Once again our roommates here at I70 Baseball are headed off to the post season after a wild month of September. We Royals fans once again get to watch the playoffs with mild detachment. If they’re anything like Wednesday’s epic finale to the regular season we’re in for a treat. However, we may not see a night of baseball like Wednesday for several years. There will be a lot written about that night, and there are not enough superlatives to describe it’s awesomeness.
The season finale was kind of disappointing for the Royals, losing 1-0 to the Wounded Critters err Twins. Putting that game aside I think this Royals team was the most entertaining bad baseball team I’ve watched. Before I switch gears into off-season mode I’d like to highlight what are my most memorable parts of the 2011 Royals season. Notice I said memorable, that doesn’t exactly mean good.
Spring Training: Coming into spring training the Royals were deemed to have the best minor league system in baseball. They didn’t disappoint. The young guys played well in spring training. The Royals won the Cactus League. It was a nice break from losing even if the games didn’t count. Unfortunately, they started the regular season with the only the young guys in the bullpen.
Saturday, April 2nd: This was the only Royals game I attended this year. I live 3 hours from Kauffman Stadium and clearing my schedule enough to get up there becomes difficult. But the games I do attend are big deals. We bought tickets to this game in early March because it also included the Futures Game. Those were the guys we wanted to see anyway, not Hiram Davies. Just so happens the Royals beat the Angels 5-4, and the Futures Game displayed a Mike Montgomery mowing down batters. On that day I was sure he’d have been in the rotation by July. Even though that didn’t happen it was still an awesome day.
The Next Day, April 3rd: Matt Treanor wins the game with a walk off HR in extra innings. The Royals take 3 of 4 from the Angels. The #smallsamplesizebutstill appears on Twitter.
Perfect Game, Perfect Meltdown, April 20th: Luke Hochaver is dealing. You know? He takes a perfect game into the 6th inning. You know? And the 6th inning goes like this for Hochaver: Single, Balk, Double, 5-3 ground out, 4-3 ground out, Balk, single, double, walk, double, and finally a strike out to ends the inning. You know? It becomes a microcosm of Hochaver’s season. You know? Awesome for most of the game, but is susceptible to what becomes known as a “Hochaver Inning”. You know?
The “That’s What Speed Do” Game, April 29th: With the game tied 3-3 in the 8th, Alcides Escobar hits a shallow fly ball to deep short/shallow left. Caught by shortstop Alexi Casilla, Jerrod Dyson tags up at third and is safe at the plate. Royals take the lead 4-3, and eventually win by that score. When asked about the play in the post game interview, Dyson said “that’s what speed do.” Unfortunately, Dyson couldn’t hit well enough to stay with the Royals for the rest of the season. I question weather he remains in the organization for the 2012 campaign.
April 30th: The Royals beat the Twins 11-2, and finish the month of April one game above .500 at 14-13. Good start. Too bad it didn’t mean much
Hosmas, May 6th: Finally, the long awaited MLB Debut of one Eric John Hosmer. Royals fans are excited. Hosmer goes 0 for 2, with 2 walks. Royals lose to the A’s 3-2. But this wasn’t about one game it was about the future.
Royals Visit Yankee Stadium, May 10th-12th: Royals Drop the first game 3-1. In game two Eric Hosmer hits his first home run, and the Royals win in 11 innings. In the third game the Royals take Ivan Nova behind the woodshed in the 2nd inning by putting up a 6 spot. And oh yeah, Eric Hosmer hits his 2nd home run. Royals win 11-5 and take 2 of 3 from the Yankees at the Stadium. I consider this to be the highlight of the season.
More Historical Futility, May 16th: Vin Mazzaro solidifies the David DeJesus trade as terrible by giving up 14 runs in 2.1 IP. Royals lose to surging Cleveland by 18 runs.
Danny Duffy MLB Debut, May 18th: With injuries to Bruce Chen and Sean O’Sullivan; Vin Mazzaro sent to Omaha; Danny Duffy gets his shot at the rotation. Duffy has an OK start: 4IP, 4H, 2ER, 6BB, 4K. He does not factor into the decision. Royals lose to the Rangers 5-4. Danny Duffy will stay with the Royals rest of the season.
Gold Glove Escobar, June 1st: It’s the top of the 8th in a scoreless ball game. The Angels have two outs and the base loaded. Alcides Escobar robs Alberto Callaspo of a base hit in shallow left and throws across the diamond for the put out at first. Escobar had tons of defensive highlights this season, but for some reason this play sticks out to me. Good pick up, that guy. This was also the same game Billy Butler hit a double…until it was reviewed and determined it was a walk-off home run. Royals win 2-0.
Mike Moustakas MLB Debut, June 10th: Mike Moustakas makes his much anticipated MLB debut in Anaheim. Moustakas goes 1 for 3 with a walk. He homers in his next game. He won’t homer again until September. There was a six week stretch that Moustakas looked over matched and lost at the plate. But he worked his way through it, and will be a major league contributor going forward.
#countrybreakfast, July 25th-28th The Royals roll into Fenway Park for a four game set with
eventual AL Wild Card, Boston Red Sox. The first game goes 14 innings, but also includes a long rain delay. The Royals win 3-1. This game ended in the wee hours of the morning. This is when the Twittersphere gave Billy Butler the nickname; Country Breakfast. It is thought to be the first time fans on twitter gave a player a nickname and it stuck. It was even mention on Sports Center.
The Royals get throttled in the middle two games of the series. But Luke Hochaver pitches 7 strong in the series finale. Royals win 4-3 and get out of Boston with a split.
Johnny Giavotella MLB Debut, Aug 5th: Johnny Giavotella was on no ones radar in spring training. In August he replaces the much criticized Chris Getz. He immediately begins hitting. His first game batting line is 2 for 3, 1B, 2B, BB, RBI. We have ourselves a 2nd Baseman.
The Gangs All Here, Aug 10th: I’m not sure what is in store for the 2012 Royals. We know this group of position players is together for several years barring a trade or injury. If they go on to win a World Series I will remember this day as the turning point. Salvador Perez makes his MLB debut. To make room on the roster the Royals make the anticipated release of Kyle Davies. Just so happens the Royals played the Rays on this day. An organization the Royals should try and emulate. Aaron Crow and Joakim Soria combine to give up 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th. Rays win 8-7. This line up stays together for the rest of the season and suddenly the Royals have a potent offense.
Francoeur’s 9-3 Put Out, Sept 7th: There have been over 200,000 major league baseball games played. Most of them are pretty normal. But there are so many of games that a something extraordinary happens often. This was one of those plays. I originally heard this play on the radio. As soon as I got near a computer I looked for the video. Jeff Francoeur has made some spectacular plays in the outfield this year. Whatever his shortcomings at the plate, he entertaining to watch in the field. I’m glad he’s been signed to a two-year deal. Royals mailed in this game, lost 7-0 to the A’s.
Thus brings us to the long cold off-season. It’s been a fun year and I can hardly wait till March when spring training get into full swing. With any luck and some excellent moves by the Royals front office the 2012 season review will take me twice as long, and I’ll have to break it up into two articles.