The Royals are probably thankful that they no longer have to travel to the east coast to play again this season after this week. They did not do so hot in Boston or New York this year but during the four-game set in Tampa Bay probably was the icing on the cake.
The Royals came into Tampa Bay after a .500 home stand against Baltimore and Detroit. They released Kyle Davies, their worst performer in the rotation after going 0-8 in his last ten starts. This freed up a roster spot to call up catcher, Salvador Perez from Omaha. The Royals also were able to welcome back Brayan Pena who just returned from the birth of his second child. If there was not enough news about the Royals’ catchers, Matt Treanor is scheduled for a series of tests that could clear him to play on Sunday.
The young Royals infield continues to struggle to produce consistency on the offensive side of the ball. During the past seven games, they are a combined 24-98 (.245) with 19 strikeouts and only six walks. Not bad considering one player, Alcides Escobar is known chiefly for his defensive contributions to the team.
This talented outfield continues to amaze fans and finally caught some national attention with their arms. Dare I say one of the best defensive units in the entire league? Jeff Francoeur is featured in an ESPN expose about one of his throws from the outfield. According to a written report, he threw the ball 95 M.P.H. to gun a runner out 242 feet away. This feat in and of itself is incredible. Not to be outdone, Alex Gordon is still hitting at or above .300 and set a franchise record with eighteen assists and counting.
What has been a solid core for the Royals this year in the bullpen was not this week. Joakim Soria, Blake Wood and Aaron Crow had poor outings. All three gave up at least one earned run per outing and an opponent’s batting average well over .400. Hochevar continues to improve and Bruce Chen posted two solid outings, including win number seven against the White Sox on Friday night.
After this weekend in Chicago, the Royals are home for a week against two teams that have spent most of the year chasing each other in the American League East. The Yankees come into Kansas City first, with all the many reasons to like them or hate them. They bring on their tails the Boston Red Sox, who currently have a lead on the Yankees by 1.5 games. Both teams are hoping for two things to happen. One they want to sweep the Royals. Second, they want the Royals to sweep the other team.
This would allow the Yankees to reclaim the division lead or Boston to expand their slim lead. However, I believe that the Royals are capable of disappointing both teams. (Disclosure: I do not do this often) I believe the Royals are going to disappoint both teams, not only preventing a sweep, but by actually winning one of the series next week. This would be a huge boost in confidence to this entire team. Especially for the pitching staff who for the most part have been one of the laughing stocks of baseball in terms of effectiveness and talent.