Well so much for the offensive revival. After the Royals out-slugged the Angels to take two of three, they finish the week at 2-4 after getting swept by the A’s. Nonetheless, there’s a silver lining in all of this. The club still sits at .500 and a few Royals hitters are mashing up the month of May.
Best of the Week: Billy Butler
What a difference a week makes. Big Old Country Breakfast bounced back from last week’s worst to this weeks best including a celebratory 5-for-5, 5 RBI night against the Angels. Butler hit safely in five of six games this week and .480 overall (12-for-25) with a homer and 10 RBI. As a result, Butler’s average has risen 45 points from .228 to .273.
He joins Alex Gordon, who deserves honorable mention this week, as the Royals two hottest hitters. Gordon also hit .480 this week (12-for-25) and now has hit safely in 14 of 16 games in the month of May. Gordon’s current .343 average ties him with Boston’s Dustin Pedroia for third in the American League.
Worst of the Week: A-ced in Oakland
What hurts isn’t so much that they were swept by a struggling team, it’s how they lost. The Royals led late in all three games, but ultimately dropped three straight one-run games. The Royals bullpen, arguably the club’s biggest strength, blew two of those leads in the eighth including Sunday night’s thanks to a 403 foot blast by Yoenis Cespedes.
Kansas City’s bullpen still ranks third in the AL with a 3.07 ERA, so I believe this weekend’s sweep highlights the issue of their struggling offense rather than their pitching. On paper, the Royals lineup is as deep as any in the AL including three players hitting over .300 in Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Salvador Perez.
However, the Royals still rank 13th out of 15 in runs scored (only the Mariners and White Sox have scored less). A lot of the struggles derive from the lack of production from the heart of the order.
Butler appears to have turned things around, but Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are in the midst of a serious slump. They hit a combined 5-for-49 last week, a frightening .102.
The Road Ahead: Eastbound and Down
Kansas City begins a three-game series with Houston on Monday night to wrap up the road trip. Make no mistake, these are games the Royals have to take advantage of if they want to keep pace with Cleveland and Detroit.
They finished off the week with a four-game home series against the Angels.
Probable Pitchers at Houston Astros:
Monday at 7:10 CT: Jeremy Guthrie (5-1, 2.82 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 4.82 ERA)
Tuesday at 7:10 CT: Wade Davis (3-3, 5.98 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (4-4, 4.32 ERA)
Wednesday at 7:10 CT: James Shields (2-4, 2.45 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (1-1, 6.63 ERA)
Probable Pitchers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
Thursday at 7:10 CT: Ervin Santana (3-3, 2.77 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-7, 6.62 ERA)
Friday at 7:10 CT: Luis Mendoza (1-2, 5.50 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (3-3, 3.55 ERA)
Saturday at 1:10 CT: Jeremy Guthrie (5-1, 2.82 ERA) vs. TBA
Sunday at 1:10 CT: Wade Davis (3-3, 5.98 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (3-3, 3.72 ERA)
Follow Adam Rozwadowski on Twitter @adam_roz