Tag Archive | "Second Game"

It’s only two games, but…

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.

openingday2013

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.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

The Wilmington Blue Rocks and Omaha Storm Chasers play meaningful games in September

It was a short playoff run for the Class High A Wilmington Blue Rocks, who lost two of three games in the Carolina League Division Championship Series last week against the Lynchburgh Hillcats, the Braves High A affiliate.

The Blue Rocks hosted the first game where the Hillcats had a 15 hit attack, 14 of them being singles. The Hillcats scored one run in the first, one in the fifth, two in the eighth and four in the ninth to win the game 8-0. Hillcats starter Gus Schlosser got the win and Blue Rocks starter Brooks Pounders took the loss.

The next two games were in Lynchburg and the Blue Rocks got their revenge with a postseason record 18 hits on their way to a 12-3 game two victory, tying up the series. Rocks starter Jason Adam pitched seven innings, getting the win while Hillcats starter Dimasther Delgato took the loss.

The winner of game three would advance to the Mills Cup Championship Series. The two previous games were blowouts, but game three was tied at 1-1 until the bottom of the eighth inning. Hillcats catcher Braeden Schlehuber smacked a homer on a 3-2 count, giving the Hillcats a 2-1 lead. The Blue Rocks tried to answer in the ninth, but they failed to score and their season came to an end. The Lynchburg Hillcats advanced to the Mills Cup to face the Winston-Salem Dash, the Chicago White Sox High A affiliate.

Meanwhile, the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers played a five game American Conference Championship Series last week against the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate. The winner of the series would play for the Pacific Coast League Championship.

The Chasers took the opening game at Omaha 8-4, jumping to an early 5-0 lead by the third inning. The Isotopes scored a run in the fifth, two in the sixth and a run in the top of the eighth to make the score 5-4. But the Chasers added three runs in the bottom of the eighth to get the win.

The second game in Omaha stared out well for the Chasers, who had a 3-0 lead by the fourth inning. But the Isotopes scored two runs in the sixth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth to get a 5-3 victory and tie up the series.

The next three games would be at Albuquerque, and game three started with a two hour and three minute rain delay and two scoreless innings before the Chasers took a 3-0 lead in the third. They tacked on two more runs in the seventh before the Isotopes scored one run in the seventh and three in the eighth. The Chasers answered with single tallies in the eighth and ninth to win 7-4, one win away from taking the series.

Game four was going the Chasers way, who were ahead 10-3 after the top of the seventh inning and nine outs from the PCL Championship Series. But Royals luck waylaid the Chasers and the Isotopes scored nine runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a 12-10 victory. It was a demoralizing loss for the Chasers, who would have to win game five or go home.

For game five, the Chasers opened a can of whoop and pounded out 16 runs and 19 hits, defeating the Isotopes 16-7. The Chasers had 10 runs on the board before the Isotopes scored a run in the bottom of the fourth. The Isotopes scored six more runs, but so did the Chasers, who won the American Conference Championship Series three games to two. The Chasers would play the Reno Aces, the Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate, for the Pacific Coast League Championship.

The first game of the PCL Championship Series opened Tuesday night in Reno, NV. The Aces opened their own can of whoop, smacking the Chasers around in a 13-1 victory. Chasers starter Jake Odorizzi took the loss, lasting 3.2 innings and giving up nine runs, eight of them earned and four of them home runs. Aces starter Trevor Bauer got the victory, pitching 6.2 innings, giving up an earned run and three hits.

The Chasers will try to bounce back in game two, which began Wednesday night at 9:05 Central time. There’s an off day Thursday, then the series continues in Omaha for game three and if needed, game four and five.

Posted in Minors, RoyalsComments (0)

The Royals won’t make the playoffs, but three of their Minor League affiliates have

It’s easy for Kansas City Royals fans to become cynical when the team is playing yet another meaningless September and likely another losing season. But this year, three of the Royals Minor League affiliates are in the playoffs: the short season Rookie Burlington (NC) Royals, the High A Wilmington (DE) Blue Rocks and the AAA Omaha (NE) Storm Chasers.

The Burlington Royals won the Appalachian League East division 41-25 and played a three game series against the Johnson City Cardinals, a Cardinal affiliate. The Royals won the series two games to one, advancing to the three game League Championship Series against the Elizabethton Twins, a Twins affiliate. The Royals and Twins split the first two games, the Royals winning 3-2 in the first contest and the Twins winning the second game 4-3.

The final game was at Elizabethton and with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Royals were ahead 6-1 and were one out away from winning the championship.

Then Kansas City Royals luck struck the Burlington Royals. The Twins had a walk, a hit batsman scored a run, a wild pitch scored another run and then a three run homer tied the game 6-6. The Royals would get the final out and extra innings would decide the winner of the contest. But in the bottom of the 12th, the Twins got three walks before first baseman D.J. Hicks hit a grand slam, winning the final Appalachian League Championship game 10-6.

It was a crushing loss to the Burlington Royals, but the good news was only 573 people saw the final game and it will prepare the young Royals for disappointment. Yes, I’m cynical, but that’s what Royals fans do.

Class High A Wilmington won the Carolina League Northern division with a 37-33 second-half record. Yesterday the Blue Rocks started a three game Division Championship series against the Lynchburg Hillcats, a Braves afilliate, who was a first-half Northern division winner. The Blue Rocks lost the opening game of the series 8-0 at Wilmington. The winner of the series will face the winner of the Winston-Salem Dash (CWS) and Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX) series for the Carolina League Championship.

The last time the Blue Rocks were in the playoffs was in 2009, when they had players like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella, Louis Coleman, Danny Duffy and Everett Teaford on the team. By the way, the 2009 Blue Rocks lost in the first round of the playoffs against the Hillcats.

The third Royals affiliate to make the playoffs are the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers. The Chasers won the Pacific Coast League title last season and this year they won the American Northern division with a 83-61 record. Yesterday, the Chasers opened a best of five game American Conference Championship series against the Dodgers affiliate Albuquerque Isotopes and as of 10pm Wednesday, the Chasers were ahead 8-4.

The Chasers have top prospects Jake Odorizzi and Baseball America and USA Today Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers, along with solid minor leaguers Irving Falu, Clint Robinson, Mitch Maier and Nathan Adcock. And current Royals Johnny Giavotella, Everett Teaford, Will Smith, Vin Mazzaro, Tony Abreu and David Lough contributed to the Chasers successful season.

If the Chasers win the series, they will face the winner of the Reno Aces (ARI) Sacramento River Cats (OAK) for the Pacific Coast League Championship in a best of five game series.

It’s encouraging, but despite some of the current Royals players having Minor League playoff experience, it hasn’t translated to winning in the Major Leagues. The playoff success of the Royals minor league teams shows the strength of the farm system, but that success hasn’t translated to the Major Leagues yet.

Time will tell if the Blue Rocks and Storm Chasers win their league titles or go down like the Burlington Royals. The Blue Rocks and Storm Chasers have one thing on their side. They aren’t named the Royals. Sorry, I’m being cynical again. But that’s what Royals fans do.

Posted in Featured, Minors, RoyalsComments (0)

Picking up where they left off

So far, the St. Louis Cardinals are making it look easy in 2012. And while no one would say anything in 2011 was easy—maybe when they put Game 7 of the World Series out of reach…maybe—the Cards are playing a lot like they did at the end of last season.

And that’s no small feat, for a couple of reasons. Mike Matheny and his revamped coaching staff may not have been tested with any chess match-type of games, but so far the rookie manager has not made any mistakes either. The Cards are 2-0 facing two different teams in their home openers and against their aces: The Miami Marlins threw Josh Johnson, and the Milwaukee Brewers sent out Yovanni Gallardo. The Redbirds handled them both, and without the benefit of having an ace on the mound either time.

There are a lot of similarities between this year’s squad and last year’s World Champs. The Cards have gotten two really solid starts from their rotation already. The team plays good defense, and the middle of the order is hitting the ball well. Even David Freese looks the same; every time he comes up with runners in scoring position and two outs, he gets a hit. It’s getting to be a shock when he does not. But the 2012 Cardinals are doing some things a little differently, too. They already have three stolen bases this season, and one was (gasp!) while the #3 hitter was up to bat. And for the second game of the season, Matheny trotted out the exact same lineup he used in the first game of the season. It’s almost as if he is just taunting Tony La Russa now…

But the first big test comes Saturday in Milwaukee. Adam Wainwright makes his regular season debut just 13 or so months after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Wainwright will probably be his old self, but his stats at the end of the game will not be the whole story. What really matters on that mound Saturday is how many pitches he’s able to throw before he tires. And then the next story will be how he feels on Sunday. The Cardinals have no idea when Chris Carpenter will be back; they need Wainwright to be the go-to guy indefinitely this season. And that may require him to throw fewer innings based on how he recovers after each start. In the meantime, it will be great to see him on the mound.

The Cardinals are coming out of the gate with guns blazing, but it can’t last. Their stats will fall back down to near their averages. But this is so much like what happened in the 2011 season end and postseason. Imagine that: solid pitching, timely hitting, and good defense lead to wins. Still, the Cardinals have to be careful not to kick back and think they have things in the bag. That is one reason the stolen bases are so significant: they represent a bit of a culture shift. The Cards are exploring new—or, at the very least, expanded—ways to “get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em out” and there is nothing wrong with that.

Couple it with the “never say die” attitude of last year’s team and maybe the Cardinals will be as good as the team that won it all last year. Maybe they will even be better.

Posted in Cardinals, FeaturedComments (0)

2012 Key Players: Moustakas hopes to establish himself in year two

When Mike Moustakas banged a homer in just his second game as a big leaguer, hopes soared. And when he had a .385 average with four walks after four games, it looked like he was on his way to a great rookie season.

Mike Moustakas by Erika Lynn

But things went sour from that point on. By the time September rolled around, you had to wonder if Moustakas could hit big league pitching. He had not homered since his second game and had just 18 RBIs and an anemic .232 average.

But the big third baseman had struggled to adjust at every level, so the Royals stuck with him.

The show Moustakas put on in September is, the Royals hope, a preview of things to come. He batted .352 for the month and popped 4 homers, driving in 12 runs.

We all know what we WANT from Mike Moustakas. We WANT another George Brett. We want 30 homers and 100 RBIs and a .300 average every season.

But rather than talk about how it’s unfair to expect Moose to be George Brett, Royals fans might look around to see what other, mere mortals are doing at third base.

More specifically, Royals fans can ask “What are other teams in the division getting from their third basemen?”

The Royals sights should be set on becoming the best team in the division. They need some of the parts of their whole to become the best in the division. And believe it or not, Moustakas is not that far off from being the best third baseman in the division.

This season, the Tigers plan to play Miguel Cabrera at third. No one can expect Moose to be Cabrera at the plate, but Cabrera’s work at third remains to be seen. This experiment may not turn out as well as the Tigers hope.

The third basemen in the division consist of, basically, four youngsters trying to develop into solid big leaguers, and one of the best hitters of the last decade who isn’t really a natural third baseman.

For Chicago, 24-year-old Brent Morel has a couple of years of big league experience to build on, but hasn’t blossomed yet. In Cleveland, 23-year-old Lonnie Chisenhall hopes to take the position from last year’s starter, Jack Hannahan. And in Minnesota, the Twins look to 26-year-old Danny Valencia to provide the power they lack in their lineup.

It may not tell a lot to analyze last year’s numbers. But based on them, Moustakas wasn’t far from the others in the division, even with his struggles to adjust to the majors. If you average the numbers posted last season by Morel, Hannahan, Valencia and Brandon Inge of Detroit, you get numbers Moustakas could easily match.

The averages of Morel, Hannahan, Valencia and Inge, compared to Moustakas:

Games: Others – 123, Mousatakas – 89
Hits: Others – 93.5, Moustakas – 89
Doubles: Others – 18, Moustakas – 18
Home Runs: Others – 9, Moustakas – 5
RBIs: Others – 44, Moustakas – 30
Walks: Others – 31, Moustakas – 22
Average: Others – .238, Moustakas – .263

If Moustakas plays 123 games this season, there is no reason to think he can’t blow those numbers out of the water.

Interestingly, the guy being drummed out of a job – Hannahan – actually put up the best OBP, SLG, OPS and WAR: .331/.338/.719 and 2.2. The guy who played the most – Valencia – posted the lowest WAR (-1.1) even though he led the group with 15 homers and 72 RBIs.

The Royals find themselves in the same position as the Twins, White Sox and Indians. Each has a third baseman with minimal experience who they hope can make dramatic improvement.

Moustakas has started slowly this spring, but he won’t be moved out of the lineup by anything but injury this year. The Royals, like three other teams in the division, will wait patiently for their third-base prospect to develop.

Cabrera may post big offensive numbers this year, but the Royals hope Moustakas is the division’s best long-term.

Posted in Featured, I-70 Baseball Exclusives, RoyalsComments (0)

Searching for meaning

The Kansas City Royals started their Cactus League schedule on Sunday with a 6-1 win over their campus mate Texas Rangers. A win as a good way to start the exhibition season, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that having any type baseball broadcast over any medium was a cause for celebration. I’m also confident that by the second game on Monday afternoon I was not the only person trying to figure if any of the individual player performances in these games mean anything.

As much as I’d like to tell myself that a 4-3 record for the Royals at this point in spring training is a good omen. Baseball fan experience tells me it doesn’t mean a whole lot. They do not give out Cactus League Championship rings. They don’t hang Cactus League Championship Banners at Kauffman Stadium, and if they do print Cactus League Championship t-shirts no one should wear them. In fact, the phrase “Cactus League Champion” is so irrelevant that a Google search only brings up four returns, and one of those was from the Royals Review message board.

The Royals have won the Cactus League twice since I’ve been paying close enough attention to notice these things. In 2006 the Royals won the Cactus League and proceeded to lose 100 games during the season. Last year the Royals won the Cactus League and only won 71 games. While it’s good to not look terrible in spring training, winning a lot of games during spring training doesn’t mean that much.

Spring Training is about established major leaguers getting their work in, deciding some position battles, and fringe players catching on with an organization. I have some interest in these battles, but not a whole lot. Other than hoping prospects live up to their potential I’m more concerned that the Royals break camp healthy, and the young players continue their improvement. Only way to improve is to get reps in major league situations. As I fan I don’t have much involvement in that. Nor do I really have any favorites to make the team, just as long as the best players break camp.

Outside of position battles is there any meaning in spring training? Only baseball for baseball’s sake. It’s been a long winter and it’s nice to have any baseball. This is my first spring training with access to MLB Network, and the MLBatBat App on my phone. My access to baseball has never been better. Not only is fan access better, during March the inventory of baseball is greater than during the regular season. With split squad contests, there are 18 games on the schedule today. During the regular season there can only be 15. I guess spring training is a lot like spring break. Don’t look for meaning, just enjoy the experience.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Making their impressions early in Spring Training

This early in spring training, it’s sort of unusual for the Kansas City Royals to have so many lineup and pitching positions already set with potentially good players. In springs past, the Royals usually had several players fighting for roster spots and many times the players who made the roster were marginal at best.

Even though spring training games just started, a few of the lesser-known Royals players have made their impressions. Some are good. Some, not so good.

Starting pitcher Luis Mendoza is making his case for a spot in the starting rotation. In last Sunday’s Cactus League debut against the Texas Rangers, Mendoza threw 36 pitches, giving up an infield hit, a walk and no runs over two innings, contributing to a Royals 6-1 victory.

Mendoza, 28, bounced around with the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers over an 11-year professional career before figuring it out in AAA Omaha last year. Mendoza is out of options and the Royals are taking a long look to see if he can fill a spot in the starting rotation. What happens over the next few starts will determine if he makes the starting rotation, goes to Omaha or another Major League club picks him up if he goes on waivers.

Another Royals player making the most of his opportunities is third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. In the second game against the Rangers, Kouzmanoff came off the bench and hit a walk-off two-run double in the bottom of the ninth to give the Royals a 7-6 win over the Rangers.

A year or two ago, Kouzmanoff might have been the Royals starting third baseman, especially with Alex Gordon’s struggles at third. But with Mike Moustakas solidly at third base, the 30 year-old Kouzmanoff knows he’ll likely be in Omaha unless Moustakas gets hurt. Kouzmanoff can opt out of his contract if he’s not on the Major League roster by May 1. If he has a good spring and returns to his early career form, another Major League team might give Kouzmanoff a chance.

In the Tuesday split-squad game against the San Diego Padres, catcher Max Ramirez belted two home runs as the designated hitter, contributing to the Royals 7-4 win. Then in Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs, Ramirez smacked a two-run single in the ninth.

With Manny Pina recovering from knee surgery, the 27 year-old Ramirez has an opportunity to be the Royals backup catcher over current incumbent Brayan Pena. Being a non-roster invitee, Ramirez will need to keep playing well to make the Royals roster.

Another player who wants to make a good impression is starting pitcher Zach Miner. Well, maybe next time. In Miner’s spring training debut, the right-hander gave up a three-run homer, three hits, a walk and threw two strikeouts over 1.2 innings in a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. It’s only Miner’s first start and he will have plenty of chances to win a spot in the Royals starting rotation. And if not, there’s always Omaha.

Reliever Jeremy Jeffress pitched a scoreless inning in the Tuesday split-squad game against the Indians. While Jeffress had a solid outing, it’s his off-field issues which are a concern. This January, Jeffress was charged with three counts of domestic assault, criminal damage and disorderly conduct after an argument with his girlfriend in Surprise, AZ. The first two charges were dismissed and Jeffress was sentenced to 20 hours of community service for the disorderly conduct charge and required to attend a domestic-violence counseling class. Jeffress did not physically assault his girlfriend and apologized to the Royals and their fans for the incident.

Everyone makes mistakes and the best way to overcome mistakes is to learn from them. But Jeffress has already served a 50 game suspension in 2007 and a 100 game suspension in 2009 for testing positive for marijuana. Another failed drug test will be a lifetime ban from baseball. The 24 year old right-hander will need to make a good impression this spring to make the Royals bullpen. For now, the Royals stand behind Jeffress and he appears to be making the effort to do better on and off the field. For Jeffress sake, let’s hope he does.

To be honest, these players could have one of the best springs in their careers and still not break camp with the Royals. In past years, these players would have a good chance to make the Major League roster. But with the Royals depth, it’s likely these players will end up in Omaha. And for the Royals and their fans, that’s a good thing.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Spring Training Report #3: Let the Games Begin

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Kansas City Royals are just two games into the spring season, but already have shown a winning attitude.  They dominated the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers in a 6-1 win to open the year, and used a late rally to win 7-6 in their second game.

Many former Naturals have been a part of the team’s early spring success.  Johnny Giavotella scored two runs in the first game, while Mike Moustakas had a pair of hits and an RBI in game one.  Giavotella continues to have the upper hand in the battle with Chris Getz to be the Royals starting second baseman, but Getz has shown a better ability to drive the ball so far this spring.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, a non-roster invitee to spring training, capped the 6-5 win in game two with a two-run double in the ninth inning to drive home former Naturals Moustakas and Wil Myers.  Myers has picked up where he left off last fall in the Arizona Fall League this spring.  He has gone 2-for-4 so far this spring and scored twice in just two games.  Myers is trying to make the step up to Triple-A Omaha to start the 2012 season.  Derrick Robinson, who is trying to make that same step, also had a big day Monday for the Royals delivering a two-run single in yesterday’s game.

The Royals are in action Tuesday playing in two games (split squad) against San Diego and Cleveland.  The minor league affiliates will begin playing spring games next Thursday March 15th.  The last minor league game this spring will be March 28th.

Naturals/Texas League Notes

Naturals in Other CampsJuan Abreu (2009) allowed one run in one inning of work so far this spring for the Astros.  Abreu, who made his major league debut with Houston last season is trying to make the team in a relief role.  Angel Sanchez (2008) is in camp with Houston as a non-roster invitee but has yet to see any game action for the Astros.  Kila Ka’aihue (2008) has gone 2-for-10 thus far in three games for the Oakland Athletics.  He is competing for playing time at first base and designated hitter with Daric Barton and former Texas leaguer Chris Carter (Midland, 2009).  Ka’aihue is out of options, and must make the big league roster or be exposed to waivers prior to being sent to the minor leagues.  Jeff Fulchino (2008) made his debut for the Nationals this spring tossing a scoreless inning March 4 against Houston.  Other former Naturals in spring training this season include a trio of players who are in camp with the Atlanta Braves, Dusty Hughes (2008), first baseman Ernesto Mejia (2010), and outfielder Jordan Parraz (2009).  Parraz has gone 2-for-4 with an RBI so far this spring, while Mejia is 1-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.  Hughes made his first appearance on March 3 throwing a scoreless inning against the Detroit Tigers while surrendering a pair of hits.  Former Natural Jeff Bianchi, who is in major league camp with the Milwaukee Brewers, made the highlight real last night tripping on two different occasions while trying to score on a botched fly ball in a game versus the San Francisco Giants. Bianchi had singled off Giants’ ace reliever Sergio Romo.

Transactions:  Former Natural Dan Cortes failed his physical last week.  This voided his minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, making him a free agent.  Longtime Natural Blake Johnson was signed to a minor league deal by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday March 2nd.   Johnson is the only player to suit up for Northwest Arkansas in all four seasons of their existence.  This season the right-hander will either find himself at Double-A Chattanooga or Triple-A Albuquerque.

Other Injury Notes: Felipe Paulino experienced some tightness in his hamstring last week during camp, but it does not appear to be something that will be a long term issue at this point.  Manny Pina is expected to miss the rest of spring training as he recovers from knee surgery, while Paulo Orlando who is recovering from surgery for a sports hernia is expected to be back soon for the Royals.

Check nwanaturals.com for our Spring Training Report, where we’ll continue to follow Royals’ minor leaguers in spring training as well as cover other baseball information that pertains to the Naturals and the Texas League.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale.  Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

Posted in Minors, RoyalsComments (0)

A Look Back: 1982 – Game Two

The year 1982 marked the first of three 1980′s appearances in the World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals. It also marks the one and only time that the Milwaukee Brewers reached the World Series.

With the two teams, now in the same league, prepared to face off for the National League Pennant, i70baseball brings you a look back to that series in 1982. A monumental series that took all seven games to decide a winner. A series that would see would see both teams win a game by a double digit margin as well as each team winning a game by two or fewer runs.

You can read more about Game One by clicking here.

After being blown out of game one by the underdog Brewers, the Cardinals would look to salvage a split at home before heading to Milwaukee for three games. The Brewers on the other hand would be out for blood, hoping to take both games at Busch Memorial Stadium and head back home with a huge advantage. The second game of this series was played on Wednesday, October 13…

Game Two: October 13, 1982
The Brewers would turn to Don Sutton, acquired at the end of August from the Houston Astros in a trade, to pitch game two. Sutton had on overall record that season of 17-9 with a 3.06 earned run average with his Milwaukee numbers being 4-1 with a 3.29 ERA. Sutton was on the backside of his 23-year, major league career but had proven effective for the Brewers.

The Cardinals countered with rookie hurler John Stuper. The young man received his first call to the majors in June of that year and compiled a 9-7 record with a 3.36 earned run average. His career would see him split time between the bullpen and the rotation with moderate success prior to coming to an end in 1986. His final game was as a Cincinnati Red in 1985 prior to being traded to the Montreal Expos that offseason. He never appeared for the Expos.

Stuper would not help his cause in this game, getting into trouble early after walking Robin Yount in the first. His defense would come to his aid and turn a double play to get out of the inning and Cards fans would hope for some momentum to build. In the second inning, Stuper would again issue a free pass, this time to Gordon Thomas. Thomas would be erased on a fielder’s choice ground out by Roy Howell, who would advance to second on a wild pitch from the ineffective Cardinal starter. Charlie Moore‘s double to left-center would put the Brewers on the board and the Cardinals were playing from behind once again.

The third inning would not yield better results for Cardinal fans. Paul Molitor would lead off the inning with a base hit, following it up with a steal of second base and moving to third on another wild pitch. Robin Yount’s ground out to second base would allow Molitor to score and the Brewers would take a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Ted Simmons would take on a run with a solo blast to right field and the Brewers were now on top 3-0 after two and a half innings.

For the first time in the series, the Cardinals offense would get going in the bottom of the third and they would start chipping away at the lead. Dane Iorg would get the inning started with a single before being erased on Willie McGee‘s groundout. McGee would steal second and move up to third on Ozzie Smith‘s groundout. Second baseman Tommy Herr would put a run on the scoreboard for the Cardinals for the first time in the series with a ground rule double to right-center field. Herr would then score on Kent Oberkfell’s single and when the third inning came to a close, the Cards had pulled within one.

After an uneventful fourth inning, the question of “How short is Stuper’s leash?” would be answered quickly in the fifth, as he was removed from the game after surrendering a leadoff double to Yount. Jim Kaat would enter the game in relief and immediately surrender a run scoring single to Cecil Cooper, putting the Brewers on top 4-2. The book on Stuper would be closed at four innings, six hits, four runs (all earned), three walks, three strikeouts and a home run.

Both teams would roll along until the bottom of the sixth when the Cardinals would surge back. The term Whiteyball would be used often in the 1980′s to describe the Cardinals and it was represented well in the sixth inning of the second game of the 1982 World Series. With one out, Kent Oberkfell would single to right field. Oberkfell would then steal second base and advance to third on Keith Hernandez‘s flyball to right. George Hendrick would work a walk and catcher Darrel Porter would shoot a line drive down the left field line scoring both men and tying the game at four runs a piece.

The bullpens would battle into the eight with Bob McClure now on the hill for the Brewers and Bruce Sutter on for the Cards. In the bottom of the eighth inning, McClure would be lifted from the game with one out after walking Hernandez and surrendering a base hit to Darrel Porter. The Brewers would hand the ball to Pete Ladd. Ladd had pitched well in limited action in 1982 and the Brewers needed him to stop the bleeding with runners at first and second and only one out. Ladd, however, would walk Lonnie Smith to load the bases and issue a second free pass to Steve Braun to force in the go-ahead run. He would get McGee to line out to the shortstop before surrendering a base hit to Ozzie Smith. Unfortunately for Cardinal fans, it is only a base hit in the record books. The ball would hit Steve Braun as he was running from first to second and bring an end to the inning with the Cardinals now in the lead for the first time in the series.

Sutter, and Porter, would nail down the victory in the ninth inning. A leadoff single from Molitor would be erased when Porter would throw him out attempting to steal second base and Sutter would close the door on Yount and Cooper to preserve a victory and even the series at a game a piece. The Cardinals had come from behind and won game two by a score of 5-4.

The teams would travel the following day before resuming the series in Milwaukee for game three. Check back on Wednesday as i70baseball continues to bring you the 1982 World Series.

Stay tuned as i70baseball brings you game recaps for all seven games of the 1982 World Series on game days of the 2011 National League Championship Series.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (1)

August 22, 1982 – Grand Theft Brummer

There is an old adage in baseball: it doesn’t take speed to steal a base, just the courage to run combined with the wisdom of when not to. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of luck.

The 1982 season was somewhat of a mirror image of 1964. It was the Cardinals, under new manager and general manager, Whitey Herzog, that jumped out to an early lead, and the Phillies playing catch up. Catch up they did, and Herzog’s retooled Redbirds spent some time looking up at Philadelphia in the standings. Since the end of June, these two teams had played cat and mouse, with neither getting a substantial lead over the other.

That brings us to August 22, and the finale of a three game series with the San Francisco Giants. The teams had split the previous two. The Cardinals had gotten out to a big lead in the opener, but a huge 7 run inning by the Giants turned things around very quickly. Five different pitchers were used in the inning, and none of them were effective, including Bruce Sutter, who would eventually take the loss. The second game would be much like the first, with the Cardinals running out to another early lead, and hanging on by a thread in the late innings. This time Sutter was good, and the Cardinals squeaked out a win.

The finale would feature two of the best young pitchers in the game, Joaquin Andujar for the Cardinals and Atlee Hammaker for the Giants.

Joaquin Andujar in the Powder Blues

For the third time in the series, the Cardinals would jump out to an early lead. Back to back doubles by George Hendrick and Gene Tenace in the second inning lead to the first Cardinals run. Silent George would be part of the next scoring opportunity when he singled ahead of a Willie McGee 2 run homer.

Meanwhile Andujar was crusing, and heading into the sixth inning. On his way to the mound, he must have picked up the wrong ball, stepped on a base line or violated some other pitching taboo, because he was just shelled. It came out of nowhere, totally unexpected. For the third time in the series, Whitey Herzog had to make an early call to his bullpen. John Martin managed to get out of trouble, but the damage had been done. What was once a 3-0 lead had been turned into a 4-3 deficit. Not again.

Both Martin and Doug Bair were great in relief of Andujar, and kept the score at 4-3, hoping for a late inning comeback. Before we get to that, there was one play in the 8th inning that on any other night would have gone by without notice. Steve Braun, pinch hitting for Gene Tenace, delivers a 2 out single. Herzog decides to pinch run for Braun, and uses a backup catcher by the name of Glenn Brummer.

Yes, you know what’s coming, don’t you ? Patience. We’re not there yet.

Obie

Facing the Giants closer in the ninth inning and trailing by a run, Ozzie Smith starts things off by striking out. Greg Minton then hits David Green with a pitch. That would turn out to be a big mistake because Green was one of the fastest men on the Cardinals roster. Don’t let that giant frame fool you – Green could fly. And he did, stealing second base and putting the tying run in scoring position. Tommy Herr would fail to drive in Green.

That brought the pitcher’s spot up to the plate. Whitey Herzog goes to his bench for Ken Oberkfell, and Obie comes through big. He rips a line drive that splits the outfielders and the ball goes all the way to the wall. Green scores easily, and Oberkfell ends up at second base with a double. He was stranded there, but now his team had another chance.

Extra innings – free baseball.

Jim Kaat takes over in the tenth inning, and struggles. The huge crowd all exhale in unison when Kaat induces an inning ending double play, stranding a runner in scoring position. That was close! The veteran lefty looks better in the eleventh inning when he gets two quick outs, but a double by Milt May causes Herzog to go to his bullpen again, this time for the hard throwing Jeff Lahti. Lahti is shaky at first, but gets out of trouble, preventing May from scoring. That too was close. Too close.

Meanwhile the Cardinals are getting absolutely nowhere with the new Giants reliever, Gary Lavelle. Guys would get on base, steal their way into scoring position, but nobody was able to get that key hit.

All of this comes into play as the Cardinals head into the bottom of the 12th inning. It is a brutally hot August afternoon, and Jeff Lahti is now spent. Not only that, the Redbirds bullpen looks terribly empty. It is now or never.

The Man of the Hour

With one out, Glenn Brummer singles. Willie McGee follows that with a single. Brummer stops at second base on the play. Julio Gonzalez pops out for the second out of the inning. That brings Ozzie Smith to the plate. If this were 1987, we might expect a big hit from the Wizard, but this is still 1982 and Ozzie was not much of a threat. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be productive, and he is. He hits a slow roller and there is no play on the speeding Smith.

The bases are loaded, but there are two outs.

David Green is the next batter, but he’s not the focus of our story. Glenn Brummer, now standing on third base is. He notices something about Lavelle, something only a catcher might see. When working from the stretch, Lavelle has a very high leg kick, and that slows down his delivery to the plate. He’s also a left hander, which means a runner on third base can take a huge lead. Brummer tells Chuck Hiller, the Cardinals third base coach, of his plan. Those were the only two people on the planet that knew what was coming, and neither man tipped their hand.

Brummer waits until an 0-2 delivery. Being a catcher, he knew the pitch would would be something away, probably off-speed. A waste pitch. That increased his odds of success. A straight steal of home plate in that situation would be the last thing anybody would expect. With a giant lead, Brummer breaks when Lavelle goes into the stretch. Thanks to that high leg kick, and a ton of luck, Brummer beats the pitch and slides safely into home with the game winner. Brummer is lucky David Green caught him out of the corner of his eye because the big man stepped aside just as Brummer hit the batters box in his slide.

The huge crowd erupts, and shouting can be heard in houses throughout the Gateway City. The Cardinals win, 5-4 on a walk-off straight steal of home plate. Even now, 29 years later, we still look back at that Sunday afternoon game and smile as if we are listening to it on the radio for the first time.

But let’s not forget the importance of that game. Philadelphia had already won their game, and the Cardinals needed this win badly to stay two ahead of the Phillies. This was not a fluke, or one off entertaining win. Brummer knew that they needed to win, that his reliever was on fumes, and there was little help left in the bullpen. It was a heady play, and we would see many such plays throughout the tenure of Whitey Herzog. We would not see Brummer steal many more bases, and certainly none as exciting or as important as this one.

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.

Posted in Cardinals, ClassicComments (0)