If you were up for late night and drawn out dramatics this weekend, then the White Sox-Royals series was for you. A rain-out forced the teams into a double header on Saturday night, both games going into extra innings. Sunday’s game featured fatigued players on both sides but the Royals had something in them this weekend that wouldn’t quit until well after the cows came home.
This weekend was baseball at its finest. Two teams refusing to lose and it all coming down to the wire. All three contests were one-run games and this fan wishes he’d had tickets. The grit shown by the Royals gives some hope for the rest of the season and a good starting point for next season. The Royals used the momentum they had from the Cleveland series as fuel for the fire they needed to have for a 31-inning, three game series.
The Royals will travel to Detroit to continue their play against division opponents. The changes in schedule forced some changes in the pitching rotation, but were overcome by a team that still has some fight left in them.
Game 1: Bruce Chen (8-6) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (6-9)
Bruce Chen’s last start was not the prettiest thing if you look at just the numbers, but he was timely in his effective pitches to etch out another win since he replaced Gil Meche in the rotation. He seems to have been following the consistency of Zack Greinke. Both pitchers have pitched well enough for wins or no decisions so far this month. Chen is 1-2 versus the Tigers with an ERA of 6.50. His lone win came this year on June 4th. He lasted five innings, struck out four, while walking three and gave up four hits and two runs. The Royals will need a similar effort from him if they are going to have a chance against Jeremy Bonderman.
Jeremy Bonderman, a member of the Tigers’ American League Championship rotation just a few seasons ago, has been struggling since June. He has only three wins since June 23 and has lost his last three starts, where he is averaging around five innings each. In his last three starts, he has given up fourteen earned runs. However, overall in his career he is been an effective starter against the Royals. He has a record of 9-7 and a modest ERA of 4.43. If the Royals wanted a time to pick on a pitcher that they have struggled against in recent memory, this would be it.
Game 2: Kyle Davies (6-7) vs. Rick Porcello (5-11)
Kyle Davies is coming off an impressive start, arguably the best he has had all season. He pitched seven scoreless innings, but broke down in the eighth. A win here will get him to .500 for the season and show the Royals and Coach Yost that he wants his job next year. His record against Detroit on the other hand is atrocious. He is 2-6 with an ERA of 5.40. In his most recent start against them, he went 6.2 innings while giving up only three runs for a 7-3 victory for the Royals back in early April.
Rick Porcello has been a struggling in his second season in the majors. He has managed just one wining effort in his last ten starts. His most recent start was against the Yankees and he was pounded for six runs on six hits and three walks in only five innings of work. He is 1-1 in his career versus the Royals with an ERA of 4.88. His only start this season against them he lasted six innings and did not earn a decision.
Game 3: Sean O’Sullivan (1-4) vs. Armando Gallarraga (4-5)
Sean O’Sullivan’s last start was washed out this past Friday. This will be his first action against Detroit in his young career. He will need his best stuff in order to contend against Gallarraga who has been a Royals killer during his career as a Tiger.
Armando Gallarraga in his career versus the Royals he has been dominating. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.78. This will be his first start this season against them though. In his most recent start, he pitched seven scoreless innings, while striking out eight versus the Indians. Last season, the Royals batted just .224 against him.
The Royals got timely hitting in the past two series against divisional opponents and they should be able to continue that momentum into this series since their lineup has now been virtually solidified for the rest of the season. The Tigers are batting .268 as a team, but have shelled out twenty-five more home runs than the Royals have this year. If the Royals’ pitching staff keeps the ball down, it will be tougher to for the Tigers sluggers to lift one out.
Some great defensive efforts and consistencies helped the Royals keep the games close this weekend. Lately, if the Royals kept it close, they have found a way to win. Both teams rank near the bottom of the A.L. in fielding percentage but are among the top tier in terms of turning double plays. As I have said in weeks past, play solid defense and you give your team a chance to win.
The Royals’ bullpen has been solid the last six games. In fact, they did not allow a run during the entire doubleheader on Saturday. The team will need some quality innings from the starters in order to give the bullpen a chance to recover. The Tigers staff got a “break” this weekend by facing Cleveland hitting. However, they cannot overlook how the Royals have pieced together a few quality offensive spurts to notch wins against teams that are supposedly better than they are.
The Royals traveled after Sunday’s game and this after playing three straight games in extra innings. The first game will be a test of how much juice they actually have. Detroit is coming off a solid series performance as well, by beating the Indians in three straight. They also have the advantage of not having to travel. If the Royals capture game one, they will have proven to me that they have a strong desire to finish a lot better than they started.