Knocked Out: White Sox, Mother Nature Take Out Royals


Most baseball teams don’t aspire to be the bad guys, the team that everyone loves to hate. For years the New York Yankees have held that position in baseball, no matter the makeup of the roster. A week before this series against the Chicago White Sox, the Kansas City Royals were busy making enemies with the Oakland A’s(and vice versa) and the Royals were starting to get the image of a team of hot-heads. Then a series with Minnesota calmed the team down, getting back into the swing of things and extracting revenge on the Twins by beating them. So the last thing really expected by venturing to Chicago is to once again have our baseball inundated with boxing. Yet here we are, with more suspensions and fines to discuss after what was supposed to be a 4 game set in the “Windy City”. So what about the play on the field? Glad you asked. Here is a deeper look into how the Royals lost the series against the White Sox, with a little bit of help from Mother Nature.


Series MVP: Alex Gordon

It was just a matter of time. During the offseason Alex Gordon would have wrist surgery, which also caused him to start Spring Training a bit later than everyone else. So it was no big surprise when Gordon started off the year badly, as he did appear to be 30 or so at bats behind everyone else. Probably also didn’t help that he is a notorious slow starter. So it only makes sense that as April gets close to wrapping up and May is looking to take over that Alex Gordon would start hitting. Gordon was 4 for 12 in this series, with most of the offense coming in Sunday’s game, including his 2nd home run of the year. But this series wasn’t just about the offense for “A1”. No, it was also about his defense, the defense that won him a Platinum Glove Award this past offseason. Sunday alone you saw a diving sprawled out catch in left. Then he made a running catch, immediately wheeling around and throwing Melky Cabrera out at second base for his first assist on the season. Then finally, a catch that hopefully we will see on highlights for years to come. The White Sox Micah Johnson would hit the ball off to the left side, careening towards the stands. Gordon runs over, makes the catch while diving into the stands, landing on a White Sox fan in the second row and holding onto the ball. Go ahead and watch it here, even if you have already seen it. Trust me, it is worth it:

I think I agree with Denny Matthews’ commentary during that inning where he stated that the degree of difficulty on that catch was greater than the Derek Jeter catch where he runs into the stands and comes out bloody. Jeter caught his ball then couldn’t stop his momentum into the stands. Gordon caught the ball while he was diving into the stands, focusing on the ball and stands at the same time. Either way that was an amazing catch and it would probably come as a shock that it would be the beginning of an inning where the White Sox would score 5 runs(which it was). A great series for Alex and hopefully the beginning of a hot streak for him.


Pitching Performance of the Series: Yordano Ventura


Through 5 innings Sunday I was pretty sure this honor would go to Edinson Volquez(again!), but alas he would fall apart in the bottom of the 6th inning after being dominant against the Pale Hose for the first half of the game. Instead it will go to Yordano Ventura, despite the fact that he would be ejected for the 2nd straight start. Before he was tossed for getting into it with Adam Eaton, Ventura had tossed 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs with 1 walk and 8 strike outs. Ventura looked miles better than he did last weekend against Oakland, where he couldn’t find the strike zone and when he did he was pummeled. Not only do the Royals need more starts like this from “Ace”, but they also need him to control his temper so he can stay in the game longer. That leads us to the story of this series…


Again??? Can’t We Just All Get Along?  

There are a few angles to view the fracas that happened at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday night and a lot of what occurred was leftover from the first series of year in Kansas City. If you can remember back to that series, in that first game of the year, Jeff Samardzija had just given up a home run to Mike Moustakas when he would hit the next batter, Lorenzo Cain, on the next pitch. At the time most of us gave Samardzija the benefit of the doubt and we hoped it wasn’t done on purpose. Honestly though, we were pretty sure that pitch was on purpose and might have even been left over feelings from the Wild Card game from last year, one in which Samardzija was a member of the Oakland A’s. There was a lot of blame to go around here, as it appeared as if Samardzija had been yelling from the dugout earlier in the game and Chris Sale had hit Mike Moustakas with a pitch that looked to be an accident, as it hit his shoulder and grazed his jaw. But Eaton yelping at Ventura seemed to set off the youngster and things got ugly fast. The funny thing about this was that almost instantly Moustakas grabbed Yordano and started escorting him toward the dugout, away from the argument. That didn’t stop everyone else from going at it, as the melee ensued. Samardzija seemed to be the most active participate, seemingly going after Cain, as the two of them yelled at each other back and forth. This also got Edinson Volquez to take a swing at ‘Shark’, although he missed his target and was then restrained. There was so much going on that I can’t cover everything here. Here is a better look:

So what set Eaton off? No clue, although there was later mention of him not taking kindly to Ventura ‘quick pitching’ him. If that is so, then Eaton is way out of line. A quick pitch is just a part of the game and if the White Sox feel like that is some kind of ‘unwritten rule’ in baseball then they have proven my point that most of baseball’s unwritten rules are dumb and taking out of context. Whatever the reason, the Royals were in their second major scuffle in less than a week and when the suspensions were handed out over the weekend it appeared that MLB offices did not take kindly to the Royals coming across like the modern day version of the NWO. Ventura got 7 games, Volquez got 5 while Cain and Kelvin Herrera(who I still can’t find anywhere in the rumble) got 2 games. I was a bit shocked that Samardzija got only 5 games for the White Sox, as he seemed to be more the aggressor than anyone else. I was thinking he was more likely to get 10 games, honestly. But the message sent by the Commissioner’s office was plain and simple; knock this crap off or we will continue to punish you and your team. I think the bigger issue is that cooler heads need to prevail. It seemed a bit like Eaton was goading Ventura, and if that is so he needs to ignore it. Teams have figured out now that the Royals have a chip on their shoulder and it isn’t hard to get under their skin. Problem is, once these players start serving their suspensions(and Volquez is serving his right now) that will be time that the Royals don’t have them on the field, which hurts the team. More than anything else this needs to stop for the sake of keeping the main components of this team on the field. It might not always be easy, but it is time for the Royals to turn the other cheek.


Onto the other mayhem from this series:

  • One thing glossed over from Thursday night was how the bullpen for Kansas City was lights out for the rest of that game. Ventura was ejected at the end of the 7th and the game would go 13 innings, which left the Royals bullpen throwing 6 shutout innings. In fact, this pen keeps mowing down batters left and right, which has given them some mind blowing numbers early on:

What is most impressive to me that a few guys seem to getting their feet underneath them, like Ryan Madson and Franklin Morales. Madson seems to be looking like his old, pre-injury self(which could be important later in the summer) and Morales has being throwing gas, showing he is more than just a LOOGY for this team. All this and Greg Holland has been out for over a week now and Luke Hochevar has yet to appear in a game this year. This could be interesting to follow all year, as in just how good this Royals bullpen can be.

  • I’m a bit surprised that 8 innings of Friday’s night game got played. By the 7th inning that field was a mess and in all honesty those players should have been pulled off the field. It made no sense to me, since they could make the rest of the game up over the weekend or the 2 other trips the Royals will make to Chicago this season. This only normally happens when a team is making only 1 trip to that city, which wasn’t the case here. Both teams were lucky that no one came down with a serious injury.
  • Speaking of weather issues, Mother Nature continued to wreck havoc, postponing Saturday’s game and making this 4 game series a 3 game series. The game will be made up in July.

  • Paulo Orlando continues to hit. He went 3 for 3 in Friday nights game and is hitting .289 so far this season. With Alex Rios still out with an injury, it has made manager Ned Yost’s job harder, as he now has to choose from day to day who plays in right field, as Jarrod Dyson deserves playing time as well. Trust me, this is a nice problem to have.
  • It’s early, but Danny Duffy really hasn’t looked like last year’s version of himself. He has only had one start reach the 7th inning and he doesn’t seem to be as efficient as he was last year. His last few starts have been concerning(especially the 5 walks allowed last week against Oakland) as his pitch count has neared 100 by the 5th inning. For the Royals to keep up their pace they are going to need Duffy to be more efficient and pitch deeper into games. Now about that strikeout rate…


So the Royals lost their second series of the season and now sit at 12-6. Kansas City will continue to play within their division, as they have the Indians up next for 3 then the Tigers roll into Kauffman Stadium for a 4 game set starting Thursday. A win of both series’ would go a long way to building up a lead at the top of the division for the boys in blue. Hopefully by next Monday we are looking at a first place team who slayed both Central Division foes. I’ve said it before but man, this division is going to be fun this year. This is just the beginning of a four team race that could go down to the wire.



Drama Free For Three in KC: Royals Down Twins, Win Series


After an eventful weekend at ‘The K’, there was hope as Minnesota came into town that there would be a tad bit more normalcy to kick off a new week for the Kansas City Royals. Luckily, normalcy was the “modus operandi” and the Royals came away with another series win, winning games 1 and 2 in the series while being shutout in game 3 on Wednesday night. Then again, as much as things seemed normal, that doesn’t mean everything made total sense. I mean, this was against the Twins, a team that has caused the Royals fits over the years. Seriously, just last week the Twins ended the Royals winning streak while also delivering Kansas City their first losing series of the season. So it makes sense that things veered a bit off the beaten path when the Twins came to town. With that said it is time to look back at what was.

Mike Moustakas, Christian Colon

Series MVP: Mike Moustakas

When the season started manager Ned Yost inserted Mike Moustakas into the 2 hole in the lineup, a move that got many(myself included) to shake their heads and wonder why. Sure, Moose had a great spring training and was consistently hitting the ball to the opposite field, but we’ve been down this road before; the road where Moustakas has a great spring and elevates our hopes for him for the season. With that said, so far so good when it comes to his new approach at the plate and it continued in this series. Moustakas would go 4 for 13 against Minnesota this week;Chris a homerun in game 2 and 3 RBI’s(including the game winning hit on Tuesday night). Moose also collected a big opposite field double in game 1 that helped get some runs on the board. I still want to see if this new approach will last throughout the long summer, but so far he looks amazing at the plate and has made me start to believe that maybe he is for real. Add in his solid defense and quiet leadership and he might end up being the building block we hoped he was when he was drafted.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals

Pitching Performance of the Series: Chris Young

After a rough outing in Minnesota last week that saw the scoreless streak of the Royals bullpen go up in smoke, Young bounced back this week with a solid 2 innings in Tuesday’s night game where he gave up 0 hits and 0 runs with 1 strikeout, as he picked up the slack of starter Jason Vargas who exited the game in the 6th inning. In fact since Young and Ryan Madson gave up 3 runs in the final game of the series last week against the Twins, the Royals bullpen has yet to give up another run, so another scoreless streak has begun. A nod also goes to Yohan Pino and Edinson Volquez in this series. Pino went 3 scoreless innings on Wednesday night and pushed his scoreless streak to 7.2 innings; it definitely seems as if he is making the case of keeping a roster spot when closer Greg Holland returns from the DL. Volquez had another solid start on Monday night, allowing 5 hits, 1 run, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts in his 7 innings of work. Volquez has easily been the Royals most consistent starter so far this season and has really meshed well in the clubhouse as well. So far the bullpen has been amazing for Kansas City while the rotation has had a few questions early on in 2015.


Other notes from this series:

  • I’ve mentioned the last few years how Jeremy Guthrie is a modern marvel, allowing many a baserunner while letting very few cross home plate, as his numbers seem to defy logic. One wonders if Guthrie has started his regression as he has yet to post a quality start yet in 2015. Guthrie struggled again on Wednesday night, only throwing 5 innings, allowing 6 hits, 6 walks(1HBP) and somehow only 3 runs. The Royals do have options if Guthrie can’t bounce back(Pino, Young) but the preference is to have him rebound and pitch more like he has the last 2 seasons. Guthrie still has this and next year on his contract, so I can’t imagine him being let go or traded if he doesn’t improve. It does appear the Royals will give him a long leash, so an improvement is needed sooner rather than later.
  • Kyle Gibson finally looked human against the Royals on Monday, tossing 5 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 earned runs with 4 walks and zero strikeouts. The Royals seemed a bit more patient with him and that helped provide enough offense to knock him out of the game and take the victory. The Twins hurler has dominated Kansas City in the past but hopefully they have found a chink in his armor, as the team will have to face Gibson a few more times before the season is done.
  • A big kudos going out to Christian Colon and his at bat in the 8th inning on Tuesday night that helped spark the comeback against the Twins. It wasn’t an at bat that will show up in the box score but he worked the count against Casey Fien before eventually grounding out to second base to get Dyson across the plate and tying the game. It was a professional at bat where Colon did what he had to do to help get a run across the plate and not just a wasted out. Colon would also get an RBI double in the 6th inning to help the team keep it close against Minnesota. With second baseman Omar Infante dealing with a groin issue(and with his injury history), the Royals need Colon to be a solid replacement for moments like this. Colon will probably never be more than an average hitter, but he is versatile and plays good defense. Add in a solid bat and you have a guy who could keep a major league job for quite some time.
  • Speaking of clutch hitters, Paulo Orlando continues to impress at the plate for Kansas City. Orlando now has 5 triples on the year and got a big single in that 8th inning on Tuesday night. He would proceed to steal second and put himself into scoring position. Orlando might have had to wait until he was 29 years old to get a major league job, but so far he is taking advantage of his opportunities. To me he has locked himself into a roster spot and is more of a 4th outfielder at this point than Jarrod Dyson is.
  • If we are handing out kudos, a big one also needs to go to Eric Hosmer and his approach at the dish as of late. Hosmer got 6 walks in this series and officially only had 5 at bats. In the last week Hosmer has walked 9 times and despite not driving the ball much he is still getting on base and contributing. We’ve been gushing about Moustakas all season but a little gushing Hosmer’s way is deserved as well.
  • Alcides Escobar returned to the lineup on Monday and was 4 for 12 in this series. There is still a noticeable limp when he runs but he appears to at least not be letting the injury slow down his hitting.
  • The Royals were hit by pitches 2 more times this series. I can promise you neither one was intentional.
  • And Alex Gordon chimed in with his first home run of the season on Tuesday night. I think a hot streak from A1 is just around the corner.


So that is how you extract revenge. The Twins won the series last week and the Royals returned the favor this week. I think the biggest worry so far into this season is the shaky starts from the back end of the rotation, as Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie makes one wonder just when Kris Medlen could contribute to this team. The Royals will now head to Chicago and take on the White Sox, who they swept in Kansas City the first week of the season. Kansas City will continue the tour of the Central Division with 4 in Chicago, then 3 in Cleveland next week before headed home for 4 against Detroit. May is creeping up and our Royals seem to be a contender, one that will be in the race all season. A good series in Chicago would go a long way toward setting up a great matchup next weekend against the Tigers.


Misguided Anger: Royals Win Series Against A’s, Put Target on Their Own Back


When this series started out I had some feel good vibes. Billy Butler was back in town, we would be reminded of the great Wild Card game last year against the A’s and more than anything we were going to see two good teams lock horns. Instead, those vibes left the building early on and by the end of the series I wanted to forget the last 3 days even happened. We will get to the insanity in a moment, but I’d like to bring back a few good feelings first.


Series MVP: Eric Hosmer

A part of me didn’t want to pick anyone, just for the fact that no one really stood out. Friday was a good night for the offense, with 3 batters getting 3 hits apiece, but Saturday the bats were virtually silent and Sunday it took 3/4 of the game to get much going. Yes, the Royals offense this weekend looked more like the 2014 edition of the Royals. That being said, Eric Hosmer had a good series, going 6 for 10, with an RBI, and 2 walks, including a big base on balls in Sunday’s contest that helped fuel the rally in the bottom of the 8th inning. The only downside to his 6 hits was that they were all singles and continues to not really drive the ball much. Hey, I’m glad the guy is starting to find some holes and get on base(both good things), but as a cleanup hitter a few extra base hits would go a long way toward getting his power numbers to get in a upward projectory. All in all a good series for Hos and hopefully one he can grow on with Minnesota coming into town.


Pitching Performance of the Series: Yohan Pino

I would have loved to give this nod to one of the starting pitchers in this series. Unfortunately, all 3 were way off from giving the Royals quality starts. One pitcher that did excel over the weekend was Yohan Pino, who was recalled from AAA Omaha on Saturday to take the roster spot of closer Greg Holland, who would go on the 15-Day DL. Pino would almost immediately be called upon, as he would replace Yordano Ventura in the 4th inning after his implosion set off a number of bad decisions. All Pino would do in his Royals debut is go 4. 2 innings, giving up only 3 hits while walking none and striking out 3. The Royals needed someone to come in and right the ship and Pino did just that. I don’t know how long we will see Pino up with the big league club, but for now he has earned the right for at least a few more outings. Good to see there was at least some good news on the pitching side of things during these 3 games.


There Goes Any Good Feelings I Had This Weekend

I guess it’s time to address the elephant in the room. If anything is going to be remembered from this past weekend, it is the bad blood that boiled over between the Royals and A’s. It all started Friday night as a ball glanced off Kelvin Herrera’s foot and was picked up by Mike Moustakas. Moose would attempt to get Brett Lawrie out at second base, which caused Lawrie to start his slide into second late, catching Alcides Escobar and injuring him. Some feel it was a dirty slide; I tend to agree with Ned Yost on this(Yes, I know. You don’t hear those words from me very often). Let’s let Neddy explain:

The worse thing Lawrie did there was to come in with his spikes up. Once again, I didn’t then nor now feel like there was any bad intentions on Lawrie’s part, nor do I feel like any of it was malicious:

So this led to Saturday night, where most baseball fans felt like Lawrie was probably going to be hit at some point, even if I’m not even 100% for sure he deserved it. In his first plate appearance Yordano Ventura did throw a pitch that was up and in a bit. Honestly, that was good enough for me. Message sent and hopefully we can all just move on from the stupidity of what was an aggressive slide that ended up injuring someone. Instead, after Josh Reddick rocked a Ventura pitch into the right field bleachers, Lawrie would step up to the plate and would get hit by a 100 mph pitch in the elbow. Ventura, obviously upset that his night was soon coming to an end, decided that was the right time for “revenge”. As I sat in the outfield at Kauffman Stadium, listening to the other Royals fans cheer their heads off, all I could keep thinking was that this whole thing was stupid. Fine, stick up for your guy, but if you are going to pay Lawrie back, do it in the first at bat. Otherwise, choosing to do it after giving up a home run makes you look immature and letting your emotions decide your decisions. Obviously, I felt like the weird fan in the crowd who felt like Lawrie didn’t even do anything majorly wrong, or at least not to put up with this circus. By the way, Lawrie did a good job after he got hit of just walking to first base and staying there while the benches and bullpens emptied. It did seem as if at that time he kept the cooler head. Ventura was ejected(rightfully so) and the game moved on. My serious hope was that we were done with all the shenanigans and Sunday’s game would be a contest just about baseball.


Unfortunately, Sunday’s game wouldn’t be any better. In the bottom of the first inning, A’s pitcher Scott Kazmir hit Lorenzo Cain in the foot with a pitch. This led to the Royals bench chirping at Kazmir while the umpires dished out warnings to both teams. I’ve actually heard people say they think Kazmir hit Cain intentionally. Really?

As far as I am concerned, Kazmir went a bit more inside than he wanted and caught Cain’s foot. It happens. There was no reason to eject Kazmir, as it wasn’t done on purpose and a pitcher should still be allowed to pitch inside. Manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland were both ejected, which led to a nice argument between Yost and the umpires, including Yost throwing out his gum(nice touch). Trust me, I like that this team will stick up for each other and have each other’s back, but you have to distinguish between an intentional pitch and a pitch that just got away. Things seemed to be dying down when in the 8th inning Kelvin Herrera would come in, getting a bit inside with his first pitch to Lawrie. On his next pitch, Herrera would throw one behind Lawrie’s back at 100 mph. Amazingly stupid. There was no reason for it and at that point I just couldn’t defend what my team was doing. Herrera would also point to his head, which Lawrie took as he would get one in the head the next time(which is even worse than everything else that happened in this series):

Lawrie did lose his cool after this, and even started arguing with fans near the A’s dugout. Just horribly stupid. This whole thing could have been avoided if everyone would have just focused on playing the game rather than getting into a some macho feud with no actual intention. I call a spade a spade on this one, and the Royals were in the wrong. I get being upset that they have been hit 14 times in the first 12 games of the season, but I look at that as a gift. Other than maybe a couple against Chicago the first series of the season, the rest of the hit by pitches have not been intentional. In fact, these have all been free baserunners for the Royals, many of which helped keep rallies going and helped Kansas City score runs. Yes, it’s not fun to get hit that much, but take the free base and make them pay for doing that. The proper revenge in any of these scenarios is to go out there and get Lawrie out. That is the best revenge.

By the way, welcome back, Billy Butler…


Onto other thoughts from this series(and I am done discussing this feud until the Royals visit Oakland in June):

  • My favorite part of the weekend was Billy Butler getting his American League Championship ring. A lot has been said about Billy the last few years but even at the end he didn’t want to leave. There is something to be said for him wanting to stay in Kansas City.
  • One of the nice things that probably went unnoticed this past weekend was how we started seeing a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to Omar Infante and Alex Gordon and their offensive woes. Infante went 4 for 8 in the series with 2 RBI’s and has pushed his average up to .250. Unfortunately, he also left Sunday’s game with a groin strain so we will see how much action he sees against the Twins. Gordon went 3 for 8, including a 2 hit game on Saturday night. Gordon is still a bit behind because of his wrist surgery this offseason but it is just a matter of time until he starts getting hot.
  • As mentioned earlier in the pitching performance section, the Royals starting pitchers did not have a good weekend. Jeremy Guthrie looked like a batting practice pitcher on Friday, Ventura had control issues on Saturday and Danny Duffy looked very unfocused this afternoon. The offense and bullpen won’t be able to pick this team up every time the rotation falters, so there is a need to see some quality starts as we get closer to May.
  • Closer Greg Holland going on the disabled list is never a good thing, but if there is a preferred time for it to happen, it would be now. The team has plenty of depth, and with Luke Hochevar probably coming back in May it could get even deeper. Hopefully Holland will only be down for a bit and is able to get back to action soon.
  • Erik Kratz not only got into a game, but he appeared in 2 games this week! Kratz got the start on Sunday, but as always, was replaced by Perez late in the game. I know Kratz looked like a guy who hadn’t appeared in a game in 3 weeks…because he hadn’t! Plus, if you don’t allow Perez to get a full day of rest, they are going to be back in the situation they were in late in the seasonlast year, that of Salvy looking tired and his offense suffering. Kratz is not such a bad defender or hitter that a few extra innings of him will cost the Royals any games.
  • Anyone else think Salvy’s hit down the third base line on Friday night was eerily similar to his game winning hit in the Wild Card Game?


Out of all of this mess is has probably been forgotten that the Royals won the series, 2 games to 1. The Royals are sitting at 9-3, a game behind Detroit in the American League Central. The Twins are coming to Kauffman Stadium to kick off a 3 game series on Monday and hopefully the results are different than last week’s trip to Minnesota. Oh, and Kyle Gibson is pitching for Minnesota on Monday, which is not good. Let’s hope the Royals keep their excitement for this series while holding back any deep thoughts of revenge or retribution. Oh, and I’m looking forward to saying ‘Plouffe’ this week. I can neither say nor deny whether or not that Trevor’s name is my ‘safe word’. So onward and upward we go, to a land where we only discuss the baseball played on the field, not the extracurricular activities. Hey, a guy can dream!

Minnesota Wrecking Crew: Royals Lose Game(s) and Series To Twins


We knew this would happen eventually. We knew the Kansas City Royals weren’t going to go the entire year hitting the way they were, dominating they way they were. They went into this series against the Minnesota Twins undefeated and they leave it with their first series loss and one of their regulars on the disabled list. By no means does that mean that skies are gray and there is doom and gloom around the corner. No, all it means is that this team is human and won’t run roughshod over the rest of baseball. In some ways I am glad this happened now, rather than later. The longer this team went out there and dominated the more pressure that would be elevated on this team. Instead, now they can go out there and play like it is just any other day. Trust me, that is a good thing. Now, onto some notes in a series that proves no matter where Minnesota is in the standings, they are a pain in the posterior.


Series MVP: Lorenzo Cain

This actually seems a bit odd since I’m not for sure there was one player who dominated this series, at least for the Royals. Lorenzo Cain though had another good series, going 5 for 11 in these 3 games, with 1 home run, 5 RBI’s and raising his average to .429 on the year. Cain is currently sitting at a 5 WAR for the year and somehow is BAbip has gone even higher than last year, which was moderately ludicrous. What I find interesting early on this series is how Cain’s ground ball to fly ball rate is actually a bit lower so far, and his line drive percentage is up this year(26 to 37%). It is early, so it’s hard to know how much of that he will sustain, but I actually like the idea of him getting more ground balls at this point. Sure, the line drives are great and much preferred over a lazy fly ball which does nothing for a hitter. But Cain has good speed and there will be lots of times that he is able to beat out a grounder for a base hit than the average third hitter in the lineup. Cain has really taken to the third spot in the order and looks more comfortable there than guys like Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon have looked in that spot over the years. It obviously is agreeing with him in the first two weeks of the season.


Pitching Performance of the Series: Edinson Volquez

Raise your hand if you thought Volquez would hold the two best starts the Royals have had this year. Ah, not so fast, naitch. Volquez went out on Wednesday night in his second start of the season and threw a “fantastic” game, throwing 7 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 runs, with 1 walk and striking out 7 in the loss. In fact the only mistake he threw was a 1-2 fastball to Oswaldo Arcia that went over the fence for a 2 run shot and giving the Twins all the runs they needed. Outside of that, his changeup was great, he was keeping the Twins batters off-balance and continued to keep the ball down, a strategy he has been employing since last year in Pittsburgh. Volquez continues to show that if he locates his pitches correctly and keeps the ball down he should have success in Kansas City, with their stellar defense behind him. Oh, and that little worry about his control going into this year? That has almost vanished as he has allowed one sole walk apiece in each start. If he keeps this up he becomes a solid number 3 in his Kansas City rotation.


Revenge Can Be Overrated

On Monday afternoon the Royals were twice hit by Minnesota pitchers, one that grazed Alex Gordon and then one that hit Royals right fielder Alex Rios on the left hand. Rios found out the next day that he has a fracture on that hand and looks to be out indefinitely. Rios had been swinging the bat good early on this year and the Royals have now been hit 12 times in the team’s first 9 games of the season. This has lead many fans to cry in outrage that the team needs to retaliate. To say that is completely ridiculous might be an understatement; it might be stupendously ridiculous. Look, outside of 1 or 2 hit by pitches in the Chicago series, these hits haven’t been done on purpose. In fact, many of them have lead to longer innings for the Royals and more scoring opportunities. If the other team wants to give the Royals a free base, let them, as long as they aren’t throwing at anyone’s head. To some the answer is to hit their batters, but why? So Kansas City then has to pitch with runners on base, just for “revenge”? Come on, lets all be smarter than that. Hitting the other team back solves nothing. The greatest way for revenge is to score that free base runner and make the Royals lead even bigger. To hit back as some kind of payback, well folks, that just isn’t smart baseball.


Other notes from this series:

  • Kendrys Morales had a huge home run in game 2 of this series but otherwise was only 3 for 12. This isn’t to disparage his performance, as much as point out that he has yet to have a horrible series this season. I was worried going into this year we were going to see the 2014 Morales, who was awful. Instead we are a lot closer to the 2013 one who was a very solid hitter. I’ll take that.
  • Kyle Gibson pitched another great game against the Royals Wednesday night, which is starting to become second nature. In fact, if Gibson faced Kansas City 20 times a year, he would probably be a Cy Young Award candidate. In 4 career games against the Royals, Gibson has pitched 26 innings, giving up 4 runs, 6 walks while striking out 18. Oh, and he is 4-0 against the Royals. I think it is easy to say that I hope the Royals can skip seeing him in the series against the Twins next week. Although he would be scheduled for Tuesday…
  • With Rios going on the DL, this opened up a roster spot for Terrance Gore to come up to the main roster. For those wondering why Gore and not someone like Brett Eibner, it is actually pretty simple. Gore is already on the 40 man roster, while guys like Eibner and Moises Sierra would have to bump someone off the roster to make room for them. Since manager Ned Yost isn’t a guy who uses his bench much, it makes sense to call up someone who can be used just for pinch running while Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando split the right field duties in Rios’ abscence.
  • Speaking of the bench, only one player remains from the Opening Day roster who hasn’t appeared in a game yet, and that is backup catcher Erik Kratz. Yost has mentioned possibly giving Salvador Perez a day off on Sunday, which is a good thing. Also, by a day off, that means the entire game. Let’s not do the “Oh, it’s the 8th inning so we can put Perez in the game now”. Let the man have a complete day off. Trust me, he has earned it.
  • Mike Moustakas continues to hit to the opposite field and also got a bunt hit the other day when the Twins put the shift on him. It did appear by Thursday that there wasn’t as drastic a shift against Moose, which is a good thing. He was able to rock a double to right center today and if he continues to hit to left it should make it to where teams don’t shift on him as much. Who knew that something as simple as a shift could make Moustakas a better hitter? The real test will be to see if this holds up throughout the next couple of months. Consistency can be a bitch.
  • It was bound to happen eventually; the Royals bullpen gave up a run…or 3. Before Thursday, the pen had thrown 19.1 innings, giving up 7 hits, 3 walks and no runs. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. That came to a crashing halt in the 8th inning on Thursday as Chris Young would give up 2 that inning, thanks to Kurt Suzuki planting one into the left field seats. This doesn’t really diminish this bullpen as much as prove that they aren’t perfect. Now it is just time for them to start a new streak.
  • Speaking of the pen, I want to point out a huge effort put in by Jason Frasor on Thursday. He came into the game in the 4th inning with the bases loaded. He would precede to get a lineout to third, then induced Kennys Vargas to tap the ball back to the mound, making the 1-2-3 double play. A pressure moment for Frasor and he more than excelled in that situation.


So the team now sits at 7-2 on the season and in 2nd place in the American League Central. The Royals will return home this weekend for a 3 game series at ‘The K’ against Oakland. Billy Butler will make his return to Kansas City and should receive a heroes welcome on Friday night. I am hoping to attend the Saturday game and take in my first game of the new season, as long as the rain can stay away. The A’s will also be looking to extract some revenge on Kansas City after the heartbreaking loss in the American League Wild Card game last year(or as I like to call it, one of the greatest games I have ever seen). So it should be a fun weekend at Kauffman Stadium and hopefully Kansas City can take 2 out of 3. After that Minnesota comes into town on Monday for another matchup against the Twins. Things are starting to take off, so hold on. A big week next week could push the Royals back into first place. It’s a long season folks, so strap yourself in.






Broken Halo: Royals Sweep Angels


Series two of the season is in the rearview mirror and it seemed pretty close to a carbon copy of the opening series against the White Sox, as the Royals won all three games, sweeping the Angels. In fact, the series also continued the Royals dominance over Los Angeles, as it probably felt like a reminder to the Angels of last years American League Divisional Series which Kansas City also swept. With that said, lets take a deeper look into the Royals first jaunt to the west coast this year.


Series MVP: Salvador Perez

Like the last series it once again could have gone to a few players, as the offense is just really clicking right now. An admiral nod to Kendrys Morales who has continued to hit, adding a home run against his former team and is up to 4 RBI’s on the season and an OPS+ of 215. A healthy nod as well to both Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas who continued to get on base while Moose hit a massive home run on Saturday night. But to me the real MVP goes to Salvador Perez, who just continues to hit. Salvy hit two more home runs against the Angels while driving in 4 and hitting at a .385 clip and slugging .846 in the series. His 5 hits were big hits and his offensive struggles late last season seem like a distant memory at this point. To add to his offense Salvy has also not allowed a stolen base on the season and guided the Royals to a couple of good pitching performances over the weekend. I don’t know whether or not Perez enjoys hitting near the bottom of the order(as he has so far this season) but offensively it sure seems to be agreeing with him.


Pitching Performance of the Series: The Royals Bullpen

There was nothing wrong with the Royals starters in this series(although I worried about Jeremy Guthrie early on) but the fact we are sitting here a week in and the bullpen hasn’t allowed a run is special. So far in 2015 the Royals bullpen has pitched 16.1 innings and has given up 6 hits, 3 walks, no runs with 17 strikeouts. In fact their K/9 is just under 10 at 9.37. Look, we all know this bullpen is a force to be reckoned with. But they have faced a couple of good offensive teams in the White Sox and the Angels and have shut them down. Chris Young and Jason Frasor got some work in on Sunday and both continued the work that stalwarts like Wade Davis and Greg Holland have been doing since last year. It’s still early but I am of the belief this pen might be even deeper than last year’s squad.


What Was That?

If you watched Sunday’s game you saw a bit of a fracas break out between Angels star Mike Trout and the Royals starter Yordano Ventura. It appeared that earlier in the inning Trout had lined one up the middle, breezing by Ventura’s head and caused Yordano to stare down Trout while he jogged to first base. When Trout scored later in the inning Ventura was backing Perez behind the plate and Trout had a few words directed towards Yordano. This caused Perez to grab Ventura and escort him away from home plate. This caused the benches to empty although nothing happened besides Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella exchanging brownie recipes. So what did Ventura take umbrance with? Who knows if it was the ball coming close to his dome or just the fact Trout got a hit, but it appeared it had more to do with the heat of the moment than anything. In fact I felt it was almost like Ventura not liking that someone got a hit off of him. Yes, it appears dumb but Ventura is young and does seem to get worked up during game action. Personally I didn’t feel like Trout did anything wrong, although he probably could have just kept quiet when he scored and not escalate anything. Chalk it up to adrenaline pumping and possibly even a bit of the Angels being upset a the Royals dominance against them. Hopefully Ventura will remember to stay calm the next time these two teams face off.


Other notes from this series:

  • Speaking of Ventura, he came out of the game with 2 outs in the 6th with a leg cramp. So if you are scoring at home that is 2 games and 2 times he left a game due to a cramp of some sorts. Obviously Ventura needs to stay hydrated and maybe eat some bananas, because most fans quit breathing everytime he has to leave a game due to a physical issue.
  • I mentioned Morales’ great hitting so far in the season and so far Alex Rios has hit as well. Rios got 4 more hits in the Angels series and had a slash line of .308/.385/.692 over these three games. The only thing we aren’t seeing much of his Rios driving the ball but it is early on and hopefully we will see some extra base hits from him in the Minnesota series.
  • On the other part of the spectrum is Alex Gordon and Omar Infante. Infante showed a bit of life in this series with 3 hits and a line of .250/.250/.333 with 2 RBI’s but is still hitting under .200. Gordon has looked like a man who had wrist surgery in the offseason, which he did. Gordon was MIA offensively in this series, going 0 for 7. Like I’ve said, it’s early so I’m not worried about either guy. But at some point it would be nice to see both add to the offensive carnage we have seen so far from Kansas City in 2015.
  • Speaking of Gordon, manager Ned Yost has been resting him on day games after night games to help him bounce back from missing the early part of spring training recuperating from that wrist surgery. That has given backup outfielder Paulo Orlando the chance for two starts and the Brazilian has thanked them by hitting 3 triples for the first 3 hits of his big league career(a major league record). Orlando is a great story as he has been in the minor leagues for 9 years and finally made the big league roster at the age of 29 this year. It’s not for sure how long he will stick with the team but so far he is making the case for keeping him on the roster and giving the team an extra bat off the bench. Congrats to him, as it has been a great story so far.
  • We are 6 games in and Jarrod Dyson has still not appeared in a game. Weird. I expect this sort of stuff out of Erik Kratz, who also hasn’t appeared in a game, not Dyson. I hope this changes soon.
  • Finally, the Royals have been hit by a pitch 10 times so far this. 10 times!!! To say this seems a bit ridiculous would be an understatement. I don’t think any of it is intentional, but it has gotten old. I guess at the end of the day if the other team is willing to give them a free base, the Royals should just take it.


So the Royals are now 6-0 and will take their unbeaten ways to Minnesota to take on the division dweller Twins. So far Minnesota has struggled scoring in 2015 and hopefully the arms of Danny Duffy, Edinson Volquez and Jason Vargas can keep that theme going. The Royals are currently keeping pace with the Tigers at the top of the Central but it would be nice to see them step ahead and leave Detroit looking up at our boys in blue. Just three in Minnesota and then the Royals will return home to Kansas City to face Oakland. It’s early but this Royals team looks a lot like the team we saw in October last year, and that is a good thing.






C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E: Royals Sweep White Sox


The first series is in the books for the 2015 season and the Royals came away with a sweep of division rivals, the Chicago White Sox. One of the big questions being asked all spring was how the Royals core of players would handle the lessons they learned from their playoff experience last fall. Early on it appears as if this team has taken over where they left off in October, with the bravado and swagger they showcased during that special month. In fact they had good reason for that swagger, as there was very little this team did bad in these first three games against Chicago. Time now to breakdown the first three games of the season.


Series MVP: Lorenzo Cain

This seemed rather easy but at the same time there were a number of players who can say they had a stellar first series of the year. Alcides Escobar led the way with 6 hits this, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer and Cain all had 4 RBI’s while Cain and Perez led the way with 9 total bases. What separates Cain though is how big his hits were PLUS the defensive gems he doled out today. Cain hit the go-ahead home run in Wednesday night’s game while knocking in the first run of the game on Thursday. Cain has really adapted to being the third hitter and it appears that health could be the only thing that could get in his way in 2015. The fact that we could name 3-4 players as serious MVP’s of this series says a lot about just how well the Royals offense is clicking right now. No way to determine if they will be able to hit like this fairly consistently, but it does at least give some hope to people like myself who have worried about this offense being worse than it was in 2014.


Pitching Performance of the Series: Edinson Volquez

I was all ready to give this to Yordano Ventura but the honest truth is Volquez had the better outing on Thursday. Volquez’s line says it all: 8 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. Volquez utilized the same philosophy he used in 2014 in Pittsburgh; keep the ball down, let the hitters make contact and let your defense take care of the rest. He was efficient as well, throwing only 95 pitches in those 8 innings and keeping Chicago off-balance for most of the day. If Volquez pitches like this on a regular basis it won’t be hard giving Dayton Moore credit for signing him to a two year deal this past offseason.


Defensive Play of the Series: Lorenzo Cain on Thursday

I mentioned earlier how Cain made two spectacular catches on Thursday. Both were highlight worthy but only one made me gasp:

Trust me, my first thought was worry that Cain was hurt. Luckily he was not and was able to make another sweet grab against the wall later on. The Royals defense sparkled again this series with a plethora of great plays by possibly the best defense in the game.


Other Notes From This Series:

  • The two new members of the Kansas City lineup, Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales had a good series. Rios has an OPS over 1(1.083 to be exact) and has driven in 3 so far while Morales had 3 walks on Opening Day(3!!!) while compiling 2 doubles and 2 RBI’s so far. They don’t have to be the keys to this lineup as much as just produce. They do that and a lot of Royals fans’ worries will go away.
  • For all the talk about the bullpen they really didn’t get much play this series. 8 total innings for the bullpen, no runs and 8 strikeouts for the series is a nice total but goes to show if the starters are on they aren’t as necessary. As always, HDH(Herrera, Davis and Holland) looked unhittable and makes one wonder if we will get a repeat of 2014. At this point no reason to think otherwise.
  • Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have looked good so far. Hosmer seems to have gone to a very light front tap with his foot before striding in and has really made his swing more compact. Moustakas has been hitting the ball the other way and outside of a few popups on Thursday he seems to be cherishing the move to the 2nd spot in the order. It’s early still, but just the fact we are seeing improvements with these two makes me feel a little bit better about them going forward.
  • Danny Duffy seemed a little revved up on Wednesday night. Hopefully they were just ‘first start nerves’ and he can pace himself a bit more going forward. It wasn’t his best start ever but we have seen worse.
  • No Jarrod Dyson so far this season and I can’t decide if that is a good or bad thing. It’s good the team hasn’t needed him as a defensive replacement or as a pinch runner, but he is a valuable weapon the Royals have off of their bench. If we still haven’t seen him by the end of the Angels series I will start worrying then.


Things to Work On…

There was very little the Royals didn’t do good this series. In fact so much so that my only complaint is simply a nitpick and a personal preference. The early inning sacrifice bunts have been aplenty so far. Hey, once or twice, fine, I get it. Most of the time it’s even been the players decision, like Escobar trying to bunt for a hit earlier today. But I just hope this doesn’t become a constant thing. It feels like early on they have been playing for one run instead of looking for the big inning. This seems like more of a thing to do if the offense is struggling and you just want to get a run on the board. The offense is clicking right now, so just let them swing, especially when they are swinging the bat well. Like I said, it’s just a nitpick, nothing more, nothing less. Other than that I have no complaints so far; this Royals team is simply playing good baseball.


So one series down, many more to go. It feels like this season has just been a continuation of how the Royals were playing in October and that they are on top of their game right now. We will see if that continues as the team travels to Anaheim to play the Angels for three this weekend. We will see Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie make their first starts of the new campaign and there is also a good chance we will see former Royal Johnny Giavotella, as he is the Angels new 2nd baseman. Will the Angels avenge their losses to Kansas City in the American League Divisional Series? Or will the Royals continue to dominate Los Angeles and prove to everyone they are for real? Folks, we will know soon enough as game one of that series kicks off Friday night at the ‘Big A’. Let’s hope Kansas City is still undefeated when they travel to Minnesota next week.

2015 Predictions: The Search for More Glory


Last year I waited until the last minute to post my predictions for the 2014 season and ended up guessing 8 of the 10 playoff teams correctly. It was total luck but it also meant I didn’t sit around and hem and haw about what I thought would happen. I went with my gut and it was pretty darn close. So this year will be another short version for predictions. If anything, it will be fun in 6 months to come back here and see how far off I was. Without further ado, here are my 2015 predictions.

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American League East

1. Baltimore Orioles

2. Boston Red Sox

3. Tampa Bay Rays

4. New York Yankees

5. Toronto Blue Jays

If there was a division I would feel comfortable just flipping a coin to guess who would win, this would be it. No team stands out more than another and all have their flaws coming into this season. Baltimore had more subtraction than addition this winter, Boston has pitching questions, Tampa’s offense is meager to say the least, New York is old and Toronto has been bit by the injury bug. If in 6 months we come back here and the standings are completely flipped I wouldn’t be shocked. What was once a powerhouse division in the American League might now be the weakest.


American League Central

1. Cleveland Indians

2. Detroit Tigers

3. Kansas City Royals

4. Chicago White Sox

5. Minnesota Twins

This is always the hardest division for me to pick, as I am heavily biased being a Kansas City Royals fan. That being said I didn’t pick them last year to make the playoffs(oops!) and believe they will fall just short this year. I have a full preview up here if you are interested. This division got a lot better this offseason and I look for it to be a race with 4 teams being in contention for a large chunk of the season. Even Minnesota could be a pain to deal with, although I don’t see them holding up for the entire season. I’m giving Cleveland the nod here, as they were right there near the end of last year and have improved their team going into this season. No matter what, expect a dogfight here in the Central.


American League West

1. Seattle Mariners

2. Oakland A’s

3. Los Angeles Angels

4. Houston Astros

5. Texas Rangers

Speaking of good divisions, you could throw the AL West in as one of the better divisions in baseball. Seattle wasn’t eliminated from the playoff picture until the final weekend of the season and have added offense to their stellar pitching and solid defense. None of us have an idea what Oakland did this past offseason but I am not about to count them out and the Angels should be in the chase as well. The ‘surprise’ team of the American League could very well be Houston, as they’ve got a nice mix of veterans and youngsters that could be better sooner rather than later. All in all this looks like a division that could go down to the wire, unlike last year when Los Angeles ran away with the division.


Wild Card Winners

Oakland and Detroit


American League Championship Series

Cleveland over Baltimore


American League Award Winners

MVP: Robinson Cano

Cy Young: Sonny Gray

Rookie of the Year: Carlos Rodon

Comeback Player of the Year: Shin-Soo Choo


National League East

1. Washington Nationals

2. Miami Marlins

3. New York Mets

4. Atlanta Braves

5. Philadelphia Phillies

After acquiring Max Scherzer, it appears the Nationals have strengthened their rotation and made them almost a lock to win this division. I will say I am highly intrigued to see how Miami does this year, as they have a great group of young talent and are looking to get Jose Fernandez back at some point this year as well. The Mets look as if they could contend as well, especially if Matt Harvey is as good as he has looked this spring. At this point, the Braves and Phillies will round out the bottom of the East, and have a chance of having very forgettable seasons, unfortunately.


National League Central

1. Pittsburgh Pirates

2. St. Louis Cardinals

3. Chicago Cubs

4. Cincinnati Reds

5. Milwaukee Brewers

This might finally be the year Pittsburgh wins the division and doesn’t have to endure another Wild Card game. The amount of young talent on this team makes it really hard not too root for them.  The Cardinals are still a force and the Cubs should be in contention this year, although I would expect 2016 to be the year Chicago management is eyeing as a better chance to be in the playoff hunt. Neither the Reds nor the Brewers are bad teams, but they aren’t at the level of the other 3 teams in the division. Like the American League Central, their National League counterparts should have another division fight on their hands here.

San Diego Padres Photo Day

National League West

1. San Diego Padres

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

4. San Francisco Giants

5. Colorado Rockies

This could be the year for the Padres, as they added some offense to their already good pitching. San Diego’s outfield defense could be questionable, although they also have more than enough defense on the bench to make up for it late in games. The Dodgers will be right there with the Padres, although I’m not for sure what they will get from new shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Arizona, Colorado and San Francisco all look to be on the outside looking in, although I like the D-Backs younger talent and think they could be a bigger pain than many think.


Wild Card Winners

St. Louis and Los Angeles


National League Championship Series

Washington over St. Louis


National League Award Winners

MVP: Giancarlo Stanton

Cy Young: Jordan Zimmermann

Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant

Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Harvey


World Series

Washington over Cleveland in 7 games


So just like that I have thrown myself onto the fire and made my predictions for 2015. I’m sure a few of these we will laugh at in a few months, but the fun of this whole thing is to see just how close you can get. There is a reason that the games are played; if everything was predetermined the season wouldn’t be any fun. This whole thing can get weird in a moment; just as I started writing this Craig Kimbrel was traded to the Padres, which makes San Diego even more of a threat and Atlanta an afterthought. Just like that things can change and make the season even more unpredictable. All we know at this point is the next 6 months will be a blast following baseball’s every last move. I know I am always ready for this time of year. Now if we can just declare Opening Day an official holiday…






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