Series Preview: Kansas City Royals @ Anaheim Angels

Defense, or lack thereof, ended up being the deciding factor in the latest match up between the Royals and the Mariners. The Royals offense sputtered as well but one error on Sunday is what ultimately decided the fate of this series. The pitchers stepped up in the second two games of the series allowing only 4 runs, while Greinke was shelled by the Mariners for the first time this year.

The Royals will be back in California for the next three games to face off against the Angels. Last week when the Royals were in California they lost 2 out three to Oakland. However in the series against the Angels just before the All-Star break the Royals took two out of three from the Angels even though they were outscored 14-6. Monday’s game will be the first game between the two teams that Sent Alberto Callaspo out and brought Sean O’ Sullivan in.

Game 1: Sean O’ Sullivan (0-2) vs. Ervin Santana (10-8)

The magic number for O’ Sullivan in this start is going to be six. Six innings that is. In his last start he was cruising until the bottom of the sixth against the Athletics. In fact he held the A’s scoreless up to that point. The Royals need him to go six solid frames in order to allow his team to compete. If he shuts them out for six innings, that’s a bonus. Getting his first win against his former team will be must if the Royals want to go for .500 or better on this road trip.

Ervin Santana has had mixed results against the Royals over his career. He is 4-4 with an ERA of 4.47. He has had some success against most of the current Royals batters. Six of the Royals have an average around .260 or below. On the other hand, despite only .267 against him, Billy Butler has three jacks in fifteen at-bats in his career versus Santana. In his start against the Royals on July third, he went 8.1 innings pitched but took the loss after giving up four earned runs. He is looking to redeem himself for that loss and his most recent one against Baltimore. Against Baltimore he only lasted 3.2 innings while giving up twelve hits and nine earned runs.

Game 2: Bryan Bullington (0-1) vs. Dan Haren (7-10)

Bryan Bullington is replacing Bannister in the rotation for this start and will have a chance to start for the first time since 2008. Bullington has yet to win a game in the majors but was the number one overall pick in the 2002 draft. In three out of his last four appearances out of the bullpen, he did not give up an earned run. At this point in the season, he could be battling for a spot in next year’s rotation.

Haren was one of the players brought to Anaheim to help them catch the Rangers. Since coming over from Arizona he is 0-2 with losses to Boston and Texas while taking a no-decision at Baltimore. His best performance out of these three starts was against Texas. He pitched the complete game but lost it by a score of 2-1. Despite playing in the National League, most of the Royals hitters have faced him at least three times. As a team, they have batted .328 against him but only have two extra base hits.

Game 3: Zack Greinke (7-11) vs. Jered Weaver (11-7)

Greinke’s success against the Mariners this season ran out this past Friday night. The Seattle Mariners came in eager to break his streak of holding them scoreless. He gave up ten hits and six runs. If he is to get back on the winning track he is going to have to do it against a team that he has struggled against in the past. He is 1-4 against the Angels with an ERA of 4.20. On top of that five of the Angels players are batting .300 or better in their career against him. When he is on, he ranks right up there with Sabathia, Lee, and Carpenter. However, staying on from start to start has been trouble for him nearly all year. He faces the ace of the Angels and will need to bring his “A” game in order for his team to have a chance.

Weaver has been one of the most consistent performers on the entire Angels’ roster. His ERA is 2.96. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in his last five starts. Despite this fact he is only 3-2 during this span. In his last start he looked very solid against the Tigers. He struck out nine in seven innings while giving up only one earned run. In his career against the Royals he is 4-4 with an ERA of 2.88. This record includes his win in June against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. He threw seven scoreless innings while giving up only four hits.

Offense:

During this road trip the Royals team average has dropped to .276, which is four points lower than it was at the beginning of the trip. This mark is still nearly twenty points better than the Angels current team average of .257. The Angels do make it up in another category though. They have hit 112 home runs compared to the Royals measly 73.

Defense:

The Royals have lived or died by their defensive play so far this season. An error cost them the Mariners series. Take that error away and they would have been tied 2-2 going into extra innings. The Angels are also familiar with errors being costly. They are coming home after a rough 2-4 road trip that saw them being swept by the Orioles. Like I said in the last series, the defense that makes the least amount of mistakes will give their pitcher the chance to put the game away.

Pitching:

The Royals pitching staff performed well for the most part during the series in Seattle. The starters need to be able to go six or seven solid innings. Greinke and Sullivan have proven they can go that far lets see if Bullington can do the same. The Royals pitching staff was successful last time they were in Anaheim so let’s hope for a repeat performance.

X-Factor:

Both teams are traveling but the Angels are traveling all the way from Detroit. The aces of the staff will face each other in the series finales, which should prove exciting. The Angels’ manger is still playoff hopeful. The Angels lead the season series 4-3 going into this series. In each of those wins, the Royals have held Anaheim to three runs or less. In the four losses, the Royals failed to hold them under five.

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