The guys discuss the frightning numbers that Royals pitchers have been putting up this spring, Brandon Finnigan’s demotion, Alex Gordon’s contract situation, and the apparent loss of Jandel Gustave. They also justify making fun of a handicapped guy.
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.
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.