It’s only two games. It’s early in the season. It’s Chicago cold and damp compared to the hot, dry air of Arizona. Yes, there’s reasons to not worry about the Royals 0-2 start. But It’s the way they’ve lost those two games which cause concern, even this early in the season.
Opening Day in Chicago. James Shields pitched well, striking out six and giving up eight hits and a home run over six innings, a performance worthy of an ace starter. But Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale was that much better, striking out seven, giving up seven hits over 7.2 scoreless innings, keeping a faltering Royals offense in check on the way to a 1-0 Chicago victory.
The hot Royals Spring Training offense cooled off with seven hits, all singles. They drew three walks and had nine strikeouts. There was a glimmer of hope in the Royals ninth, with Eric Hosmer at second with two outs. But the free-swinging Jeff Francoeur hacked at the first pitched offered, a weak groundout to the shortstop to end the game. It’s only one game and 2008 was the last time the Royals won on Opening Day. But the way they lost was troubling, because it was like the way they’ve lost before. But there’s always the next game.
Game two Royals starter Ervin Santana gave up a league leading 39 home runs last season. He has a habit of giving up home runs, but it was another cold day in Chicago, so the long ball shouldn’t be a factor for Santana.
In the second game, Santana pitched six innings, giving up five hits and four earned runs, striking out eight and issuing a walk. Not a bad outing. Oh, I forgot to mention three of the four earned runs were home runs. Maybe it wasn’t such a good outing.
White Sox starter Jake Peavy pitched six innings, giving up four hits, two runs, striking out six and didn’t walk anyone. The Sox bullpen kept the Royals scoreless, giving the Sox a 5-2 victory.
The Royals offense had five hits this time, one of them a double. But the team only walked once and struck out seven times, with a .182 team batting average. Once again, Francoeur was the last Royal to bat in the ninth, but this time he took a called strike before grounding out to the pitcher to end the game. At least Francoeur took a pitch before swinging.
There was a bright spot in both games. In four innings of work, the Royals bullpen struck out three and gave up two walks and a run. By the way, the run was a home run gave up by Luke Hochevar. At least he didn’t give up four or five runs like he usually does, so there’s the bright spot.
It’s only two games in early April. The weather will warm up and so will the Royals. But the same old pattern of losing by not walking, not scoring runs and having the pitching staff give up home runs will test an already frustrated fan base. It makes it too easy to say “It’s the same old Royals.” And last April’s 12 game losing streak is still fresh in fan’s minds. If the Royals win Thursday’s game and play well in Philadelphia, these first two games won’t matter. But if the 2013 Royals play like the 2012 Royals, it’s going to be a long season.