Well, the Kansas City Royals aren’t making it easy to be a fan, are they? With a 3-8 record through Tuesday and losing to the Detroit Tigers 4-3 while I’m writing this Wednesday night, the Royals are digging themselves into the American League Central cellar. Again.
In 2004, the Royals and former manager Tony Pena came up with the slogan, “Together We Can,” after a surprising 83-79 2003 season. It showed the optimism of a promising 2004 season. However, by mid season “Together We Can” became a punchline and the Royals ended up with a 58-104 record.
This year, the slogan is “Our Time.” But after a six game losing streak, it appears it’s “our time” for the Royals to be the same old Royals. Let’s look at the good (it’s Our Time) and the bad (same old Royals) of the 2012 season.
It’s Our Time: Danny Duffy is pretty good. In two starts, the Royals fifth starter is pitching like a, well, at least a number two or three starter. In two starts, Duffy has a 2.13 ERA with a team leading 15 strikeouts and 12.2 innings pitched. Sure, he gave up two home runs in a loss to the Detroit Tigers and he’s issued five walks. Besides Bruce Chen, he’s doing something the other starters are not: pitching effectively every start.
Same old Royals: Uh, what’s up with Greg Holland? In six games, Holland pitched 6.1 innings, giving up five runs and 10 hits. In 2011, Holland pitched 60 innings and gave up just 13 runs and 37 hits. And he’s giving up these runs when the Royals can’t afford to give up runs. The bright side is he has 10 strikeouts, two walks and hasn’t give up any home runs yet. But so far he’s not the Greg Holland of 2011.
It’s Our Time: Billy is being Billy. As of Tuesday, Butler has a .356/.370/.622 line, leading the team with 16 hits, eight of them for extra bases. He also leads the team with nine RBI. Sure, Butler is a slow runner and he needs to hit more home runs, but he’s a bright spot in a lineup that’s looking a little dim.
Same old Royals: Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer are under the Mario Mendoza line. As of Tuesday, Gordon is hitting .140/.245/.233 and Hosmer is at .182/.280/.364. They’re also striking out a lot, with Gordon at 16 and Hosmer at eight. They are leading the team in taking walks, each with six free passes. But they need to start hitting, especially with runners on base.
It’s Our Time: Alex Gordon is doing well in left field. Where Gordon is struggling at the plate, he’s making it up for his play in left field. He’s made some spectacular catches, including one where he bounced his face on the turf, holding on to the ball. He also leads the outfielders with 23 putouts.
Same old Royals: The Royals sure miss Lorenzo Cain‘s defense. When Cain was playing, he wasn’t hitting well, with only a .133/.176/.133 line. But his play in center was good, getting balls Melky Cabrera probably wouldn’t get. And there was the great catch in Oakland that resulted in a double play and a stint on the DL with a groin injury.
The Royals called up Jarrod Dyson from AAA Omaha and with his speed the Royals started him in center. Well, he was fast, but speed doesn’t matter when you misjudge fly balls and they sail over your head. After two games, the Royals sent Dyson back to Omaha. Now Mitch Maier is starting in center field, who should have been starting there in the first place.
It’s Our Time: It’s early in the season. They have time to figure it out. Over a 162 game season, the Royals have played about ten percent of their games. And if a few things had gone differently in their losses, they might have a chance to win those games, except last Sunday’s game against the Indians. When the Royals pitching is good, the offense struggles. If the offense is good, the pitching struggles. If the Royals get the pitching and offense working together, they will win more games.
Same old Royals: The Royals have no problem losing several games in a row, and they usually play bad in April. Since 2007, the Royals are 55-70 in April. However, except in 2007 (8-18) and 2010 (9-14), the Royals have been around .500 in the other years. Of course the team does have a knack of losing several games in a row and maybe win a few games in a row here and there. When the losing happens early in the season, it magnifies the Royals struggles and gets fans thinking about the Chiefs upcoming season.
The Royals aren’t doing themselves any favors losing six games in a row, with five of them against A.L. Central opponents. If the Royals want to make 2012 their time and not be the same old Royals, they need to get their offense going, stay away from big innings and get Lorenzo Cain back in center field.