The guys try to contin their giddyness while comparing the Royals hot start to other teams that jusmped out to a 7-0 record. They also discuss the Alex Rios injury, the resurgance of Mike Moustakas, and Ventura versus Trout.
In this episode Danny and Craig try not to get too excited about the Royals opening day offensive onslaught, discuss the Ventura extension, and Danny predicts that Lorenzo Cain will be the American League MVP.
Note: While the plan is to record the podcast on off days during the season, we may experience a temporary hiatis, as we both plan seperate moves to the KC metro area.
In the latest installment of the Royal Blue Nation Podcast Craig Explains to Danny that Zips aren’t shoes with pockets, and the duo sets out to determine the 25 players the Royals will break camp with.
Video Links Discussed in the Podcast
Five weeks ago, James Shields was the worst starter in the Royals rotation in terms of ERA. The Royals were treading water and struggling to stay above .500 with their laboring ace. The majority of fans wanted him traded, some because of his struggles. People claimed he was “washed up”, “old”, or “hurt.”
Oh what a difference a few weeks (and a few wins) can make.
Continuing his recent dominating trend, Shields fired his first shutout as a Royal, stifling the Giants while leading his team to their sixth consecutive win. Living true to his “Big Game” nickname, the man referred to as “Juego G” in the team clubhouse picked a good time for his best start as a Royal.
Shields (11-6), who dueled with San Francisco starter Tim Hudson for most of the evening, has seen his return to dominance fueled by exquisite command of his changeup. The pitch was once again lethal on Saturday evening, providing the punchout on all five of his strikeouts. In all, Shields surrendered just four hits in the complete game effort. He walked one batter. He pitched with excellent efficiently, needing just 109 pitches (72 for strikes) to work nine innings.
“Here we come,” the Royals’ ace spoke into the microphone to the crowd of over 35,000 following the game. “This is it – this is playoff baseball.” A huge roar erupted over Kauffman before Shields could even finish his sentence.
After posting an ugly 5.66 ERA in eight starts from May 24-July 1, Shields has responded by posting a stellar 1.61 mark in his last seven games. Those seven starts – 40.2 innings, 38 hits, nine earned runs, 40 strikeouts, eight walks. That’s the James Shields the fans have come to expect. His season ERA has dropped from 3.93 to 3.25 in the stretch.
Now winners of 14 of their last 17 games, the Royals are 9-1 in their last 10, and pulled to a mere 1.5 games behind first-place Detroit. Pending the result of the Seattle/Chicago game, the win pushed them to a full game cushion in the race for the second Wild Card spot.
That may not sound like a lot, but for a franchise that hasn’t been to the postseason in 28 years, it’s more than enough to get everyone excited. Shields’ brilliant trend has erased little question over who the Royals would put on the mound in the event of a one-game playoff.
On “Nebraska Night” at Kauffman Stadium, former Cornhusker Alex Gordon lit up the building when he led off the fifth inning with a towering home run to right. The blast broke a scoreless tie and was the first hard-hit ball the team was able to manufacture against Hudson. After going 34 consecutive games without a homer, Gordon has not hit two dingers in his last three games.
The 39-year-old Hudson (8-9), making his first start at Kauffman Stadium since 2004, was sharp himself early on. He retired 11 of the first 12 Royals before Gordon’s homer, and then settled back down to make it through six innings while allowing only three hits. In the seventh, though, it all came unraveled for the veteran. Billy Butler led off the inning with another extra-base hit, just missing a homer by inches with a double off the left-center wall. Gordon followed with a single, but when Butler was held at third, Lorenzo Cain picked him up by grounding a single through the right side hole. The hit that plated Kansas City’s second run knocked Hudson from the game. His final line: 6+ innings, six hits, three runs, and one strikeout.
Kansas City didn’t stop there, though. After a double play, they feasted on former Royal reliever Jeremy Affeldt. Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Jarrod Dyson came through with three consecutive run-producing hits, stretching the lead out to 5-0. With Shields on the hill, that was four more runs than necessary, but the insurance runs ensured a bid at a complete game shutout.
The Royals are now 13-4 this season in interleague games, after going just 9-11 in those games a season ago. Their playoff chances have increased from 8% on July 21 to 51% today, according to ESPN.com.
One more stat I can’t put anywhere else: the Royals, despite still being last in the majors with 69 home runs this year, have actually out-homered their opponents in their last 54 games, 43-41. They were out-homered 58-28 in their first 61 games of the year.
Oh, and in case this whole thing wasn’t exciting enough, Alex Gordon sang into Joel Goldberg’s microphone after the game. I’m sure the video is on the MLB website, but in case you didn’t see it, I’ll leave it at this – American Idol is not in Alex Gordon’s future. He should definitely stick to being an All-Star outfielder for the Kansas City Royals.
Up next: after clinching their sixth straight series win on Saturday night, the Royals will go for the sweep on Sunday behind Danny Duffy (6-10, 2.39 ERA). He will be opposed by Tim Lincecum (9-7, 4.22), in what is the best matchup for the Royals on paper in the series.
The Hunt for Blue October is officially on. The Royals have the attention of the entire league – especially the Detroit Tigers. With the league’s easiest schedule ahead of them, everything is eerily lining up for the best October Kansas City has had in the last three decades, and it’s not because of the Chiefs.
If the season ended today, the Kansas City Royals would be in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the season doesn’t end today, but the excitement the Royals have created in Kansas City is very real. Behind Jeremy Guthrie’s eighth career complete game, the Royals swept the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night with a 6-2 win.
The victory, coupled with the Blue Jays’ 2-1 loss to Baltimore earlier in the afternoon, vaulted the Royals into the second wild card spot. Meanwhile, Detroit lost at Yankee Stadium, closing their AL Central lead to just 2.5 games.
Guthrie (8-9) won his third straight start in style, firing the team’s first complete game of the season. He was tagged for two early runs, which wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been considering he allowed seven hits in the first three innings.
After that, though, he was literally lights-out. He retired the final 19 hitters of the game, never letting Arizona get a glimmer of hope. Wade Davis and Greg Holland both warmed up just in case, but Guthrie made sure both relievers would be rested for the upcoming homestand. He allowed the aforementioned seven hits, all of which were singles, while striking out four and walking none.
It was Guthrie’s fourth complete game as a Royal, all of which have come in last two seasons. His last was an eight-inning complete game in Detroit last September 15th.
The offense provided more than enough support for their starter, continuing their recent showing of maturity. Both times Arizona struck for a run, Kansas City immediately responded by matching the Diamondbacks. After a Mark Trumbo sacrifice fly gave Arizona a 1-0 first-inning lead, Alex Gordon one-upped the opponent the next inning by clobbering a two-run homer off of starter Vidal Nuno (2-8). Gordon’s 10th dinger of the season cruised over the right field wall; his first since June 21.
In the third inning, the Royals executed “small ball” to perfection. Nori Aoki and Omar Infante hit consecutive singles, and followed that with a double steal. Immediately afterwards, Salvador Perez singled them both home with a perfectly placed soft liner just past third baseman Jake Lamb, giving Kansas City a 4-1 lead.
Arizona got one of the runs back in the bottom half of the third on an RBI single by Lamb, his first major league hit. However, the Royals once again responded in the next inning, as Alcides Escobar singled home Lorenzo Cain to push the lead back to a three-run margin. An insurance run was added in the ninth inning when Aoki drove in Escobar with his second hit of the game.
All nine Royals starters reached base. Each starter besides Guthrie reached with a base hit, while the Royals starter got on base in the ninth inning after being hit by a pitch. He went first-to-third on Aoki’s RBI single, narrowly avoiding injury after doing an unorthodox slide into third base. For those of you who haven’t seen it, go watch it here. It’s worth it, I assure you. Somebody needs to stop taking base running lessons from Eric Hosmer.
The win gave the Royals their first sweep since taking three straight from the White Sox back on June 13-15. It ran the club’s team-record road interleague winning streak to eight straight games, and clinched the team’s first road sweep in interleague play since June of 2008.
After the game, manager Ned Yost was clear what the team’s goals are. “We’re not even looking at the second wild card right now. Our focus is on winning the division.”
Winners of 12 of their last 15 games, the Royals will return home this weekend for what’s sure to be a sellout series. Facing the San Francisco Giants, Jason Vargas (8-5, 3.69 ERA) will oppose Madison Bumgarner (13-5, 3.21). Six of the next seven starters that will face Kansas City have playoff experience. It won’t be an easy homestand, but once Kansas City gets past the Giants and the A’s, they will play six consecutive series against teams currently under .500.
I angrily said a month ago that I wouldn’t be going to any more Royals games until they showed me progress. They’ve shown it. I don’t know if they can maintain it, but … I’m sorry, hold on one moment.
I just checked ESPN. Yup, the Royals are in the second wild card position right now. See? This town is fired up. The Chiefs had a preseason game tonight, and they scored 41 points. The talk of the town is still the baseball team. Tomorrow’s Kauffman crowd will be very close if not more than 40,000. 49 games remain, and if the Royals can post the same record as the other teams in the wild card race, they will be in the playoffs. That’s pretty awesome.
Be Royal, Kansas City. For the first time in decades, being “Royal” hasn’t involved screwing everything up, at least as of recent. Let’s see how long it lasts. We’ve seen this movie before, right? We know how it ends, right? Maybe this time we’ll get an alternate ending.
First of all, a huge congratulations is in order for Alex Gordon who collected his 1000th career hit.
It was a night where nothing could go right for the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching, and everything could go right for the Kansas City Royals offense.
The Diamondbacks had a lead over the Royals for exactly 2.2 innings. They scored Jordan Pacheco on an RBI-single by outfielder Mark Trumbo. That would be the only run the Dbacks offense could muster up until the eighth inning. Danny Duffy went five complete innings with seven strikeouts. It was all up to the bullpen after that, and they came though with four solid innings.
“Duffy doesn’t get very much run support.”
I find myself saying that tonight as the Kansas City offense gave Danny Duffy twelve runs to work with. It started with a three-run dinger from All Star starting catcher Salvador Perez, and escalated from there. For the past two games, the fifth inning has been so kind for the Royals. In the past two games, they have scored thirteen runs in the fifth inning. With two on, Billy Butler crushed a two-run home run to left-center field to give KC a 6-1 lead. After Alex Gordon scored on a wild pitch. With the bases juiced, up comes Nori Aoki. Aoki blasted a ball over the right field wall to give Aoki (!!!!) the third grand slam of the season. Yes, as your eyes do a double-take, I did say Nori Aoki. Alex Gordon had the other RBI as he singled in Billy Butler for the twelfth run of the game.
Danny Duffy is now 6-10 with a 2.39 ERA this season. Over Duffy’s last five starts he has allowed four earned runs, and sat down 26 batters. Duffy has shined in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.
Billy Butler and Salvador Perez both had quite the night. They were a combined 7-10 with two home runs, and six RBIs. Over the last seven games Butler is hitting .364/.364/.545. It’s an understatement to say that while Eric Hosmer is out, they really need his bat to step up.
The Detroit Tigers beat the Yankees today, so Kansas City gained no ground there. The Angels and Blue Jays both lost. Kansas City now sits 0.5 games back of the second Wildcard spot, and 4.5 games back of first place in the AL Central.
The Royals will send Yordano Ventura (8-8, 3.50 ERA) to face Josh Collmenter (8-5, 4.07 ERA) for game two of the series at 8:40 central time. Let’s hope they didn’t use all of their offense up for Danny Duffy today, and get some runs for Yordano tomorrow.
It was looking like another game that would require Danny Duffy to throw a shut out just to even qualify for a win.
Danny Duffy made one mistake pitch four innings of Wednesday’s matchup against the Twins. Duffy left a fastball up to Josh Willingham, and he hit it a very long way. Duffy settled down until the fifth inning when he put two on with one out. Ned Yost decided to pull the plug and go to recently acquired Jason Frasor. Frasor would get out of the inning with no damage done.
Danny Duffy pitched a very respectable game: 5.2 innings, one earned run, and four strikeouts. Duffy did give up six walks tonight which elevated his pitch count. Duffy threw 105 pitches, that in which only a little over half of them were strikes. He didn’t have a bad outing, but it’s definitely not what Royals fans are used to seeing.
Danny Duffy now leads the rotation in ERA at 2.42, but is 5-10 this season. Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up. The Royals have given him no run support.
As for the offense tonight, they did not show up until the sixth inning when they decided that it might be a nifty idea to score some runs for their pitcher who just labored through 5+ innings, and only allowed one earned run.
With one out in the sixth inning, Salvador Perez doubled in Omar Infante, and advanced to third on a wild throw by Eduardo Nunez. Alex Gordon then drove in Salvy with a double of his own, as did Mike Moustakas.
The other Twins run was given up by none other than the wonderful (sarcasm) Scott Downs. Downs now has a 5.51 ERA on the year.
Tonight was a very boring ballgame, and I was clearly not entertained. I hope the Royals will do a better job tomorrow when the send Yordano Ventura to the hill to face Kevin Correia.
I will be breaking down all Royals trades right here. That’s assuming if Dayton Moore gets off his rear end and makes a trade. Just please don’t let it be for Emilio Bonifacio.