Tag Archive | "Jeremy Guthrie"

The Royals hang on in playoff hunt

When a team like the Royals are in a Wild Card chase, every game is like a playoff game. And when they play six games against two teams ahead of them in the division, it’s important to win those games. In last Friday’s game against the A. L. Central leading Detroit Tigers, the Royals didn’t play well and lost 6-3. They rebounded in Saturday’s game and won 1-0, evening the series. In Sunday’s series finale, the Royals were tied 2-2 through seven and a half innings. Manager Ned Yost made the decision to have Jeremy Guthrie pitch the bottom half of the eighth, who at the time kept the Royals in the game.  But it was a costly decision, with Guthrie giving up a home run to Alex Avila, handing the Royals a 3-2 loss. In a crucial series, the  Royals lost two out of three games to the Tigers. It was a series the Royals really needed to win, but they didn’t.

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Next up, the Cleveland Indians. With their two losses to Detroit, the Royals needed to sweep the Indians to move up in the Wild Card standings. And after their 7-1 victory Monday night, a sweep looked possible. Royals top pitching prospect Yordano Ventura was on the hill for Tuesday’s game and for six innings, Ventura kept the Indians to one run, striking out three and walking two before handing a 3-1 lead the the Royals reliable bullpen.

But the bullpen wasn’t reliable that night. A shaky outing from Kelvin Herrera tied the game at 3-3 and Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar each gave up a run, giving the Royals a 5-3 loss. In a 162 game season, one loss isn’t a big deal. But in a tight Wild Card race, a loss could mean missing the playoffs. Had the Royals won, they would be two games back of the second wild card spot with 11 games to go. Instead, they ended up 3.5 games back. It was a game the Royals needed to win, but they didn’t.

But if there’s a theme for the 2013 Royals, it’s resiliency. With their playoff chances on the line, the Royals came back Wednesday night with a 7-2 victory. While the win keeps their playoff hopes alive, the Royals still have three teams ahead of them in the Wild Card chase, and they’re 2.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. With ten games remaining and an 80-72 record, time and games are running out. But the next three games at Kauffman Stadium are against the struggling Texas Rangers, one of the Wild Card hopefuls. From there, the Royals finish the season on the road against the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox.

With ten games to go and 8.5 games back of the Tigers, the only chance for the Royals to make the playoffs is a Wild Card berth. To do that, they need to win seven or eight games and have key losses from other teams in the Wild Card hunt to make the playoffs. It’s a long shot, but it’s up to the Royals to win their games and make it happen.

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What Went Wrong In Kansas City Royals Sweep?

A hot start after the All Star break had Royals fans dreaming of the postseason. The problem was that the Tigers and Indians matched the Royals’ early success after the midway point. Now, the luster of that hot streak has faded and the Royals have dropped five straight games, including a sweep at the hands of the lowly White Sox. So what happened in the three-game series against the Chicago south-siders? Here is a look at what went wrong:

JustinMaxwell

John Danks continues mastery of Royals
Danks shut out Kansas City over eight innings in the series opener (a 2-0 White Sox win). He scattered seven hits and struck out two Royals. Danks has really struggled this year, with a 2-10 record entering his start against the Royals. But the blue and white of the Royals was a welcome sight for the veteran left-hander. Danks improved to 6-0 in his career against Kansas City over 13 starts. His ERA in those 13 starts is 2.47 and his WHIP is 1.17.

The Royals bats went silent
In the three game series, the Royals scored a total of five runs, with a high of three runs in the series finale. Justin Maxwell‘s double in the opener was the only extra base hit in the series for the Royals, who posted an OPS of .465. Kansas City had a three-game total of 20 hits and hit for a terrible .198 average with 23 strikeouts. They also squandered scoring opportunities, leaving 18 on base.

Good starts were wasted
The Royals starters were solid in the series, but ended up recording a loss in two of the three games. Ervin Santana opened the three-game set with a good performance. He scattered four hits over six impressive innings of two-run ball. Jeremy Guthrie had one bad inning in game two, when he allowed a Dayan Viciedo grand slam as part of a five-run frame. Shields allowed three earned runs over seven innings, with eight strikeouts in a no-decision, before Luke Hochevar gave up a game-winning home run to Conor Gillaspie in the 12th inning.

Addison Reed notches a tri-fecta
In three tight wins, Reed slammed the door on the Royals, with three saves in three games. The talented young closer allowed one hit and one walk over his three flawless innings and struck out three Royals. The three straight saves give Reed 34 on the season on a team with only 52 wins.

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The Red Hot Royals

The Kansas City Royals have caught fire after the All-Star break, winning 11 of 13 games and nine in a row after a 7-2 victory over the Twins on Thursday afternoon. The only problem is that their AL Central foes, the Tigers and Indians, are also red hot. The Indians have won eight straight games and sit 2 games behind the division-leading Tigers. Kansas City is now 6.5 games back.

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Royals fans now have a sense of excitement after the way the team has opened the second half. Keys to the Royals’ second half surge have included:

Stellar starting pitching

Jeremy Guthrie leads the Kansas City rotation with a 3-0 record in the second half. James Shields and Ervin Santana each have two wins. Wade Davis and Bruce Chen both have one win in two starts. Santana has a sparkling 1.21 ERA while Davis isn’t far behind at 1.80. Chen and Shields both have a 2.25 ERA and Jeremy Guthrie’s is the highest of the starters at 4.00. Chen has solidified his spot in the rotation for now and Davis has improved on what was a rough first half of the year.

A lights out bullpen

Four Royals’ relievers have yet to give up an earned run after appearing in at least four games. Luke Hochevar leads the group with 8.1 innings of scoreless relief. Tim Collins and Aaron Crow have 4+ innings without allowing a run and Louis Coleman has 3.2 innings without a run to his name. Not only has the bullpen been great, but they have also excelled in pressure situations, protecting six one-run wins for the Royals. When you combine the starters and the bullpen, Royals’ pitching sports an incredible 2.25 ERA since the break, good for second in the majors, ahead of the Tigers and behind only the Indians.

Mike Moustakas is heating up

Moustakas has struggled for most of the season, but he has recently found his swing. He has a team-leading three home runs and eight RBI in 12 games played in the second half. He even has a .325 batting average, bringing his season average up to .229. Moustakas had the big two-homer game against the Twins on July 30.

Royals batters are hitting for average

Jarrod Dyson is setting the pace for the Royals with a .389 average in 18 at-bats. Four other players are hitting above .300. Billy Butler is at .327, Moustakas and David Lough are in at .325 and Miguel Tejada owns a .313 average. As a team, the Royals are hitting .266, tied for fifth in the American League (up from .256 pre-All Star break).

Greg Holland is shutting the door

Holland has been great all year and has only continued his dominance after the break. He has converted all six of his save opportunities and has allowed only one earned run. Opponents are hitting .280 against the hard-throwing right-hander. If the Royals continue their amazing run, Holland should only have more opportunities to close out tight ball games.

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Kansas City Royals: Still a ways to go

After May, it looked like another typical Royals season. But approaching the All-Star break, the Royals are around .500 and within striking distance of the A.L. Central. It’s a position the Royals haven’t been in since 2003, when they had marquee names like Darrel May, Ken Harvey and Desi Relaford (those were the days). The team is playing better baseball, but they’re not playing good enough baseball.

DaytonMoore

Things are getting better. Eric Hosmer is playing like he should. Jeff Francoeur is gone and signed with the San Francisco Giants. Fan favorite Johnny Giavotella has the chance to be the everyday second baseman. Greg Holland is one of the best closers in baseball. The outfield is solid with All-Star Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, David Lough and Jarrod Dyson. All-Star catcher Salvador Perez is the cornerstone of the team and he’s only 23 years old. The offense is waking up. Yes, the Royals are the best they’ve been in years.

But there’s still a ways to go. Besides James Shields and Ervin Santana, the starting rotation is hit-or-miss. One start, Jeremy Guthrie is great, another start he’s lousy. Wade Davis is failing as a starter and Luis Mendoza is back in the bullpen, with Bruce Chen taking his place. The bullpen doesn’t have a go-to guy for the eight inning. Inconsistent reliever Kelvin Herrera spends too much time on I-29 shuffling between Kansas City and Omaha. Giavotella is the everyday second baseman, but after seven games he’s at .208/.269/.292. Mike Moustakas isn’t where he needs to be and Billy Butler is at .270/.374/.407, which is almost pedestrian for the Royals designated hitter.

So far, the Royals can’t get to .500. They had a chance against the Yankees Wednesday night, but lost 8-1, and now are two games under .500.

The trade deadline is at the end of the month and the team has to decide if they want to make a trade for a run for the A.L. Central or stay where they are and hope things get better. So far, there’s no real trade rumors, big or small. It depends how the Royals play the next couple of weeks.

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Francoeur had his chance, Giavotella gets another chance

Last Saturday, the Royals cut ties with outfielder Jeff Francoeur, designating him for assignment. Taking his place is infielder Johnny Giavotella, who will get regular playing time at second base.

Johnny-Giavotella

Royals fans clamored for these moves, but it’s too early to tell if they will make a difference. This year, Francoeur spent most of his time on the bench and ended up with a .208/.249/.322 line with three home runs and 13 RBI. Giavotella went three for four with two RBI in his 2013 debut against the Minnesota Twins and went 0-3 with a walk against the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night.

Giavotella will get plenty of playing time at second, with Chris Getz being sent down to AAA Omaha. Giavotella still doesn’t have the defensive prowess of an Elliot Johnson (or Chris Getz for that matter), but he does have offense, something desperately needed in the Royals lineup. Giavotella didn’t make the most of his opportunities at second base the other times he was on the team, but with Getz in Omaha, Giavotella will get an opportunity to see if he belongs in the Big Leagues.

As for Francoeur, it was a move that needed to be done. He couldn’t find his hitting stroke and with David Lough and Jarrod Dyson playing well, the Royals weren’t doing themselves or Francoeur any favors. The players and the team like Francoeur and he does have leadership qualities, but he wasn’t getting it done on the field. And Francoeur would be the first to admit he wasn’t playing well enough to stay with the Royals.

These moves needed to be done, but there’s still more issues the Royals need to overcome if they hope to become contenders in the A.L. Central. Mike Moustakas is improving with a .218/.279/.326 average, but he still has a long way to go. Wade Davis is 0-3 in his last three starts and Jeremy Guthrie went 1-1 with a no decision. In those games, the Royals went 1-5. Billy Butler is still being Billy Butler, but he isn’t hitting with power, with only one home run in June. Alex Gordon had a rough June with only three extra base hits, but with his grand slam Tuesday night, he appeared to be getting on track again. That is, until Gordon left Wednesday night’s game with a concussion and a hip contusion. Let’s hope Gordon makes a quick recovery.

Given all the Royals troubles this year, they’re still hanging in there. They had a 16-11 June and were 38-42 on July 2, 5.5 games back of the Indians. But they need to do more than tread water. They need to win games and win series to get above .500 and contend.

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I-70 Series Starts Soon

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Beginning on Memorial Day, the St. Louis Cardinals-Kansas City Royals rivalry will be rekindled in the 2013 season with a four-game home-and-home series. The first two games of the series will be played in Kansas City on Monday and Tuesdaywhile the final two games of the series will be played down the road in St. Louis. This unique four-game set is similar to the Battle of the Beltway, which will feature the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals playing a home-and-home.

Entering the weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals had the best record in Major League Baseball and led the N.L. Central. Their pitching staff, which has allowed the fewest runs in the majors, and a potent offense, which has scored the third most runs in the National League, primarily drives this. One of the most pleasant surprises for the Cards has been the performance of Shelby Miller who boasts a 5-3 record with a 1.74 ERA. Entering this year, Miller had only started one game and pitched thirteen career innings, yet has been able to vex opposing hitters so far in 2013.

In the other dugout, the Kansas City Royals will look to continue on their surprising start and shorten the gap in the A.L. Central behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians. Despite dropping four of the last five series, the Royals remain in third place in the division. For the most part the team has struggled to score runs, but has been led by a strong pitching staff. Alex Gordon has been one of the sole bright spots on offense and leads the team in average, home runs, RBI’s, and runs. Pitchers Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, and James Shields headline a staff, which has allowed the second-fewest runs in the American League. Despite boasting a 2-5 record, Shields has a minuscule .96 WHIP to go along with a 2.47 ERA on the year and has been primarily hindered by a lack of run support.

 The first two games of the series in Kansas City currently carry an average price well above the average price for Royals tickets this year ($54). Monday’s Memorial Day afternoon start has tickets going for an average of $80 with a get-in price of $16. This $80 average is 48% above the home season average. Game two’s tickets are currently being sold at an average of $70 with the least expensive tickets costing $15. The prices for these two games are 14% less than the games played in Kansas City between these two teams last year, but are 34% more expensive than 2010, and 38% more expensive than in 2011.

The final two games of the series in St. Louis are going for $42 and $45 respectively. This season, the average price for Cardinals tickets is $68 and the prices for these two games between the teams will be 38% and 34% below that average. Tickets are still readily available for the two games and can be acquired for a low price of $6 for Wednesday and $8 for Thursday. These prices reflect a continued downward trend for tickets in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Royals as the prices are 24% less expensive than 2011 and 16% less expensive from just one year ago.

The battle for the Midwest will feature two teams heading in two different directions. The Cardinals will be seeking to stretch out their divisional lead and improve upon the best record in Major League Baseball while the Royals will be trying to turn around a recent slide which put a damper upon one of the most surprising starts in the majors.

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Kansas City Royals Power Rankings 5-19

It’s week three of the I70 Baseball Royals Power Rankings, as we basically reach the end of the first quarter of the season. This was an up and down week that ended at 2-4. There are many years that 2-4 in California wouldn’t sound that bad and neither would 20-20.

July 8, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) in the dugout during the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

#5 Billy Butler (Previously: NR) Butler finally broke loose with his best series of the season against the Angels. In the series Butler went 8/13 with a home run and 9 RBI. His contact numbers still aren’t on par with his standards but he’s now on pace for 20 home runs and 120 RBI.

#4 Ervin Santana- (Previously: #5) Santana bounced back with an excellent outing against the A’s in what would be one of three wasted gems on the road trip. His control continues to be remarkable and his 1.46 BB/9Ip is fifth in the American League.

#3 Jeremy Guthrie- (Previously: #2) Guthrie finally took the loss that we had been expecting and just doesn’t look quite as sharp as he did earlier in the season. A part of that is just the fact that very few pitchers are as sharp as Guthrie was early all year long. He’ll get a chance to start a new streak this week vs. Houston.

#2 James Shields- (Previously: #3) Shields continues to move up the rankings despite the fact that he simply cannot buy a win right now. After another outstanding start Shields now ranks 6th in the AL in ERA, 8th in Ks, and 3rd in inning pitches. No one that ranks ahead of him in ERA or innings has less than 5 wins.

#1 Alex Gordon (Previously: #1) Gordon’s 4 hit day on Sunday capped off another outstanding week. He’s on pace to break all kinds of Royals’ records including Willie Wilson’s single season hit record of 232. He carries a 7 game hit streak to Houston and has multiple hits in 20 of the team’s first 40 games.

Honorable mention: Salvador Perez- Perez has yet to show much power in 2013 but he’s been hot at the plate the last week. His nine hits on the week raised his average to .307 on a team that struggled mightily at the plate. Perez has still been a beast on behind the plate as well save for the couple of mental lapses we’ve seen this season.

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Royals/Angels: Three To Walk With

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The Royals took two out of three against the Angels and now stand at 20-17, a game and a half back of the division leading Detroit Tigers. In the midst of a nine game road trip, the Royals will now head to Oakland to take on the A’s in a three game set. Here are three things we can take away from the series in Los Angeles (read: Anaheim).

1. Alex Gordon is raking: After going 6/13 with a double against the Angels, Alex Gordon has now posted a scorching hot  .357/.362/.571 line in 58 plate appearances in May.

2. Jeremy Guthrie is who we thought he was: We couldn’t have expected Jeremy Guthrie to win every start, but he certainly fun to watch, having gone nearly a half season’s worth of starts without registering a loss. It appears Guthrie has begun to regress to his career averages, but he’s still going to be a solid starter who will be able to eat innings and will pitch well enough to the Royals in the game and give them a chance to win.

3. It’s time to panic for Mike Moustakas: Struggling mightily coming into the series, Moustakas’ woes continued as he went 1/14 against the Angels, lowering his line to a meager .194/.266/.339 in 139 plate appearances this season. Moustakas hasn’t shown any signs to suggest that he’s going to figure it out anytime soon and the Royals front office should be thinking about other options at third base, if they aren’t already. I assume the front office would prefer to promote from within, so they might consider giving Anthony Seratelli a shot. Seratelli has put up a solid .326/.423/.516 in 111 plate appearances at AAA Omaha this season.

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Kansas City Royals Power Rankings

It’s week two of the I70 Baseball Royals Power Rankings, and to say this week didn’t go well would be an understatement.  The Royals defense was atrocious and their hitting and pitching weren’t too far behind. Let’s take a look at the power rankings through May 12.

JeremyGuthrie

#5 Ervin Santana- (Previously: #2) Santana saw his ERA “balloon” to 2.79 with a couple of mediocre starts this week. The right hander gave up seven runs on 15 hits in 12 1/3 innings of work against the Orioles and Yankees. On the positive side he only walked one in the two starts and now sports a 39-6 K-BB ratio.

#4 Lorenzo Cain- (Previously: #1) Cain was due for a cold streak, and boy did he find one. He was just 4/20 on the week with two walks and five strikeouts. Cain is still amongst the team leaders in most every offensive category, but he only has one RBI in his last seven games.

#3 James Shields- (Previously: #5) Shields moves up in the rankings after allowing two runs over 16 innings in two fantastic starts. The week started off in controversy for Shields when he was pulled after 8 shutout innings against the White Sox. Of course, the bullpen lost that game and set the tone for a treacherous week. Shields now sits at 2-3 with a 2.48 ERA and 53 Ks in 58 innings.

#2 Jeremy Guthrie- (Previously: #3) Guthrie didn’t have his best stuff against his former team, but still managed six innings with only one run allowed. He’s now gone 18 starts without a loss and leads the team with a 2.28 ERA. One concern for Guthrie moving forward is his recent control issues. He’s averaged nearly three walks per outing in his last four starts.

#1 Alex Gordon- (Previously: #4) Alex Gordon responded to being moved to the three-hole with a bang and a hot week rose his average from .306 to .320. The 29 year-old right fielder now leads the team in doubles (8), home runs (6), RBI (28), average (.320), and slugging % (.548). Gordon has been the lone bright spot in an increasingly bad offense.

Honorable mention: Luke Hochevar- Before you throw anything at me, yes Hochevar has been terrible at letting inherited runners score BUT he’s been outstanding outside of that. In 12 1/3 innings, Hochevar has allowed 10 baserunners and struck out 13 batters. He has an ERA of 0.73 and a WHIP of 0.81. If we could simply convince Ned Yost not to bring him in with runners on, Hochevar may actually be an asset.

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The month of May could decide the Kansas City Royals 2013 season

After a good April and keeping up with A.L. Central leading Detroit Tigers, the Kansas City Royals are 3-3 so far this May. But for the rest of the month, they have a tough schedule. They have a game against the Baltimore Orioles, then they play the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros, the Angels again, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Texas Rangers. Except for the lowly Astros and struggling Angels, the other teams are above .500 and possible playoff contenders.

May 2013

Despite this month’s 3-3 record, there’s reasons for concern. So far this month, the Royals have six errors, with four of them committed in their two losses against the Orioles. The usually strong Royals bullpen lost a 2-1 decision to the White Sox Monday night and Luke Hochevar‘s errant pickoff throw to first in Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles led to a 4-3 loss. And in four of the six games played this month, the Royals offense scored three or less runs.

But it’s not all bad. It took until May 8 and 30 games into the season for the Royals to lose three games in a row. Last year, they lost three games in a row by April 14, eight games into the 2012 season. The starting rotation is pitching well, especially Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar are playing well. If Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland cut down their walks and settle into their roles, the defense quits making errors and the offense scores more runs, the Royals could get through May with a .500 or above record. Or they could implode and have losing record. Either way, we’ll know by June 1.

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