After a horrific start to the 2012 season at Kauffman Stadium, the Kansas City Royals showed much improvement in their second home-stand against the beasts of the east.
Against the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, the Royals had it all bad pitching with good pitching, timely hitting and then not so clutch hitting. But the most important thing is that they were victorious 4 times. After going 0-10 in their first home-stand the Royals stepped it up quite a bit with the above .500 home-stand ending it at 4-3. Now it is not exactly the best result of a home-stand but the fact that they were able to come home and prove to the fans that they were truly a team and able to win ballgames is the biggest accomplish. I believe that if they would have come home and laid another egg and only won 1 or 2 games the town would have gone nuts, some maybe even hanging the t-shirt jerseys in the closet for the summer. But, just like in all sports patience is a virtue.
The surprise of the home-stand, at least on the mound that is, was the start of the season for Felipe Paulino. Some at the beginning of the season did not want to see Paulino in the Royals’ rotation, and those that did got there wish with Paulino going on the 15-Day Disabled List to begin the season. But once he was given the opportunity to pitch again in Kauffman Stadium he was not going to give his spot back. Yes is was only one start but maybe it was exactly what the pitching staff needed not only for the quality starts that have been lacking so far this season but also the ability to rest the bullpen more with an innings eater like Paulino on the mound. In his first start, he went 6 innings, while only throwing 96 pitches, 59 of which were strikes. He had 6 strikeouts and only 2 walks. Oh yeah and he didn’t give up any runs. If Paulino can continue to be a good back of the rotation guy then his value on this team is unprecedented. When you have pitchers like, Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez, on your staff that cant seem to get out of the fourth inning but once in a blue moon, having a guy that can tell the bullpen take a little time off for tonight is a huge help.
One hitter stood out on the home-stand, even though his hot streak started on the road in Cleveland. After a terrible start Gordon has seemed to found his stride at the plate. He has raised his batting average exactly 100 points since April 24th. To say that he is hot would be about right. Having a four hit game always helps the average this early in the season. The fact that he is now driving in runs not by hitting the ball out of the ballpark but cutting his swing down and getting just base hits is what stands out the most with Gordon. He is just getting base hit after base hit, as the singles come the doubles follow and the big flies follow suit. If he continues playing both in the field and at the plate he will be finding himself playing an extra game at The K around early July.
Fans, our Royals are not fully back but boy does it feel good to have them playing baseball that we all enjoy to watch. Although they had only one more wins than losses in the last seven games, it felt like the baseball that was being played was not only smart and productive but enjoyable. Losing 12 games in a row is never fun but when it is happening without having any good baseball being played that changes is completely. This team needs about a five or six game winning streak and they will be right where they and we all want to be. Right back in the thick of things in a sluggish American League Central.