After just a horrendous month of July, the Kansas City Royals start off the month of August on a good note. A sweep, after a bad road trip and an even worse 30 days, is exactly what the Royals needed to get them back on the winning side of the game of baseball. With timely hitting and some pretty good pitching the Royals started the month of August with two momentum shifting wins.
The month of July ended with the Royals trading their closer Jonathan Broxton to the Cincinnati Reds for two pitching prospects. The prospects look to be a good return for a guy that would, it seems, only be a Royal for two months. Turning a two month closer into two guys who may or may not make it to the majors seems to be very welcoming by fans in Kansas City. In the trade the Royals received Class AA right-handed starter J.C. Sulbaran and Class AAA lefty reliever Donnie Joseph. Joseph seemed to be the straw that broke to camels back in the trade. A guy who by all accounts is a strike out king who may pair well with fellow lefty Tim Collins in the bullpen of the future. Sulbaran projects to be a back of the rotation guy who won a state championship with first basemen Eric Hosmer in 2008 at American Heritage High School in Florida. So the Royals continue to put guys on a team that have won together before and could win together in years to come.
With Broxton gone and Joakim Soria recovering from season ending Tommy John surgery, right handed reliever Greg Holland assumes the role of closer which he stepped into Wednesday night as he got his first save of the season against the Cleveland Indians in a 5-2 Royals victory.
The stand out development of the Royals beginning to the month of August is the benching of both second basemen Yunieksy Betancourt and right fielder Jeff Franceour. The problem with them being on the bench is that they may not see much more playing time since both Chris Getz, who took Betancourt’s spot in the order, and Jarrod Dyson, Franceour’s spot, have taken their opportunity by the reigns and excelled with it. Getz went 3-9 with 4 runs scored and 3 RBI in the three game sweep of the Indians while Dyson went 7-12 with 2 runs scored and two RBI both contributing to run production with stolen bases in the series as well. So the spots that seem to have been lost by the lack of productivity by Betancourt and Franceour have been given away and so far earned with Getz and Dyson.
After a road trip that saw barely any offense outside of designated hitter Billy Butler, the start of the home stand saw a resurgence in the Royal’s offense, scoring 20 runs in the last three games, with the absence of Billy Butler’s bat. Butler having only two hits in the series and only driving in one run. The brightest spot, outside of the fact that the Royals came back from the dumps and have now won three games in a row, of the sweep of the Indians has to be the walk off win the Royals secured on Thursday. After jumping out of the gates with 6 runs in the first, highlighted by a lead off home run by Alex Gordon and a three run shot off of the bat of Eric Hosmer, the Royals and struggling starter Bruce Chen let the Indians all the way back and it took extra innings to seal the win. But it is how they won it in the 11th inning that stands out the most.
After late game at bats in crucial situations that did not see any success, manager Ned Yost had to keep reiterating that the need for shortstop Alcides Escobar to get the experience of late game at bats that could win or lose a ballgame for the Royals club. Well that all came to fruition on Thursday. Escobar has come up with clutch hits late in games all season long but none bigger than his walk off single in the 11th inning. It has been a season of firsts for Escobar after his first multi-homerun game of his life, as he stated, and now his first walk off win in the major leagues. To top all of that off he is having a season at the plate that no one saw coming but it needs to continue.
The Royals have done it once again. They have hooked everyone right back on to what they are doing. Now that does no mean that they have a chance at the division, which would take a Herculean effort from all 25 men on the roster, but they can give us that little tease that gets us all hyped and ready for the 2013 season. Maybe then it will be “Our Time.”