The Royals were mocked in the off-season for their moves, but out to an impressive start, it’s clear that teams could learn a thing or two from Kansas City’s free-agency pickups.
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.
Nursing a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, Royals fans watched in horror as a glimpse of the “same old Royals” appeared right in front of them. The Tigers had just beaten the Pirates, meaning Kansas City needed a win to stay in first place. Jarrod Dyson lost a crucial battle with the sun, dropping a seemingly routine fly ball that allowed the tying run to score. In the next at bat, Dyson watched as Alberto Callapso singled home the go-ahead run.
If fans were truly watching those Royals, they would have rolled over and suffered a gut-wrenching loss with little fight.
Fortunately, it’s becoming more and more apparent that these Royals are much different.
Dyson made up for his error by driving home the game-tying run in a huge five-run seventh inning, leading the Royals to a 7-3 victory over the Oakland A’s on Thursday afternoon. Kansas City battled back to take the four-game series against the best team in baseball, earning their 18th win in their last 22 games.
In what’s been a three-week stretch with plenty of comfortable wins, Thursday’s tense game provided fans with a playoff-like feeling.
Both teams plated runs via sacrifice flies early on. In the fourth inning, Mike Moustakas came through with a two-out RBI single to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.
Starter James Shields, coming off of a four-hit shutout, overcame a high pitch count to settle into another solid start. He retired seven straight hitters before Stephen Vogt reached with a two-out single in the sixth inning. It was then when Shields got Josh Reddick to hit into what seemed like a routine fly ball out, until Dyson lost it in the sun. Vogt scored all the way from first on what was officially scored as an RBI triple. In the next at-bat, Callapso blooped a single into right field to give the A’s a 3-2 lead.
In the month of August, Shields has allowed five extra-base hits in 23 innings. Four of them are by Reddick, who broke up Shields’ perfect game with a home run in the sixth inning back on August 3.
It was a flashback into May of 2013, when Shields would put forth solid performance after solid performance, only to receive the loss due to poor run support or defensive collapses. In all, he allowed seven hits and three earned runs, though it’s quite possible the scoring on the Reddick triple will be changed to an error in the coming days. He struck out five A’s while walking one.
The Royals appeared to have a great opportunity to tie the game in the sixth inning when Alcides Escobar reached with a bunt single, and the throw sailed down the first base line. Escobar jogged to second base and appeared to be in scoring position with the heart of the Royals’ order coming up.
However, home plate umpire Hal Gibson called Escobar out, claiming that he was running outside of the baseline to first base. Replay showed that while Escobar was running on the fringe of the infield grass, he didn’t appear to impact the wild throw. Billy Butler would promptly single two at bats later, which likely would have tied the game had Escobar still been at second base. This ignited a shower of boos from the crowd of nearly 21,000.
In the seventh, Kansas City sparked another opportunity. A single and a double by Erik Kratz and Christian Colon put two runners in scoring position with one out. Ned Yost called on pinch hitter Lorenzo Cain to run for Kratz, who was immediately almost picked off third base by reliever Ryan Cook.
After an intense replay, Cain was called safe, and up to the plate trotted Dyson. He fouled off four straight pitches before lining a sharp single through the right side of the infield, plating Cain to tie the game at 3. Just like that, Shields was off the hook for a loss.
The Royals were just starting, though. Nori Aoki came through with a first-pitch ringing triple down the right field line, scoring both Colon and Dyson to give Kansas City a 5-3 lead. Later in the inning, Butler would plate two more runners with a two-out single.
“We laid it all on the line,” Dyson said after the game.
Francisley Bueno, Aaron Crow, and Wade Davis nailed down the seventh and eighth innings. With a four run lead, Yost turned to Jason Frasor for the ninth frame, who quickly worked into trouble by putting two on with only one out. Now an save situation, Yost called on Greg Holland to finish the job, and the All-Star closer got the final two outs to end the game.
Crow (6-1) earned the win. Holland earned his A.L.-leading 36th save of the season. Jeff Samardzija (5-9) took the loss for the A’s; he allowed four runs (three earned) in 6.1 innings.
On August 1, the Royals were entering a “gauntlet” of 13 games. 10 of them would be against winning teams, with seven being against the mighty Oakland A’s. Kansas City responded with a statement-making 11-2 record, vaulting them to first place in the A.L. Central in the process.
The Royals will now play 18 straight games against teams with losing records, beginning with a four-game series in Minnesota on Thursday night. Danny Duffy (7-10, 2.57 ERA) will take on Ricky Nolasco (5-7, 5.90).
Kansas City has shown that they can play with anyone after winning 5 of 7 against the A’s. They now must avoid a letdown against losing teams as we enter the homestretch of the season.
After the game, Yost told the media that Eric Hosmer won’t swing a bat until at least another week. Hosmer was placed on the DL after fracturing his hand on July 30, and was expected to miss between 3-6 weeks.
Greg Holland got his 100th career save tonight in a 4-2 win, so that’s a huge accomplishment for him.
Jason Vargas was very solid over five innings of work, and only allowed two earned runs while striking out five San Francisco batters. Both Giants runs were scored in the third inning when Joaquin Arias doubled in Pablo Sandoval to put San Fran on the board. Matt Duffy singled in Joaquin Arias, and that would be it as far as scoring for the Giants.
Two outfield assists from Nori Aoki really saved the game for the Royals. Aoki’s first assist was to third to gun down Hunter Pence (Hunter Pence can’t parallel park.) His second assist was to home plate to throw out Joaquin Arias.
Kansas City’s scoring got started in the first inning on a two-run home run from Billy Butler. In the sixth inning, Butler added his third RBI of the night when he singled in Omar Infante. Alex Gordon chipped in tonight with an RBI single to score Salvador Perez.
It was a big night for the bullpen. Four innings of shutout baseball with six strikeouts. The quiet acquisition of Jason Frasor was one of the few good ones that Dayton Moore made before the trade deadline. Frasor has now pitched 5.2 innings, and has given up no earned runs, and struck out eight batters. Wade Davis made me feel like I was back in 2012 watching Jonathan Broxton, who always seemed to flirt with disaster every night, but would somehow get out of it.
After the All-Star break, Ned Yost and Dayton Moore said that if there were going to be improvements, it would have to be internally. Billy Butler has provided exactly that. For whatever reason, people still find a reason to complain about it. Yes, there was a base running error tonight, but it didn’t effect the game. Let’s have fun with stats, shall we? As a first baseman this year here are Billy’s stats: .349/.391/.605 with two home runs in 43 at-bats. In 357 at-bats as the team’s DH, Billy is .261/.310/.336 with three home runs. It will be…or should be a tough decision to move Billy Butler back to DH when Eric Hosmer comes back from the DL. If I were the Royals, and I’m not, I would trade Hosmer for an outfield bat, or try to find a James Shields replacement when he leaves.
Shields will be on the hill tomorrow for the Royals. Shields has had two very good starts his last couple trips to the mound, and hopes to continue his success. The Royals will have the tall task of facing Tim Hudson. Hudson this year has a 2.74 ERA, and has a 2.24 ERA in away games this year.
The Royals have won five straight, and tomorrow will go for their sixth series win in a row. I think the Royals are a legitimate playoff contending team, and I hope they can keep on rolling.
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.
Back-to-back games when the Royals scored one run in very important games. The difference? Yesterday’s game was a shutout, and a shutout is a win 100% of the time.
The A’s scored eight runs today, so you can’t tell me that they missed Cespedes…. For today at least. Today, they had no trouble scoring runs against a troubled Royals defense.
At the beginning of the fifth inning, it looked like Kansas City was well on their way to another 1-0 defeat against the newly revamped Oakland Athletics. Jason Vargas cruised through four innings even throwing a perfect game in his first game back after suffering a ruptured appendix three weeks ago.
In the third inning, Kansas City managed a run against Jon Lester on an Alcides Escobar single, a Nori Aoki walk, and two sacrifices by Erik Kratz and Lorenzo Cain. That would be all that the Royals could muster up until the seventh inning when they put two meaningless runs on the board to bring them within five runs.
The fifth inning is what wreaked havoc for Vargas and the Royals, and would eventually boot Vargas from the game. On paper, it says that Vargas surrendered seven earned runs, but Vargy was actually really….good. After a defensive miscue by Billy Butler on an infield pop-up, and two other defensive disasters by Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon, the A’s put eight runs on the board in the fifth inning. Only Gordon’s was ruled an error, which leads to seven earned runs being charged to Vargas.
Aaron Crow gave up the other run. In the last 11 innings pitched, Crow has given up six earned runs, and is the proud owner of almost a five ERA. What started out as a zero ERA all the way up until May18th is now 3.13 ERA.
I could sit here and tell you all the ‘should’ve, would’ve, and could’ve’ plays that were supposed to happen, but at the end of the day, it’s a loss, and a very inexcusable fifth inning from Royals players.
The Boys in Blue will wrap up the series in Oakland tomorrow starting at 3:05 central time. They will send out ace (or whatever else you would prefer to call him) James Shields to battle against Scott Kazmir. Kazmir is a lefty, so I would expect to see Christian Colon, who came off of the bench today to get the start for Mike Moustakas tomorrow.
The best we can hope for today is the Tigers, Indians, Blue Jays, and Angels all lose. The likely event of all four of those teams losing is not likely.
In the middle of the second inning, I thought the game was over. The Indians had a five run lead, and the offense looked to be dormant. Kansas City started chipping in the third inning, and tied it in the fourth.
Carlos “The One Man Wrecking Crew” Santana, and the Cleveland Indians put a five spot on the board in the second inning.
The inning scoring in the second inning started with a Carlos Santana big fly to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. With two outs, it would appear to the Royals that Guthrie had limited the damage. Alas, the Indians would go on to score four more runs that inning to give starter, Zach McCallister a five run lead.
Kansas City would put one run on in the bottom of the third inning, but the real damage would come in innings four and five. After an Alcides Escobar RBI single to cut the lead to 5-2, Nori Aoki would hit a 2-RBI triple to bring the Royals back within one run. Aoki would dash home on a pass ball.
In the sixth, with Salvador Perez aboard, Billy Butler, for the second day in a row, mashes a go-ahead two-run home run to put the dagger in Cleveland.
Determined to get Jeremy Guthrie his sixth win of the year, Ned Yost sent Guthrie out for his sixth inning of work. Guthrie got two outs in the inning before Yost decided to pull the plug and go to Scott Downs. Downs would finish Guthrie’s inning, and Guthrie would finish with five ER, and four strikeouts through 5.2 innings of work.
With the trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland, Cleveland’s hopes for avoiding a series loss were dwindling. Between the three of them, they allowed one hit, and sat down four Indian batters via the strikeout.
Carlos Santana continues to be a thorn in the side of Kansas City. Santana is 6-11 with four RBIs in the series thus far.
After being benched to start the game tomorrow, Billy Butler has hit two go-ahead two-run homeruns. Both of them were 420+ feet homeruns.
Eric Hosmer continues to sit with a hand contusion after being hit by a Jon Lester pitch in the Boston series. Raul Ibanez and Billy Butler have filled in at first while Hosmer is recovering.
Kansas City will go for the sweep tomorrow against Cleveland. The Royals will send Bruce Chen (2-2, 5.80 ERA) out to the mound to keep their winning streak alive. The Indians will counter with Danny Salazar (2-4, 5.12 ERA) in hopes to avoid a sweep, and fall to three games under .500.
I would not expect a pitching duel with both guys having ERAs over five. I would, however, expect Ned Yost to send his ‘Surrender Sunday’ lineups out to play. Somebody should really tell Ned that those games count too.
Alert the presses: The Kansas City Royals scored seven runs tonight.
Without Eric Hosmer (hand contusion) and Lorenzo Cain (rest) I was afraid that that would be a tall task for Kansas City. Alas, it was not.
Mike Moustakas got the scoring started with a solo homerun in the second inning. The White Sox would rally in the fourth inning with a “Big Donkey” Adam Dunn homerun.
The game would be all Royals after that. The Royals would score six (!!!!!) runs after that. Back-to-back doubles by Billy “The Base-Clogger” Butler and Raul “Too Cool For You At 42” Ibanez started off the Royals four run sixth inning.
With the Royals up 3-1, Jarrod Dyson bunts to score Alcides Escobar, and according to the unwritten rules of baseball, you are not allowed to bunt while winning by more than two runs. Mmhhmmm, right.
Omar Infante would sacrifice Nori Aoki in to give KC a 5-1 lead. The scoring outburst would end on a Mike Moustakas two-run bomb to give the Royals a seven (!!!!) run lead.
In short: Mike Moustakas took a good, long look in the mirror, and decided that he can hit balls over the wall not just during BP.
The Royals still lack in one (more than that) department: We still left 14 guys on base. Since the start of the ‘second-half’ the Royals have left 41 men on base.
Before the game, Dayton Moore was interviewed. You know what that means: Writing material for Royals writers everywhere. I’ll give you the gist of it: Our (Dayton and Ned) success is tied together. We’ve got a lot of holes, but we aren’t going to change.
It isn’t exactly word for word, but it’s pretty close. I’m not sure what part of any of those statements actually make sense. You haven’t made the playoffs in either of your tenures. You are also one game under .500 with the current guys on your roster, but you’re convinced that these are the guys that will get your to the playoffs. Crazy, right?
A huge congratulations to Bruce Chen is in order, I think. Bruce Chen has now tied Mariano Rivera for all-time Panamanian wins leader.
The Royals will send James Shields to the hill tomorrow in the rubber game against Jose Quintanna. Quintanna is winless against the Royals in his career, which probably means we’ll lose tomorrow.