as Chen allowed 5 runs on 8 hits in 6 innings. It was almost good enough as the Royals held a 4 run lead going into the bottom of the 5th, but the scoring stopped there. Alex Gordon helped the offensive output by hitting his 20th home run, and short stop Alcides Escobar had a pair of hits in the game as well.
Game 139: Indians 1 @ Royals 5
Now THIS is the kind of game that makes Luke Hochevar a potential ace. He pitched 8 innings while striking out 8, walking 1 and allowing no runs on 3 hits. The offense also held up their end by scoring 5 runs on Indians starter David Huff. Rookie second baseman Johnny Giavotella smacked his 2nd home run and Jeff Francoeur had two hits including his 46th double this season.
Game 140: Indians 9 @ Royals 6
In his second start this week, Jeff Francis wasn't near as effective as he was in the first start. He gave up 4 earned runs in 5 innings and the bullpen followed his lead by giving up another 5 in the final 4 innings of the game. Giving up 9 runs isn't the kind of thing that an offense can overcome, though the Royals did try. They scored 6 runs, including 3 in the 9th but the Royals still came up short. The middle of the lineup did the best they could as Butler, Hosmer and Giavotella combined for 7 hits and 4 RBI.
Position player of the week: Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer has shown not only that he belongs in the Major Leagues, but that he is capable of being a star. This week he hit .440/.484/.840 with 3 home runs and 4 walks.
Starting pitcher of the week: Luke Hochevar
Hochevar had two starts this week and had a 3.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts and only 3 walks. He really seems to be taking a step forward this season. While he isn't likely going to be the ace that the Royals envisioned, he has proven he can be a positive contributor in the starting rotation.
Relief pitcher of the week: Everett Teaford
The relievers were not particularly good this week, especially the suddenly struggling Aaron Crow. However Everett Teaford had a pretty solid week as he pitched 3 innings, struck out 2 and allowed no earned runs.
The week to come
The Royals head back on the road following the very brief home stand. They hit the west coast as they visit Oakland to play the Athletics, then onto Seattle and the Mariners. Again the goal is to surpass the Minnesota Twins in the standings, and that's likely going to require a winning road trip, so I'm looking for a 4-3 trip, which is certainly plausible against these two teams.
Last week, the Royals were on the road but still won half of their games. That's a successful road trip for even the best teams. For the Royals it's reason to celebrate, because they've been miserable on the road this year (22-42). The Royals are making up ground on the Twins for 4th place in the division. It's not something to get excited about though it may signal an inflection point in the as-of-late lopsided rivalry.
2 White Sox -6.0
3 Indians -6.5
4 Twins -17.0
5 Royals -18.5
Game 129: Royals 6 @ Blue Jays 4
Before the season I said that I thought Bruce Chen would make 0 starts after the All-Star break, I'm very happy to be woefully incorrect on that prediction. Chen made two solid starts this week, and started with this one in Toronto. In a very un-Chen like performance, he struck out 9 batters and gave up only 4 hits as he allowed 3 runs in 7.2 innings pitched. The offense put on a hitting clinic as they had 16 hits including home runs by Hosmer and Butler, but yielded only 6 runs. It was enough even to overcome what seems like a customary run allowed by Joakim Soria in the 9th inning.
Game 130: Royals 3 @ Blue Jays 4
Luke Hochevar put together another quality start on the road no less. More importantly he walked only 1 Blue Jay while striking out 5. Rookie Mike Moustakas seemed to be breaking out of his slump as he went 2-for-3 with a walk, and Billy Butler had a three hit game as well. All of it went for naught since what matters in the end is which team scores more runs, and the Royals came up a run short in this 4-3 contest.
Game 131: Royals 9 @ Blue Jays 6
In the rubber match of the series, the Royals made better use of their 16 hits by scoring 9 runs rather than the 6 from the opening game. Billy Butler raised his season average to .300 with a 4 hit night, and Moustakas had another mutli-hit game to lend even more credence to the theory that he's coming around. The Royals needed nearly all of those 9 runs as the bullpen didn't hold up after Jeff Francis departed after 6 innings and 2 runs. The amazingly steady Greg Holland and the suddenly unpredictable Joakim Soria each gave up a pair of runs to turn a blowout into an interesting game.
Game 132: Royals 1 @ Indians 2
Felipe Paulino is certainly the lesser known than Ubaldo Jimenez, but both were acquired this season by the Royals and Indians and Paulino has been the better pickup so far. Jimenez did show in this game at least, that he can be an elite caliber pitcher from time-to-time. He shut down the Royals by striking out 10 and walking only 1 in his 7 innings of work. Paulino wasn't near as effective, but held the Indians to 2 runs in 6.2 innings. The rookie duo of Moustakas and Hosmer each had a pair of hits in the loss.
Game 133: Royals 8 @ Indians 7
The second game of the series went quite differently than the first. The Royals gathered 11 hits including Alex Gordon's 18th home run of the season en route to scoring 7 runs. Starter Danny Duffy was effective bug inefficient as he struck out 7 in only 5.1 innings of work. The bullpen held their own until a 3 run home run by Asdrubal Cabrera off of Louis Coleman in the 8th put the Royals down for good.
Game 144: Royals 2 @ Indians 1
Bruce Chen has found something in the past two years, and the million dollar question is whether he can keep it up. For now, though he's doing just fine. On this night, he held the Indians to 1 run in 7.1 innings which was barely enough. Relievers Greg Holland and Joakim Soria seemed to brush off their last disaster and did exactly what a setup man and a closer are supposed to do: 5 up, 5 down to close the game for the win.
Position player of the week: Mike Moustakas
I'm relieved to see the young third-baseman in this position. To say he's been struggling is very much an understatement. However, in the last 7 days, he's really turned it on. Last week, he hit .478/.520/.565 with 2 doubles and 2 walks -- raising his season triple slash line to .232/.287/.291.
Starting pitcher of the week: Bruce Chen
The amazing Panamanian lefty has been proving doubters wrong for two years and this week is a prime example of why. He started 2 games and struck out 13 batters, walked only 3 and allowed 4 earned runs. He also passed through waivers because no teams were interested in trading for him. It's possibly a sign of the lack of playoff races, but there still are doubts as to whether he can continue to do what he's been doing.
Reliever of the week: Blake Wood
It was an odd week for relievers. Lately it's been easy to just hand it to Greg Holland and be done with it, but even though he was his typical self, he did have one game that hurt him badly. So this week, I'm giving the award to Blake Wood. His week wasn't great, but he did pitch a couple of important innings and did so capably. It's nice to have a guy like that around and Wood did his job fine enough this week to net himself this digital hardware.
The week to come
The Royals continue their road-trip in Detroit where they will face the division leading Tigers and then return home for a very short weekend home stand against the Indians. While the Royals are out of the race, there will be some jockeying for position within the lower ranks of the division and soon the Rosters will be expanding and some new faces will join the fray.
829-9/1 - @ Detroit
9/2-9/4 - vs Cleveland
While the Royals could only secure two wins last week, they did play two of the best teams in baseball. They also didn't seem to be completely outclassed. They hung in most of the games and were battling from beginning to end. Also in the news this week, the Royals signed Jeff Francoeur to a two year extension. This is the least shocking news I've ever heard, and it also seems a bit unnecessary.
2 Indians -4.5
3 White Sox -5.0
4 Twins -13.0
5 Royals -17.0
Game 122: Yankees 7 @ Royals 4
Every single Royals player got a hit in this game. Unfortunately, only one was for extra-bases and that was a double by Melky Cabrera. With that many singles, it's no surprise that the Royals only scored 4 runs on 12 hits. The Yankees on the other hand hit the ball for more power and put up 5 runs on Felipe Paulino on route to a total of 7 runs. Johnny Giavotella had an up-and-down game as he had 3 hits and was caught stealing twice.
Game 123: Yankees 9 Royals 7
The Royals found their power stroke in the second game of the Yankees series as they hit 3 doubles, a triple and a home run. The 7 runs they scored were not going to be enough as starter Danny Duffy struggled again. He allowed 8 runs on 8 hits and struck out 3 in only 3 innings pitched. Aaron Crow also showed his recent struggles by allowing a run and 3 hits in 2/3rds of an inning. There's no shame in giving up runs to a lineup like the Yankees, but giving up 9 is well more than nearly any offense can overcome.
Game 124: Yankees 4 @ Royals 5
Bruce Chen has acted as a stopper for the Royals most of this season. He was going to have to do it again to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Yankees. He wasn't dominant, but he was good enough to allow his team to win the game as he went 6 innings and allowed 3 runs on 7 hits. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler both had home runs in the same inning, although Butlers was contested and reviewed before being held up. Mike Moustakas could forget his struggles at the plate for at least one game as he went 3-for-3 with a double.
Game 125: Red Sox 4 @ Royals 3
Playing the Red Sox and Yankees back-to-back is enough to make any Royals fan glad to be in the American League Central. The Red Sox picked up right where the Yankees left off when they took game one from the Royals. Luke Hochevar had an OK start as he went 6 innings and allowed 4 earned runs. He allowed 8 hits, but he struck out 6 to keep the Red Sox somewhat at bay. Alex Gordon had a double and a home run, while Billy Butler had a three hit night. The bullpen held serve, but the Royals couldn't come up with that one more run they needed.
Game 126: Red Sox 7 @ Royals 1
This was the first game of the week where the Royals were not in the game. They had a punchless offense against a middling pitcher in Andrew Miller, and they had a pitching staff giving up runs at a breakneck pace. Jeff Francis continued his struggles of late as he surrendered 5 runs in 5 innings, not that it mattered much as the offense mustered only 4 hits and a single run. On the bright side, Mike Moustakas went 1-for-2 with a doublbe, a walk and a run scored.
Game 127: Red Sox 4 @ Royals 9
The Royals made up for the previous day's outing by pounding the Red Sox for 9 runs, nearly all of it scored in an 8 run 6th inning. Most of the heart of the lineup was involved as Gordon, Butler, Hosmer, Francoeur and Moustakas all had multi-hit nights and at least one extra-base hit. Starter Felipe Paulino did his part as he kept the team in the game until they could find that offensive spark. He allowed 4 earned runs in 6 innings, which isn't great but kept things close for long enough. The bullpen came in and ensured victory as Wood, Collins and Holland shut down the potent Red Sox lineup compeletely.
Game 128: Red Sox 6 @ Royals 1
The Royals reverted back to the team that made Andrew Miller look like a superstar as Jon Lester pitched an absolute gem. Danny Duffy rebounded and allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings of work while striking out 3. Most of the damage was done with Aaron Crow and Luis Coleman on the mound when they allowed 4 runs in 1.2 innings of work. All of it was unnecessary as the Royals could only score 1 run on 3 hits, all coming off of rookies Giavotella, Moustakas and Perez. I guess nobody told them that they weren't allowed to get hits off of Lester as it seems the Royals believe.
Position player of the week: Billy Butler
Country Breakfast earned the top spot this week by hitting .440/.483/.640. He had 11 hits, 2 doubles, 1 home run and 3 walks. Mike Moustakas gets a nod for his efforts as well, he was the runner-up this week and hopefully that signals better days for the struggling rookie.
Starting pitcher of the week: Bruce Chen
The performances this week, weren't anything to write home about, so Bruce Chen gets the award for being the least terrible of the week. A 4.50 ERA in 6 innings and allowing a .304 average isn't exactly worthy of any sort of award, but hey, somebody has to win.
Relief pitcher of the week: Greg Holland
Greg Holland is the best relief pitcher on this team right now and it isn't even close. He pitched 4 innings and allowed a single base-runner while striking out 4. What his role will be in 2012 will be quite interesting to watch.
The week to come
The Royals hit the road for an extended road trip that begins in Canada. They are going to need to shake the past week off and try to win some games on the road. 4th place is not out of the question, but it's going to take a winning streak of some sort.
8/23-8/25 @ Toronto
8/26-8/28 @ Cleveland
Is it just me or did it seem like the Royals won more than one game last week? They hung tight with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago White Sox but the results were not in their favor. I expected this week to be more competitive than it was, but again this team is young and fluctuations are normal.
2 Indians -2.5
3 White Sox -4.0
5 Twins -11.5
6 Royals -14.5
Game 115: Royals 1 @ Rays 2
Luke Hochevar continued is post All-Star game dominance as he held the Rays scoreless through 6 innings and gave up a single run in the 7th. Unfortunately, his opponent, Jeremy Hellickson did him one better by allowing 0 runs in 7.1 innings. The Royals couldn't get to the Rays bullpen either and dropped the pitching duel 1-0.
Game 116: Royals 0 @ Rays 4
Jeff Francis pitched 7 decent innings and used only 80 pitches to do so. He allowed 4 earned runs, however which were 4 too many for the Royals offense. Again the Rays pitchers completely man-handled the Royals offense. This time holding them to no runs and 6 hits. The bottom of the order did the most damage as Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar both got two hits in the loss.
Game 117: Royals 7 @ Rays 8
For 8 innings, this game seemed pretty normal. The Royals held a 4 to 3 lead and seemed in a very nice position to win if the 9th went smootly. It did anything but. The Royals started the party by scoring 3 runs in the top of the 9th to take a 4 run lead. Surely with the Royals dominant bullpen and closer Joakim Soria, they were going to win the game. The Rays had other plans as they put together their own scoring barrage. Aaron Crow entered the game and allowed 2 earned runs while getting no outs. This further fueled the speculation that there's something wrong with him. Then Joakims Soria came into the game and poured gasoline on Aaron Crow's fire by allowing another 3 runs including a game-winning Sam Fuld triple.
Game 118: Royals 1 @ Rays 4
In their final attempt to beat the Rays in this four game series, the Royals offense was again smothered by the Rays pitching. Again, the bottom of the order did their job as Sal Perez, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar each had 2 hit games. Melky Cabrera had 3 hits himself at the top of the order, however the Royals were unable to string any of these together to get some runs. Danny Duffy put together a decent start as he went 7 innings and allowed 3 earned runs, but it fell short of what the team needed.
Game 119: Royals 5 @ White Sox 1
A win! Finally, a win. After watching the Rays series, Bruce Chen probably figured he needed to pitch a shutout in order to help his team win a game. He did just that in the 6 innings he worked as he allowed no runs and just one hit to the White Sox. It was more than enough as the top of the lineup suddenly came alive with home runs from Butler and Cabrera.
Game 120: Royals 4 @ White Sox 5
The Royals managed to score 4 runs on 3 singles in the 5th inning and took a brief lead over the division rival White Sox. However, Luke Hochevar showed his tendency to wobble as he gave up 2 runs and the lead in the 7th inning. Reliever Aaron Crow came in and didn't exactly wow either as he walked a pair in a single inning of work. Rookie Johnny Giavotella continued to impress as he had a pair of hits and an RBI. Another hard-fought loss, something that seems pretty typical of this season.
Game 121: Royals 2 @ White Sox 6
A pretty pitiful end to a pitiful week. Starter Jeff Francis couldn't make it out of the 4th inning and had already put the Royals in a tough to overcome 6 run deficit. The offense, which was the biggest problem this week, again were punch-less as they could only muster a meager 2 runs on a Mitch Maier single. It put the capstone on a road trip that the team would likely rather forget.
Position player of the week: Melky Cabrera
His defense still isn't good enough to play center field, but his offense has been. Last week, he hit .448/.438/.759. It's concerning when an OBP is less than an AVG, but not when they're both over .430. The future of Cabrera will be interesting to watch, can he repeat this season next year? Doubtful, but he could still be productive.
Starting pitcher of the week: Luke Hochevar
He had one great start and one ok start. But he still had a 4.15 ERA on the week and continues to show improvement. He had 11 strikeouts and 5 walks, for a ratio that would be solid for an entire season. Can he carry this into 2012?
Relief pitcher of the week: Nate Adcock
The Rule V pickup has had quite the roller coaster of a season. He's a reliever, he's never used, he's a starter, now he's not, back to the bullpen, etc. Last week he pitched 3.1 innings and surrendered no runs. For never having pitched above the single-A level, he should get a lot of credit for how he's handled himself this season.
The Week to come
The Royals get to come home, but life won't get easier. They'll be facing the New York Yankees for three and the Boston Red Sox for four games. There should be an attendance spike, which is good for the team's bank account though. This will be a good chance for the plucky young Royals to build some confidence if they can at least split the games.
8/15-8/17 vs Yankees 8/18-8/21 vs Red Sox