Tag Archive | "Dog Days"

Royals Add Infield Insurance

The Kansas City Royals recent play has them a contender in both the AL Central and the race for a wild card spot. Now playing meaningful games in August and September for the first time in years, the Royals have made several moves recently to add depth to their team as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

Emilio Bonifacio

Kansas City recently placed Miguel Tejada on the 60-day DL. The absence of Tejada coupled with Mike Moustakas nursing a sore left calf led the Royals to make two moves to bolster their infield depth.

First they acquired 12-year MLB veteran Jamey Carroll from the Twins and then they added super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio from the Blue Jays. Both players cost the Royals cash and/or a player to be named later.

Carroll is a light-hitting infielder who started 46 games for the Twins this year and did not hit a home run, while driving in nine runs. Offense is not Carroll’s game, but he does provide veteran leadership and he can fill in at multiple positions on the infield. He is a good defender, even at this time in his career.

Carroll started Tuesday’s game against the Marlins at third base and was 0-4 with one strike out. He also pinch hit in Monday’s game and was 0-2.

Bonifacio is also expected to have a utility role. Like Carroll, Bonifacio can fill in all over the infield. Unlike Carroll, Bonifacio has also logged time in the outfield and can play a corner spot or in center field. Bonifacio doesn’t hit for average (hit .218 with the Jays this year), but he does offer speed. He can steal bases when he gets regular at-bats and can also come into the game as a pinch runner, providing a threat on the bases in late-game situations.

These moves have gone under the radar in baseball circles. However, Royals’ GM Dayton Moore identified a need and got two players without giving up much in return. As the Royals enter the dog days of the season, these acquisitions could loom large. The young Royals have never been in contention and they can learn from veterans Carroll and Bonifacio who have experience on winning teams.

 

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Release of Maier can only signal improvement

Farewell to Mitch Maier.

Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long.

The Royals designated Maier for assignment Thursday, stocking up on pitchers during the dog-days leading up to the All Star Game. It looks like this is the end of the road for Maier, who has spent most of the past six seasons with the big league team.

I actually thought this might happen a couple of years earlier, but Maier just kept hanging around. He played good defense, was a positive presence, and even pitched a few times when the team was in a pinch.

But he just wasn’t good enough. Not for a team that wants to contend.

I take this as a positive sign.

The fact that Maier was on the team at all the last several years told me that the Royals just weren’t any good. But Maier kept working his way onto the roster because the old guys who were supposed to start got hurt, or the young guys weren’t quite ready.

Something must be different now, because the Royals finally deem Maier expendable.

“We’ve got so many young outfielders we want to look at,” said manager Ned Yost about the decision to let Maier go. “He was a great guy to have on your team as your fourth or fifth outfielder. But being mostly left-handed in the outfield, we needed a right-handed bat in [Jason] Bourgeois and we’ve got [Jarrod] Dyson, [Lorenzo] Cain’s coming back soon and we’ve got [Wil] Myers on the horizon.”

The Royals carried just four outfielders into Thursday’s game in Toronto. But Bourgeois can play all three outfield spots, so they seem to be comfortable with a lighter bench. Bourgeois has a much higher ceiling than does Maier, and apparently Cain and Myers could be coming to KC shortly.

To improve as a team, you need to have a roster full of good players. Cain and Myers have more talent in their pinky than Maier has on his best day. To get better, the team has no room for someone like Maier.

I know that sounds harsh. I’ve talked to Mitch Maier, and he seems like a good guy. By all accounts he’s a great teammate. But when someone is described as “the consummate professional,” it’s like saying that a girl has a great personality. Maier was doing all he could with his limited skills, but that girl isn’t someone you invite to the prom.

Good luck Mitch. I hope you land somewhere and continue your career. I’m surprised how many other Royals are able to find a place in the league.

But this move can only be seen as a sign of progress, and it was high time for you to go.

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White House Turns Red

White House Turns Red
(As in Cardinal Red, folks.)

Talk about a “Super Tuesday” — this week members of the 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals met with President and First Lady Obama at the White House.  Notably absent were Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa, perhaps following Yadier Molina’s example just a couple of days earlier, as he skipped the Winter Warm-Up for the second straight year.

President Obama congratulates (most of) the 2011 Cardinals (Photo: Glittarazzi)

Perhaps the potential (real or perceived) awkwardness of Albert being around John Mozeliak and the DeWitts was a factor for Pujols’ lack of attendance.  Personally, I wouldn’t imagine there would be any measurable difference in awkwardness between Albert and his former teammates.  Cards starter, Adam Wainwright cited avoiding a disruption in his rehab schedule as his reason for not attending the event.  Reasons for LaRussa’s absence are still unclear.

We all know someone, many of us know more than one someone, who is so politically motivated that they’d be considered “off the deep end” by the large majority of folks.  I’m not saying anything definitive here, as it’s nothing more than one point of view, but for the three I mentioned, this wouldn’t be their first visit to the White House.  Pujols, Waino, and TLR were all members of that 2006 World Champion team that went to the White House to be honored by Bush.  Bush 43 that is, no Cardinals team was getting anywhere near Bush 41’s Pennsylvania Ave home with those teams.

It’s no secret that Pujols and Wainwright are men of faith, and that their Christianity is very important to them.  You may recall that during a road trip in the dog days of the 2010 season, LaRussa and Pujols took time out of the baseball activities to participate in a Glenn Beck rally in Washington D.C..  Is it possible that TLR and Albert are so staunchly opposed to the current administration’s philosophies that they’d decline participation in such a high honor?  I suppose it isn’t unthinkable.

To me, what’s more intriguing is Yadi’s absence from this year’s Winter Warm-Up.  He cancelled at the last minute last year, citing his daughter being ill.  I’m not certain if a particular reason was given or not for missing this year.  Here’s what I do know: Attending the Winter Warm-Up is something the Cardinals organization deems “optional”.  That said, we’ve all probably had meetings at work that were cut from the same “optional” cloth.  That “we aren’t saying you NEED to come to this optional meeting on Saturday morning, but we’re sure you’ll make the right decision because if you don’t, I wouldn’t bother showing up on Monday morning if I were you”-type of “optional” cloth.

LaRussa would’ve had something to say about this, but ’m not so sure Matheny would, does, or has.  That isn’t to say it’s a good or a bad thing so much as it’s merely one difference in the way we’re seeing the team being managed today.  The friendship between Yadier Molina & Albert Pujols is a well-known one, and if the Pujols camp feels slighted, disrespected, or has other less-than-kind feelings towards the organization, Yadi has probably heard every sordid detail that Dee Dee didn’t even share in her interviews.  I tend to think that most of us would have no problem standing up for our best friend if we felt they’d been mistreated by someone, and if there was a way to send a clear message without being downright obnoxious and/or offensive about it, that’s likely a course we’d take.  Maybe that’s the case with Molina.

Maybe it isn’t.

Maybe it’s true, what we’ve heard, that the Cardinals have not approached Yadi about a contract extension.  He’s playing the 2012 under an exercised club option, but unless extended, will become a free agent at the end of this season.  Matt Morris left the Cardinals to join the San Fransisco Giants in 2005, and you know who went with him?  His good friend, Mike Matheny.  This happens sometimes, friends help recruit other friends to play for the same team.  You think Berkman didn’t talk to Beltran or hasn’t reached out to Oswalt (at least once)?  That kind of thing happens all the time.

Taking a quick peek out west, we find Hank Conger, Chris Ianetta, and Bobby Wilson listed as catchers on the 40-man roster for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Clearly, Ianetta is their guy, at over $3.5MM for 2012, but there’s a $5MM club option for him, and a $250k buyout for the 2013 season.  He’s played 100 games only twice since coming up in 2006, and with 2012 as his age 29 season, it’s reasonable to assume the organization isn’t married to the idea of keeping him around to see if he pans out.  Add to that a former great catcher who values great catching in Mike Scioscia that, by multiple accounts across baseball, “runs that team, not DiPoto”, and it’s possible that Yadi is eyeing greener pastures.

A lot can happen over the course of a season, though.  I wouldn’t even think about starting to count those chickens just yet.

For now, I’m ready to enjoy the last few weeks of this offseason, before the Cardinals head into Spring Training 2012 to defend their World Championship title.  There’s a lot to look back on from 2011 and appreciate, just as was done at the Executive Residence this week.

But, there’s an awful lot to look forward to in 2012!

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Just When I Thought I Was Out…They Pull Me Back In

Michael Corleone must have been a Cardinal fan because he said it better than anyone. In excruciating agony the Cardinals toy with us. We love them in the begining and throughout the season. Then as has been the case the last six seasons, the August-September lull kicks in. Not the grind of the 162 game season, I am referring to the now annual late season Cardinal decline.

Carp Yelling

No one starts looking for their out quite yet, but the world outside of organized crime, rather baseball, becomes more and more appealing heading into Milwaukee August 1st for a three game series the Cardinals were with 3.5 games of first place. August usually marks the official dog days of the season when the grind is in full effect. With 53 games remaining anything is still possible and a pennant race begins.

Entering the August series at Busch against the Brewers the Cards were 3.5 games out with a 57-52 record with a chance to pull within a half game. This would be their best chance to sniff first place since June 9th when the Cardinals were a season best 12 games over .500 and had a 2.5 game division lead and promptly coughed up three in a row and the division.

In what was a crucial three game series the Birds had a chance to put some real distance between themselves and the Brewers. Instead they decided to go another direction. The Cardinals kicked off the dog days in spectacularly disappointing fashion losing all three to Milwaukee and the division lead in the process. One could hear a collective “here we go again” throughout Cardinal Nation.

Five years running the Birds had swooned big time come August and September and this season looked to be no different. Leaving Milwaukee the Cardinals nose dived to long time low of 10.5 games out of first on August 28th. Now was time to panic, time to let go…time to move on.

This was fine with me. It is hard to let go when it’s five or six games. Start getting into double digits and my attention can justifiably turn elsewhere. The Cards dinked and dunked a bit and were still 10.5 out on September 5th. The division was lost and the wild card well out of reach.

Still mathematically alive so much would have to happen for the Cardinals to make a serious run at the wild card. Well wouldn’t you know it all started to fall into place. The Cardinals found their pride while the Braves lost the ability to win.

Cue Michael Corleone and work on your best Al Pacino impression… “Just When I Thought I Was Out…They Pull Me Back In”.

As the Braves lost four in a row and seven of ten. The Cardinals, a team without a five game winning streak all season, won five in a row to pull within 4.5 games of the Wild Card with 15 games left to play. Dammit. I was done, seriously. With six games against Milwaukee and Atlanta sure to be the nail in the coffin it was over. Dammit.

I want off the roller coaster. Just win it all or stop all together. The odds are still heavily stacked against St. Louis but not out of reach. The Birds are back to 12 games over .500 and out of the 14 remaining games only four are against a team with a winning record. We have to accept that it could happen.

Just as I was ready to block Fox Sports Midwest and focus entirely on the Rams the Cardinals have pulled me back in and become must see TV once again. Dammit.

These are just my thoughts…keep on reading and you’ll get up to speed.

Derek is on Twitter @SportsbyWeeze and also writes for the Rams at RamsHerd.com

Also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SportsByWeeze

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Garcia’s Endurance Raises Questions About Future

Let me take you back to the rubber-game of the first I-70 Series this season. The Cardinals sent Jaime Garcia and his 1.68 ERA to the hill in the bottom of the 6th inning with the game and the series in hand. The Cardinals had jumped out to a 7-2 lead in Kansas City, and the team was in cruise-control. The Cardinals’ oft-criticized manager, Tony LaRussa, made a number of questionable decisions that day, including bringing Tyler Greene into the game as a defensive replacement for Allen Craig. Not only was Craig 2 for 2 with a homerun and 2 RBIs in the game, but Greene also made a crucial error, letting an infield pop-up fall to give the Royals a run. I wrote a full article about the game here on i70baseball.com back in May.

Garcia Tired

Though I stand behind most of my criticism in that article, I must offer my apologies to the Cardinals’ manager on my questioning of one decision: taking Jaime Garcia out of the game early.

At the time it seemed ridiculous. Garcia’s 84th and final pitch was crushed over the right field fence to make the game 7-3, and La Russa went immediately to the bullpen. 84 pitches. That’s it. Asking Brian Tallet, Trevor Miller, Ryan Franklin, and Miguel Batista to protect a 4-run lead for four full innings seems as crazy then as it does now, but I understand why the skipper did what he did.

LaRussa was saving Garcia for another day, or really any day in the second-half of the season. Since joining the Cardinals’ rotation last season, Jaime Garcia has hit the ground running from Opening Day through June, but something happens to the Cardinals’ lefty as the dog days of summer wear on. The numbers paint an interesting picture.

2010 2011 2010 2011
ERA in April: 1.04 2.08 Innings: 26 30.1
ERA in May: 1.53 4.23 Innings: 35.1 38.1
ERA in June: 4.50 3.44 Innings: 26 36.2
ERA in July: 2.51 2.51 Innings: 28.2 32.1
ERA in Aug: 2.53 6.84 Innings: 30.2 26.1
ERA in Sept: 5.94 —- Innings: 16.2 —–

Perhaps a more telling stat is this: in 13 career starts in August or September, Garcia has failed to pitch at least 6 innings 8 times. He’s pitched more than 7 innings just once. Since the trade deadline this year, he’s made it to the 6th inning just once in five tries.

The Cardinals know Chris Carpenter’s clock is ticking, and by handing Jaime a $27 million contract, they’ve established him as the team’s future #2 starter behind Adam Wainwright (or at least a #3 starter). The Cardinals him down early last season, and they’re skipping at least one of his starts this season. The Cardinals may be out of the race at this point, but there’s still plenty of things to watch for as the season winds down. And one of, if not the top things should be Garcia’s ability to handle the workload in September. Because if he can’t handle September, how will he handle October down the road?

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Slight Improvments

Coming off the All-Star break losing three of the first four to the Twins is not what you want to do during the dog days of summer. However, coming home and taking two out of three against the Chicago White Sox is a definite boost in confidence to this young team as well as its fans. Despite the fact that the Royals lost their starting shortstop, Alcides Escobar, Friday night after a collision at second base during the fifth inning the team is energized and ready to give a playoff contending team all they can handle this weekend in Kansas City.

Alcides

The Royals were somewhat active in the trading game as the deadline approaches by sending Wilson Betemit to Detroit and bringing in two talented minor league prospects. They also decided it was time to recall a retooled and rekindled Mike Aviles to help give days off to any of the infielders on an as needed basis. Aviles played every day in Omaha at shortstop, but is capable of filling any of the four infield positions when needed.

The Royals offense has cranked it up slightly coming out of the break and is currently ranked fifth in the Majors in batting average, second in stolen bases and third in triples and one of the best stats to have is that they rank near the bottom of the list in terms of team strikeouts. Translation, they are putting the ball in play a lot. This is good for a young team because eventually the hits will come. If they continue to play the game Yost wants them playing, the hits will come.

The Royals defense continues to play solid this year and are second in the MLB in turning double plays, first in range factor and are in the middle of the pack in terms of fielding percentage and catching potential base runners (tied for fourth in CS but 17th in stolen bases allowed).

The pitching did very well this week by not allowing any opponent to score more than five runs in a game. This is definitely a good sign if the starters and the bullpen can maintain this kind of consistency during the second half of the season. The one thing I do find slightly disconcerting is that Aaron Crow and Joakim Soria could be used as trade bait as the deadline approaches. However, for what it’s worth, Dayton Moore has been quoted saying that he does not anticipate the Royals being that active as the month of July closes out.

The Royals need to build some momentum from the end of this home stand before they begin a tough road trip that includes stops in Boston and Cleveland. Cleveland has given the Royals a tough time this year with their up and coming team. The Red Sox currently have the best record in the American League, and are ahead of the Yankees by two and a half games heading into this weekend.

The Royals are way back in the race for the central division. However, they can still play with a lot of pride and make these contending teams struggle all the way until the end of the season. Third place in the Central is a reasonable expectation for them if they play like they did this week.

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Dog Days Give Way To Moose & Hos Days

This past week has seemed like the dog days of summer, even though that phrase is usually reserved for August. It’s usually stupid hot, and the Royals are usually losing at a good clip. Come August we’re tired of both, and ready write off the Royals until March while waiting for that first strong cold front in September.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

This week in a lot of Royals Nation the temps have been near 100. Along with the heat was the humidity, and if you didn’t have humidity you had wind. Likewise, the Royals have dropped 16 of their last 26. Including being swept at home by the worst team in the league; the injury plagued Twins. For me it was my Annual “Ok I’m done with this.” Series

But then I remember: Like the 100 degree days I pine for while driving through snow, I remember that regardless of how bad the Royals are I spent the entire off-season looking forward to the season, not just the month of April. There will be a dark 4 month stretch in the winter where I’ll be looking for this stuff again. There is no sense in wishing either of them away

However, the end of this week brought some relief from the heat. It also brought some news we’ve been expecting since Spring Training. Mike Moustakas has been called up. This brings renewed energy into watching and paying attention to the Royals. “Moose & Hos” will now be in the same Major League line-up.

Mike Moustakas will make is MLB debut 50 miles from his home

The major dynamic Moustakas should add to the line-up is power. In the minors last year Moose had 36 HR in 118 games. I know it’s the minors, but even if there is a drop in production Moose should be a huge addition to the line-up. Especially when looking at previous decades power numbers. You know, what will go down as The Steroid Era? You have to go all the way back to Carlos Beltran in 2003 to find a Royals hitter with more than 25 home runs in a season. Miguel Olivo came close in 2009 with 23. Want to read something that will make you avert your eyes? Yuneski Betancourt lead the Royals in home runs last year with….16. This year the numbers are a little better, but still not good. Moustakas should help with that, and Hosmer has 5 HR in 32 games.

So the youth movement continues. The monotony of the season has been broken up. Hosmer, Moustakas, and the Law Firm of Coleman, Collins & Crow will provide enough bright spots to ignore the historically horrendous starting pitching. That’s a good thing, there are still 99 games left and no NFL waiting at the end.

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May 2 And 3, 1967: Total Domination Of The Cincinnati Reds

The San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates were supposed to battle for the National League Pennant in 1967. At least that was the plan before the season began.

The Cincinnati Reds had a lot to say about that early in the season. They got off to a quick start, leading by as many as 4 1/2 in early June. Eventually their pitching depth would come into play and they would fade during the dog days of summer. The Reds would end up winning 87 games, but would finish 19 behind the Cardinals when all was said and done.

The first meeting between the Reds and Cardinals would be a short two game series in early May. The Reds would come into St. Louis, hoping to make a statement, as well as increasing their lead in the National League standings. The scheduling would be fortunate for the Reds as manager, Dave Bristol, would be able to use his two best pitchers: Jim Maloney (1-0) and Milt Pappas (2-1). Red Schoendienst and the Cardinals would counter with their top two starters: Bob Gibson (3-1) and Ray Washburn (0-2). You could always count on Bob Gibson to give you a good game, but it was a healthy Ray Washburn that gave Cardinals fans the most to cheer about in the early part of 1967.

May 2 – St. Louis 5, Cincinnati 0

In the first game, Bob Gibson was exceptional. The big right hander was never in trouble. Gibson would only give up two hits in this game: a leadoff double to future Cardinal Vada Pinson in the fourth and a single to Leo Cardinas in the fifth. While dismantling the Reds lineup, Gibson would fan 12 and walk 2. From the very first pitch of the game, Gibson overmatched the first place Reds, making a statement of his own.

Jim Maloney

On the other side of the diamond, the Cardinals would put pressure on Jim Maloney all night long. A single by Tim McCarver in the second inning, advancing on a ground out by Mike Shannon would set up the first Cardinal run. McCarver would steal third base and later score on a Jim Maloney wild pitch.

The Cardinals would add three more runs in the fifth inning when Mike Shannon would hit a bases loaded double, scoring all three baserunners. Roger Maris would single in Bob Gibson for the final Cardinals run in the sixth, giving the home team a 5-0 lead.

All in all, a nifty 2 hit complete game shutout for Gibson’s fourth win of the season.

But that’s not the story. That would come 22 hours later.

May 3 – St. Louis 2, Cincinnati 0

When the Cardinals took the field the next night, we expected a rejuvenated Reds lineup to try to earn a split in the short series. What we got was one of the best pitched games of the year by Ray Washburn. Finally healthy after dealing with arm troubles, the newly retooled Washburn kept the Reds off balance all night long. Where Gibson was striking out Reds hitters, Washburn was getting weak ground balls to the infield. When your infield consists of Mike Shannon, Dal Maxvill, Julian Javier and Orlando Cepeda, that is a recipe for success. Like Gibson in the previous game, Washburn would surrender only two hits: a two out single by Pete Rose in the fourth and a two out single by Chico Ruiz in the fifth.

Milt Pappas

Other than a shaky first inning, Milt Pappas was nearly as good as Washburn. The top of the Cards order would manage a small rally in the fourth inning. Just as he had done in the previous game, Mike Shannon would deliver the big blow, a bases loaded single to drive in two runs – the only runs that would be scored in the game.

As the game wore on, Washburn seemed to get stronger and stronger. Forget any hits; in the the last three innings, the Reds would get only a single base runner (on a walk). When they did hit the ball, only two made it out of the infield, both harmless fly outs to Curt Flood. It was also one of the quickest games I’ve ever heard, lasting only an hour and forty minutes.

More important, this game was something Cardinals fans had been waiting to see since 1962, a healthy and dominating Ray Washburn. We would see a lot of this over the next two seasons.

Message delivered

The high flying Reds game into Busch Stadium, hoping to extend their lead. Over two games and just under four hours of baseball, all they managed were four hits. They left St. Louis with their tails tucked between their legs, as they would several more times that unforgettable summer.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at On the Outside Corner. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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Royals Can Find Inspiration in ’69 Opener

You won’t recognize many of the names in the opening day lineup of this team destined for the cellar. But opening day is always glorious, and every team begins the season tied for first. No reason the upstart Royals couldn’t shock the world.

I’m not talking about this opening day, mind you. I’m talking about THE opening day. The first game ever played by the Kansas City Royals, back on April 8, 1969.

Other debuts that year perhaps got more attention – The Brady Bunch and Sesame Street made their TV debut, Nixon debuted in the White House, and humans made their debut on the moon.

Jimi Hendrix would cap off the summer of love at Woodstock, but the Royals got it started at Memorial Stadium. I can’t quite remember it – my mom was only about two months pregnant with me at the time – but 17,688 were there to witness a victory in the first game the team ever played.

I’ve always heard that the Royals were a “model expansion team.” I don’t know what that means, but they spent the first 11 days of their existence in first place. They tumbled during the dog days of summer, but on June 1 they found themselves just four games below .500. Had any of our teams done that well in the past six or seven years, we’d have been ecstatic.

Manager Joe Gordon’s Royals took the field for the first time against the Minnesota Twins, who were no slouch. They won the AL West that year with 97 wins. Their lineup included Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew.

But April 8, 1969 belonged to the boys in blue.

Lou Piniella had played in 10 major league games prior to that day, but had never recorded a hit. But he sparked the team in its inaugural game by going 4-5 with a walk. He doubled in the team’s first ever at-bat and was driven home with a single by the next batter, Jerry Adair.

After setting the Twins down in order in the first, Royals starter Wally Bunker surrendered the teams first run on a homer by Graig Nettles.

Bunker locked horns with Twins starter Tom Hall, holding each team scoreless for the next several innings. The Twins finally broke through with two runs in the sixth. Tom Burgmeier had to come on to relieve Bunker.

The young Royals responded. They rallied for four hits and capitalized on an error. Jim Campanis and Piniella each singled in runs to chase Hall and tie the score at 3-3 after six innings.

Twins reliever Ron Perranoski and Royals reliever Dave Wickersham put out the fire. Finally in the twelfth frame, the Royals brought in Moe Drabowski, who worked a 1-2-3 inning.

The Twins sent Joe Grzenda to the mound for the twelfth, and the pitching that had been so solid finally unraveled. Joy Foy notched a one-out single. That was followed by a passed ball, an intentional walk, a wild pitch, and yet another intentional walk.

With the bases loaded and Foy just 90 feet away from victory, the Twins brought in pitcher Dick Woodson. The Royals countered by sending up pinch hitter Joe Keough.

Keough would play four partial seasons for the Royals, primarily in the outfield or at first base. But in 1969 he would hit just .187 with seven RBIs. In that clutch moment on April 8, 1969, however, he worked a single to right field to score Foy with the winning run.

Amazingly, the Royals would win again the next day by the same 4-3 score, this time going 17 innings. The hero was again Piniella, who singled in the wining run. Gordon’s team kept up their winning ways, staying above .500 until April 28.

There have been many more glorious days since, and the names of Bunker, Foy, Drabowski, and Keough have been forgotten in favor of Brett, White, Leonard, Splittorff, Saberhagen, and so many others.

But on March 31, 2011, no one will be expecting much from the Royals. The experts are already calling for another 100-loss season. Perhaps these Royals can reach back into their history and find inspiration. It’s time to write a new chapter in the team’s history, and to begin paving the way for greatness like the “model expansion team” that ruled the 1970s and 1980s.

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