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