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Kansas City Royals week in review: 5/31/2011

The week in review is a day late due to the Memorial Day holiday, I hope you will excuse the tardiness. The Royals won only a single game last week. There's no sugar-coating a week like that. This team is certainly struggling and doing so in a number of ways. One day it's no offense, the next it's no starting pitching and the next it's a flailing bullpen. The biggest change of the week came in the form of Joakim Soria losing his closer role to rookie Aaron Crow, a move which probably should have happened earlier.

Standings

1 Indians

2 Tigers -5.0

3 White Sox -8.5

4 Royals -9.0

5 Twins -14.5

Game 47: Royals 3 @ Orioles 6 - boxscore

The first game of the week was oddly prescient as then closer Joakim Soria gave up three runs in the bottom of the 9th to blow his third save of the season. It wouldn't be his last, but it was surely the beginning of the end. Danny Duffy toed the mound for the second time in his Big League career and he seemed significantly more comfortable in his role. He struck out 6 while walking only 3 in 5.1 innings. Alex Gordon hit his 5th home run of the season to continue his resurgence.

Game 48: Royals 2 @ Orioles 9 - boxscore

Starter Luke Hochever was cruising through the first 3 innings and then suddenly -- POW -- out comes Big Inning Luke and he surrenders 8 runs in a single inning. It's as maddening as it is inexplicable, but he's prone to it happening. The Royals were never able to overcome that deficit. The lone bright spots were Melky Cabrera and Billy Butler collecting a pair of hits.

Game 49: Royals 5 @ Orioles 6 - boxscore

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Royals starter struggles but offense keeps pace with the opponent, the bullpen gets involved and keeps the team in the game until a team wins in extra-innings. Its seems as if every other game this season follows that script. This time it was the Orioles beating the Royals in the 12th inning and starter Jeff Francis struggling. Regardless it was a hard fought game where they had a chance to win, but couldn't pull it off.

Game 50: Royals 12 @ Rangers 7 - boxscore

A WIN! It's the only one the Royals would be able to claim this week, but it was at least very entertaining. It was a tale of two games as the teams combined to score 13 runs in the first 2 innings and then only 1 more run was scored through the following 12. That one run came courtesy of an Alex Gordon home run that tied the game in the top of the 9th inning and helped send the game to extra-innings, again.

The early fireworks were the result of newly minted starter Nate Adcock, who surrendered 7 runs in 2.2 innings. Luckily, the bullpen responded by throwing 11 scoreless innings, including 4.1 innings from newly acquired pitcher Felipe Paulino. In the top of the 14th, the Royals were going to make sure they took home the W as Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, Eric Hosmer and Brayan Pena all homered in a 5 run explosion.

Game 51: Royals 1 @ Rangers 10 - boxscore

If revenge is a dish best served cold, then nobody told the Texas Rangers. They rebounded from the stunning 14 inning loss by pounding out runs on the Royals early and often. The latest Royals starter to fall victim to surrender-runsitis is Sean O'Sullivan who allowed 10 in 5.2 innings while striking out only one. The Royals offense also laid down and died as the Rangers rolled.

Game 52: Royals 6 @ Rangers 7 - boxscore

Royals rookie starter Danny Duffy had a tough hill to climb as he was facing a high-powered offense in a park conducive to offense. He performed well, giving up 3 runs in 6 innings while striking out 4. He limited the mistakes by only walking one. After an early deficit, the Royals took the lead in a 5 run 4th inning on a pair of run scoring singles and a Brayan Pena home run. The Rangers continued to chip away and tied the game in the bottom of the 8th with Aaron Crow on the mound. The Royals took a one run lead in the top of the 9th and again put closer Joakim Soria in to try and shut the door. He failed again and earned his 2nd loss and 4th blown save.

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 unsurpising 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.

Position player of the week: Alex Gordon

He's begun to settle in as the lead-off hitter. In the last week he's hit .273/.333/.636 with 3 home runs and 3 doubles.

Starting pitcher of the week: Danny Duffy

He took the mound twice this week and held his own in two hitter friendly parks. In those two starts he threw 11.1 innings and gave up 5 earned runs while striking out 10 and walking 4. He seemed to be much more in contol and confident on the mound than he did in his Major League debut, which isn't surprising.

Relief pitcher of the week: Felipe Paulino

He threw 4.1 innings last week, but it was in one game in Arlington and he allowed only one baserunner. He did that only hours after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies for cash. He kept the Royals in the game and was instrumental in the only win the Royals got this week.

On the farm:

Mike Moustakas (3B) continued his hot streak as he's hit .325/.349/.400 in his last 10 games for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA).

Lorenzo Cain (CF) has also been stroking the ball and has a .445 on-base percentage in his last 10 games. He's now hitting .304/.378/.484 on the season for Omaha.

Mike Mongomery (LHP) has given up 11 runs in his last two starts combined as he continues to have some struggles at the triple-A level.

Salvador Perez (C) has hit .316/.333/.421 in his last 10 games for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA).

Jake Odorizzi (RHP) continues to tear through High-A as he's now holding a 2.31 ERA in 9 starts with 66 strikeouts and 12 walks for the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Cheslor Cuthbert (3B) has gotten off to a fast start for the Kane County Cougars (A-) as he's hit .314/.368/.543 with 2 home runs in his first 8 games this season.

The week to come:

With visions of a Division title in 2011 slipping away, it's time for the Royals to get down to business and just win a few games for respectability. Being at home should help, as will the possibility of a new closer.

5/31-6/1 vs Angels

6/2-6/5 vs Twins

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.*

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Royals broadcaster and pitcher Paul Splittorff has died

Just last week, it was reported that Royals broadcaster and former pitcher Paul Splittorff was seriously ill. I had hoped that the reports were premature and he would be able to fight and win his battle with cancer. Unfortunately, that wasn't in the cards as he died at his family home in Blue Springs, Missouri.

Splittorff was my favorite television broadcaster the Royals have put on the air. His opinions were thoughtful, intelligent and frank. He was also a fantastic pitcher and he still holds the franchise record in Wins (166), Starts (392) and Innings Pitched (2554.2). He's a member of the Royals Hall of Fame and deservedly so.

It's certainly a sad day for all Royals fans. Paul Splittorff was a great pitcher and a better person and he represented himself and the Royals well in everything he did. He's without question the model of what every Royal should be on and off the field. He'll certainly be missed.

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 5/23/2011

So far this season, Kauffman Stadium has kind to the Kansas City Royals.However, this week, their fortunes changed. A likely combination of increased competition and regression to the mean handed the Royals a 2-5 home-stand last week. To make up for injuries and to improve the roster the Royals made a series of roster moves from Kyle Davies going on the disabled list to prospect Danny Duffy being promoted. The team as it is today is quite a bit different than the one that took the field on Monday. That's something that's certainly going to continue as the wave of young talent forces it's way onto the Major League roster.

Standings:

1 Indians

2 Tigers -7.0

3 Royals -8.0

4 White Sox -9.0

5 Twins -14.5

Game 40: Indians 19 @ Royals 1 - boxscore

It was a night that every Royals fan and player would like to forget. The division leading Indians come in to town and put on a hitting clinic. Starter Kyle Davies left after 1/3 of an inning and starter Vin Mazzaro was put in to try and eat innings and keep the Royals in the game. He failed to do that in historic fashion by allowing 14 earned runs in 2.1 innings. The Royals never came back and luckily an 18 run deficit still only counted as one loss.

Game 41: Indians 7 @ Royals 3 – boxscore

The Royals dropped both the second game of the brief two-game series with the Indians as starter Sean O’Sullivan’s inability to miss bats led to 6 runs. The Royals offense however, did seem to show signs of life as Melky Cabrera and Eric Hosmer both had two hits and an RBI.

Game 42: Rangers 5 @ Royals 4 – boxscore

The Royals promoted highly-touted prospect Danny Duffy and immediately inserted him in the rotation. His first start wasn’t as good as he’s used to in triple-A, but he held his own against Major League hitters as he struck out four in four innings while surrendering two runs. The game was tied going into the ninth inning when an Elvis Andrus single scored Rangers center fielder Craig Gentry to take a one-run lead. It was a short-lived lead as Eric Hosmer hit the very first pitch in the bottom of the ninth into the right field seats for a home-run. A wild pair of extra-innings ensued as the Royals had two consecutive players walk and get picked off at first base. The Rangers scored a pair in the top of the 11th and the Royals could only muster one in the bottom off the inning as they lost the opener to the Rangers.

Game 43: Rangers 1 @ Royals 2 – boxscore

The Royals needed an ace-like start from Luke Hochevar to stop their losing skid, and that’s exactly what they got. Hochevar went 8.2 innings and allowed only a single run while striking out four. It was barely enough as the Royals tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on a Mike Aviles single. In what should be very familiar to Royals fans this season, there were more extra innings. This time it only took one when Jeff Francoeur singled home Melky Cabrera on another walk-off victory for the Royals.

Game 44: Cardinals 0 @ Royals 3 – boxscore

Veteran starter Jeff Francis wasn’t about to let Luke Hochevar hog all of the glory as he held the Cardinals scoreless over 7.2 innings while striking out 6. A three run 7th was a team effort as four different players got hits and one got a walk. It was all the run support needed as relievers Aaron Crow and Joakim Soria held the team across the state scoreless to complete the shutout.

Game 45: Cardinals 3 @ Royals 0 – boxscore

The Cardinals must have been thinking that turnabout was fair play as their staff held the Royals scoreless and they put up three runs to produce a mirror image of the previous night’s game. Spot starter Nate Adcock held his own for five scoreless innings, but the normally stingy bullpen allowed three runs in the last inning and two thirds. No Royal had more than a single hit and none of the five hits they did get went for extra bases. It wasn’t a recipe for success as the Royals dropped the second game of the series.

Game 46: Cardinals 9 @ Royals 8

The Royals were in a six run hole going into the bottom of the 5th inning thanks to a very tight strike zone and another start by Sean O’Sullivan where he wasn’t able to strike any one out. This Royals team, however seems to always believe they can come back and they chipped away at the lead. They scored one in the 5th, three in the 6th and two in the 7th to tie the ball game at seven. The scoring parade was lead by two home runs by Wilson Betemit and one by both Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon. It’s beginning to be repetitive, but the Royals went to extra innings, again. This time, it benefitted the Cardinals as they plated a pair in the top of the 10th and the Royals could only muster one.

Position player of the week: Eric Hosmer

Hosmer hit .333/.355/.533 last week and lead the team in hits and total bases. He did however, strike out eight times and walk only once. It's likely that opposing pitchers are going to start throwing more balls out of the zone and make him chase. How Hosmer responds and adjusts will be very telling.

Starting pitcher of the week: Jeff Francis

The off-season free agent continues to impress. In his one start this week against the hot-hitting St. Louis Cardinals, Francis threw 7.2 scoreless innings while striking out six and walking only two.

Relief pitcher of the week: Aaron Crow

Just another ho-hum week for Aaron Crow. He threw 3.1 innings while allowing no runs and striking out five. Crow has a 0.79 ERA on the season and has averaged more than a strikeout per inning.

On the farm:

Clint Robinson (1B) has been white-hot recently as he's hit .419/.479/.698 in his last 10 games for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA). He's now hitting .352/.434/.630 on the season.

Mike Montgomery (LHP) had a very nice start for Omaha last week as he threw seven innings and struck out seven with only two walks. On the season he has 40 strikeouts to 27 walks in 49.1 innings.

John Lamb (LHP) left his last start for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA) after getting only one out with elbow discomfort. He was placed on the disabled list as the team was trying to assess the problem.

Salvador Perez (C) has been on a hot streak in Northwest Arkansas. He's hit .324/.359/.459 in his last 10 games with a home run and two doubles.

Carlo Testa (LF) is hitting .405/.476/.676 in his last 10 games for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (A+). \

Jake Odorizzi (RHP) is sporting a 2.28 ERA with 59 strikeouts and only 9 walks for Wilmington. He was acquired this past off-season as part of the Zack Greinke trade.

Sugar Ray Marimon (RHP) combined with Chas Byrne (RHP) to throw a no-hitter last week for the Kane County Cougars (A-).

Blue Valley Northwest graduate Jason Adam (RHP) has had a fine start to his professional career. In his last start he threw 8 innings while striking out six and walking none for Kane County.

The week to come:

The Royals hit the road this week as they visit Baltimore and Texas for a pair of three-game series. Danny Duffy is slated to get two starts and how he continues to adapt to the highest level will be quite interesting. Since the Royals are 8 games out of first, watching what the first place Indians are doing isn't of much importance this week. It's up to the Royals to win a bunch of games if they want to hang in the race regardless of what any other team does.

5/24-5/26 @ Baltimore

5/27-5/29 @ Texas

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Royals option Jarrod Dyson to Omaha and promote Greg Holland

I was pretty sure that the next roster move would be for the Royals to demote relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and activate Robinson Tejeda from the disabled list. Apparenly, I'm no Kreskin (am I dating myself) because the Royals announced they were optioning speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson to Omaha and calling up relief pitcher Greg Holland.

The move makes some sense, considering the Royals emptied their bullpen yesterday and Dyson has been used almost exclusively as a pinch runner. However that leaves the Royals with 13 pitchers on the 25 man roster and therefore a very short bench. It's unclear how long they will go with a 13 man staff, but with guys like Adcock making spot starts and a young pitcher like Danny Duffy there is an argument that it is the right move. This is accentuated by the fact that Ned Yost does not really seem to like pinch hitting guys, because he rarely runs into a short bench situation.

Jarrod Dyson was probably going to last for a long time on a modern American League bench. The game has changed to the point that while he's valuable, he's expendable. Given the fact that he has options remaining and Mitch Maier didn't makes him the guy to go. I think he may resurface in the big leagues, but we may have seen the last of the 50th round pick with super-natural speed.

Greg Holland is notable because he was the first player drafted under the Dayton Moore regime to make it to the big leagues with the Royals. For the triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers he has posted a 2.08 ERA in 21.2 innings with 27 strikeouts and 11 walks. He should be a quality addition to an already stacked bullpen.

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Dany Duffy’s Royals debut comes in a wild game

One of my favorite moments in baseball is watching a player's debut at the Major League. It's a once in a lifetime moment that the player has likely dreamed of for nearly his entire life. Many debuts are brief and most are uneventful. The vast majority of players get their first taste of the big leagues as a relief pitcher or a position player, so the debut consists of a brief inning or a handful of at bats. Last night was the somewhat rare occurrence of a player getting his first shot as a starting pitcher as Danny Duffy made his highly anticipated appearance in a Kansas City Royals uniform.

It's something that has been more rare, it seems for the Royals than for other clubs. The last Royals player to make his debut as a starter was J.P. Howell on June 11th 2005 in Arizona. The last Royal to make his debut as a starting pitcher an do so in Kauffman Stadium was Jimmy Serrano on August, 4th 2004. It's unlikely that there will be that long of a time between the next pitcher to debut as a starter, however it was a rather unique moment and the game that was played matched the uniqueness.

Duffy's first pitch was a 95 mph called strike to Rangers hitter Endy Chavez and the crowd cheered the big moment for the young pitcher. His second pitch was a 96 mph fastball which was swung on and missed. Duffy is known to have a very nice fastball, but 96 seemed to be a bit fast.

It looked as if he was over-throwing a bit and was falling off the mound pretty hard as he followed through. I'd imagine that Duffy had a little extra adrenaline flowing in that first inning, which combined with every players desire to prove that they belong was enough to put him just a tad out of his comfort zone. After the game he was asked if he was a little amped up more than usual.

"Absolutely, I think anytime in a situation like that you're going to be pumped, but I need to learn to control that."

I asked him if he felt he was over-throwing in the first inning.

"I felt like I was really under control, it was jumping out of my hand....I was amped."

The ball was jumping out of his hands as he hit 96 a few times in the first and didn't hit it again the rest of the game. He also didn't have great command of his off-speed pitches. That resulted in a couple of singles and a walk, but a double play and a weak popfly let him escape without damage other than an elevated pitch count.

As the game moved on, Duffy seemed to settle down a bit and his control and off-speed stuff returned to him. All three outs in the second were strikeouts, although he did walk Mike Napoli. It's significant because one of Duffy's biggest issues surfaced immediately when Napoli stole second base, which was his first of the season. The Rangers ended up stealing four bases on Duffy. When asked about it, manager Ned Yost said after the game:

"One of the things we're going to have tow work on is duffy containing the running game, he's a little long at times and allowed runners to go from first to second and second to third.....that's something were going to continue to work on with him, but its something we can clean up."

He ended up throwing four innings and gave up six walks while striking out four. His stuff looked very good and as he settled down he got even better. The rest of the game was a crazy series of opportunities followed by mis-steps on both sides, with neither team really doing anything to earn the win but rather seeing which team was going to lose.

It seemed to be in the Royals hands as Eric Hosmer crushed a game tying home run on the first pitch of the 9th inning against Rangers closer Neftali Feliz. Then back to back Royals batters walked and were picked off and the game went to extra innings. The Royals seemed to feel that Feliz was balking as he was throwing to first, which caught the runners off the bag. However, it's only a balk if the umpire says it is and he was silent. If Feliz does have as Ned Yost termed it "a balk move", then I can see the first player getting caught, but there's little excuse for the second.

In the end, it was a hard-fought but sloppy game. The Royals stayed in it with the defending American League champions. However staying in games isn't enough as Danny Duffy said after the game:

"I didn't come up here to keep my team in the game, I came up here to win. It's a bummer."

A bummer indeed, but staying in games is the first step. Winning, with this group of players seems almost inevitable. It didn't happen last night, but it will.

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals promote Danny Duffy and insert him into the starting rotation

With the injury to Kyle Davies and the inneffectiveness of Vin Mazzaro last night, it was only a matter of time before the Royals made some moves to help the starting Rotation.

The first move came when the Royals optioned Vin Mazzaro to Omaha (AAA) and promoted Everett Teaford in his place. However, if Davies were to go on the disabled list, there would be a need for a starter. That move was announced today when the Royals said that they will be promoting highly-regarded pitching prospect Danny Duffy from Omaha to Kansas City.

He will be making his first Major League start on Wednesday against the Texas Rangers. Prior to the season Danny Duffy was rated by Baseball America as the 68th best prospect in baseball. At Omaha Duffy has been fantastic. In 36 innings, he's posted a 3.00 ERA while striking out 43 and walking only 10. While I was in Surprise, AZ for Spring Training he was creating a lot of buzz with scouts. He throws a hard fastball in the upper-90's with some movement due to his 3/4 arm slot.

Last year at the beginning of the season, Duffy walked away from baseball but to the great joy of the Royals organization he decided to come back later that same year.

If he were to stay on the Royals roster for the rest of the season, it's almost assured that he will be eligible for a fourth year of arbitration under the "super two" rule. The Royals have shown that they are willing to ignore the financial ramifications of early call-ups if it helps the team win games today. It seems to be a break from what the Royals have done in the past and a gamble that could backfire on them down the road.

So far Danny Duffy is the second highly touted promotion from the Royals loaded farm system. There are more to come as the season wears on. They should be able to help the team, but the real question remains as to whether or not they can keep the Royals in contention.

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Former Royals pitcher Paul Splittorff reportedly fighting cancer

Greg Hall at KC Confidential is reporting that former Kansas City Royals pitcher and current broadcaster Paul Splittorff has throat cancer and melanaoma. Hall is also reporting that Splittorff "is not expected to make it through the week."

Since 2010, Paul Splittorff has been battling some issues with his voice that left him off the television broadcasts following Opening Day. It's long been reported that he had a viral infection at the root. While he's improved since then, there is still some lingering issues with his voice that for the most part have kept him on the pre and post-game rather than his customary color commentary.

Listening to Splittorff break down a game made Royals television broadcasts not only entertaining but educational. He never talked down to the audience and he always had interesting things to say. Since his voice troubles surfaced, I've truly missed his analysis. While he clearly had some trouble talking, I was always a proponent of having him back in the booth. It was never the sound of his voice that I enjoyed, rather it was the thoughts that were being voiced. I'd always assumed that eventually, he would recover and be back in the booth.

I hope that the predictions are wrong, Split can recover and once again we can hear him discuss the fine art of pitching. In the mean-time my thoughts are with the Royals Hall-of-Fame pitcher, broadcaster and his family.

Update: The Royals have released an official statement on Paul Splittorff

The family of Paul Splittorff has confirmed that he has been admitted to an area hospital and has received treatment for both oral cancer and melanoma. The family has also requested to please respect their privacy during this difficult time and to expect no further comments on his condition.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 5/16/2011

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.

Standings:

1 Indians

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

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Royals insert Vin Mazzaro into starting rotation

Yesterday, the Kansas City Royals placed starting pitcher Bruce Chen on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lat muscle in his back. In his place on the roster and in the rotation will be Vin Mazzaro.

Vin Mazzaro was originally slated to join the season the Royals rotation as soon as they needed a fifth starter, however his first game at AAA Omaha was a complete disaster. He walked 7 batters in 2.1 innings and gave up 5 earned runs and pitched his way out of the rotation and the Royals gave Sean O'Sullivan his spot.

Mazzarro's shot at sticking in the rotation begins tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is no small obstacle to overcome. He's a command pitcher who throws a low 90's fastball and relies heavily on his above average slider. He's been working on adding another off-speed pitch to his arsenal, but it's unclear at this point whether he's done so.

The interesting question is what happens if he pitches well until Bruce Chen gets back from his stint on the disabled list? I honestly don't even have an inkling as to what they would do in that scenario. Let's look at each candidate to see what might take place.

Bruce Chen

He's clearly earned his spot in the rotation. When he comes back, he's in the rotation. His injury seems minor, so he should be back soon. He is scheduled to come off the DL on May 21.

Luke Hochever

He started Opening Day and has pitched pretty well though he's still been prone to the big inning. If he's healthy, he's another untouchable guy this season.

Kyle Davies

Kyle Davies demise has been predicted for a long time by Royals fans. He's become the whipping boy of the fanbase and with an ERA of 7.08 he looks like a prime candidate for replacement. However, he's actually pitching pretty well right now. He has a team-leading and career-high strikeout rate that he's matching with a career low walk rate. He finally seems to have begun trusting his stuff and started pounding the strike zone. I know that people want him gone, but I don't envision a non-injury scenario that pushes him out within the next mont.

Jeff Francis

He pitched really well in his first four games, then terrible in the next three and did well in his last start. I don't think anyone is quite sure what the Royals have in Jeff Francis right now. He's not likely in the Royals future plans, but they would like to trade him if the season goes south. If he isn't in the rotation, he isn't going to be traded. He's a veteran presence who the Royals like in the locker room and in the rotation. However, I think he is a prime candidate to be replaced by Mazzaro. If Mazzaro pitches well, I can envision a scenario where Francis could use some time to rest and has a small tweak in his arm. He goes to the DL for a short stint and Mazzaro keeps pitching.

Sean O'Sullivan

The real battle here is O'Sullivan vs Mazzaro. It sounds like a prize-fight from the early 1900's between two New York immigrants, but unfortunately it won't be half as intriguing. O'Sullivan's spot in the rotation belonged to Mazzaro and they will battle it out again for the rights to it. O'Sullivan has been effective, but his numbers indicate that it's all smoke-and-mirrors. His strikeout rate and walk rate are the worst in the rotation and that eventually will catch up to a pitcher. May 21 might not be enough time for Mazzaro to unseat O'Sullivan, but it's looking like round 1 of 15.

The situation is still murky and picking the starting five a month from now is exceedingly difficult. It's possible, though unlikely that the Royals could go with something less traditional like a six man rotation. Ned Yost doesn't seem like a manager who likes to get too far outside of the traditional way of thinking and I don't see him wanting to surrender another bullpen arm. It all starts tonight in Yankee Stadium, and I'm interested to see how it all plays out.

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 5/9/2011

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.

Standings:

1 Indians

2 Royals -4.5

3 Tigers -6.0

4 Twins -9.5

5 White Sox -10.0

Game 29: Orioles 5 @ Royals 6boxscore

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 2boxscore

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 9boxscore

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 2boxscore

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 4boxscore

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 2boxscore

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

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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