Sunday

Now that's more like it! Royals win, end ridiculous 11-game slide


The Royals last saw fireworks on April 8, a full two weeks ago.

After watching Friday night's game, you sort of had a feeling that something like this was coming. The Royals had a great offensive approach at the plate in the first game of the series vs. the Tribe, and they carried that into tonight's game, halting their 11-game slide while picking up their first win since April 8th. They attacked Paul Byrd, hanging four runs on him in the first and jumping out to a 7-0 lead after three innings, and that was more than enough support for a surprisingly effective combination of Joe Mays and Mike Wood.

Mays, in fact, was perfect through the first three innings, and thanks to a miraculous double play turned in by Angel Berroa, he entered the fifth inning having faced the minimum. It fell apart for Mays right there, and he was forced to turn the game over to Wood with two outs, two on, and a 7-3 lead. On the night, Mays was charged with four earned runs on four hits in 4.2 innings of work. Those certainly aren't great stats, but against an offensive powerhouse like the Indians, RC couldn't have expected anything better.


RC was pleased with Mays' outing today.

Wood, however, was incredible. He took over in the fifth and finished the game, tossing 4.1 innings while allowing just three hits and an unearned run. With the Royals staked a nice lead, Wood did exactly what he was supposed to do -- throw strikes. He didn't walk a single batter, and 36 of his 55 pitches were over the plate as he picked up his second victory of the year.

Of course, the true star of today's game was the offense, which has now collected 25 hits over the last two days. Everyone except Paul Bako and Mike Sweeney got in on the act, and even Sweeney had a key RBI on a sacrifice fly. Doug Mientkiewicz (two-run double) and Emil Brown (two-run single) delivered the big blows in the first inning, and Reggie Sanders launched a big RBI double in the sixth inning. Shane Costa continued to look solid at the plate, picking up two more hits, as did Mark Grudzielanek, who continues to lead the Royals with a .317 BA.

The teams play the rubber match tomorrow afternoon, as the Tribe sends Jason Johnson to the hill to oppose the unpredictable Jeremy Affeldt. The Royals have had both success and failure in the past vs. Johnson, and if Affeldt can replicate his command from his last outing, the Royals just might be able to take the series. It all hinges on which Jeremy Affeldt will show up tomorrow.

RC has a few more observations:

  • Did anyone actually expect Grudzielanek to play this well? We don't know if he can keep it up for a full season, but if he does, the Royals won't mind picking up his 2007 option one bit. He often looks bad when he swings and misses, but he always seems to have an excellent idea of what he's doing at the plate, and his defense has been outstanding. Simply put, he's a ballplayer, and RC loves watching him play. With the Royals' luck in previous seasons concerning free agent signings, we were a little worried, but Grudz has dashed those fears quite effectively.



  • Mark Grudzielanek is getting it done this year.

  • During the losing streak, Brown in particular looked off-kilter. RC has remained a big Brown supporter since last season because of his quick, compact, and balanced swing, and we rarely saw him look bad on a pitch last year. For the last couple of weeks, Brown has looked bad on many occasions, opening up and flailing at off-speed breaking balls.


    Brown might be starting to heat up.

    However, RC has begun to see the old Brown over the last two games, and even though he still took a couple swings that made us cringe, we're starting to see that compact swing and competent, confident approach at the plate. We look for him to get back on track very soon, and we still expect him to eclipse last year's numbers before the season is done.


  • Are fans going to boo Sweeney EVERY SINGLE TIME he makes an out this season? The man went 4-for-5 on Friday night, and then drew boos from the fans when he struck out on a nasty 3-2 slider from a pitcher he had never seen before. And then they booed him again when he flew out in the eighth, even though the Royals had a six-run lead! RC was shocked, but a friend explained that perhaps they were booing because they wanted that 12th hit and free doughnuts. Either way, RC was disgusted, but that leads us to our next observation.


  • RC loves it when the Royals win on less than 12 hits. No, we don't own Krispy Kreme stock, but we do hate that the doughnut chase generates more crowd noise and excitement than the action on the field. We're probably too young to be so bitter, but RC actually let out a cheer when Mientkiewicz dashed the free doughnut dreams of 8,000 very cheap people by striking out to end the eighth inning. That was fantastic!


    Dougie Fresh did everything right tonight.

    It's sure nice to be able to write about a win.
  • 16 Comments:

    At 4/23/2006 3:58 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

    The key to hitting guys like Joe Mays and Paul Byrd is waiting them out. The Royals did just that against Byrd, showing outstanding plate discipline tonight. Funny how you score a lot of runs when you're willing to run deep counts.

    There's no question that Mays looked really good in the first four innings, coaxing weak contact from the Cleveland hitters. He just hit a wall in the fifth. If the Royals had any better options to start (which they don't), they'd be well served to get Mays out of the rotation as soon as possible.

     
    At 4/23/2006 9:01 AM, Blogger Rob said...

    I have booed plenty of players in the past, but I was at the game last night and I couldn't understand why Mike heard it then. I don't care if free food for life was on the line, the Royals were about to win the darn game and that was certainly enough for me! I'll take a win over donuts any day of the week!

     
    At 4/23/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    Rob, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

     
    At 4/23/2006 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The booing of Sweeney is ridiculous. Yes, he's having a tremendously slow start (not many Royals aren't), but how soon they forget the years when he basically was the entire offense. People of KC, you shame me.

    Sandy
    KC native on the east coast

     
    At 4/23/2006 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Not only did the Royals win, but so did the Wranglers, and Billy Butler finally had a good game at the plate with two long overdue home runs.

    Joe Mays' outing turned out to be not so hot...it was still a bad outing, and we'd all be complaining had he not been bailed out by the offense. Still, I guess it was mildly encouraging. Maybe the Royals should start pitching Wood and Mays in tandem. Each seems to struggle with the big inning as a starter, but they worked well together last night. Just a thought.

    Austin

     
    At 4/23/2006 5:14 PM, Blogger Your Majesty said...

    I don't know if Mays can really be credited as coaxing weak contact, here. I think more likely, his luck just turned around a bit at the beginning of the game.
    I recently calculated the Royals' BABIP's (batting average on balls in play) over the last 3 years in ML play.

    Buck- .292
    Berroa- .313
    Brown- .331
    DeJesus- .332
    Grudzielanek- .343
    Teahen- .309
    Mientkiewicz- .284
    Sanders- .307
    Sweeney- .299

    Do you notice a pattern here? It's not necessarily how HARD guys are hitting he ball, but how quickly they make it down the baseline. Of course, you should take *both* of these things into account, but no one is going to accuse Teahen of hitting the ball harder than Sanders.

    I'll give the guy this- he didn't give up any extra base hits until the 4th, so you have a point there. But then he proceded to give up 3 doubles in a row didn't he?

     
    At 4/23/2006 5:24 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

    I think you know that I generally don't think much of the "pitch to contact" theory, but last night, Mays was doing an excellent job of locating and mixing all three of his pitches in the first four innings. The Indians were hitting soft grounders and fly balls for the most part.

     
    At 4/23/2006 5:27 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

    Oh gosh, here comes sumajasted with his stats.

     
    At 4/23/2006 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Germam is looking great!

    The guy needs more PT.

     
    At 4/24/2006 2:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    RC-

    Just had to comment on Greinke, your hero-in-training. That quote of his is priceless. He really must be crazy if he loves the game more than his Cowboys cheerleader girlfriend. I wish him the best though.

    Austin

     
    At 4/24/2006 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The "pitch to contact" theory is a cheap way of saying "I have no stuff"

     
    At 4/24/2006 3:49 PM, Blogger DL said...

    You're lucky you don't own Krispy Kreme stock.

    I haven't been able to watch Brown play this year, but his statistics at least show continued strong plate discipline (8BB, 11K) unlike practically every other Royal. That suggests to me that he's been hit unlucky (unless he's making weak contact an inordinate amount of the time) and the hits will start to fall soon enough.

    By the way, anyone else notice that John Buck has 4BBs and just 2 strikeouts this year? Its a very small sample size, but that's encouraging.

     
    At 4/24/2006 3:58 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    You know, one of my best friends throughout childhood and high school put himself through dental school largely thanks to capital gains made from Krispy Kreme stock. He got in at the right time, and the stock skyrocketed shortly thereafter. Lucky bastard.

    I had planned to mention that John Buck hadn't struck out all season through his first 30 at bats, but then he sank that plan by going down twice over the weekend. Still, I think it's pretty encouraging. If he can hit .250 with 15-20 HRs, he'll be a decent starting catcher for a while.

     
    At 4/24/2006 4:20 PM, Blogger Max said...

    Buck does seem to be maturing in his approach to hitting, which is very encouraging. I've actually seen him take pitches the other way and hit them hard!

    Mark Teahen on the other hand...he has driven the ball opposite field. I don't think I've ever seen him pull the ball hard though. And he looks lost at the plate half the time.

    Enjoy the offensive surge while you can, this lineup will not score this many runs all year. With the Twins and A's coming to town, I'm fairly confident we'll be back to our shutout days soon enough. And yes, I know the Twins have a horrible ERA so far - the Royals are usually a good cure for that.

     
    At 4/24/2006 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The only way Teahan is going to drive a ball is if he gets into his car and takes it there

     
    At 4/25/2006 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    LOL Dave.. You sure look like you own Krispy kreme stock..

    You need to lose a few pounds there

     

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