Buck You, Chief Wahoo!

John Buck did his best Andrew Jackson impersonation tonight.

Jeremy Affeldt tonight lasted only 1.2 innings, but the Royals backed him up in what might have been their most exciting game this season, prevailing over the Indians for the second straight night, 10-7. In relief of Affeldt, the Royals rolled out Jimmy Gobble, Joel Peralta, Andrew Sisco, and Elmer Dessens. Gobble and Peralta weren't great, as they both gave up a pair of runs, but they were good enough to keep the Royals in the game. Sisco put out a fire by recording the final out in the seventh inning, then tossed a scoreless eighth. After he surrendered a leadoff double to Eduardo Perez in the ninth, Dessens entered the game and recorded the final three outs, giving up only an RBI single to Aaron Boone.

The offense tonight was excellent, as we predicted it might be against Jason Johnson. Three times the Royals battled back from two-run deficits, finally taking control of the game in the sixth with a six-run outburst. John Buck was the hero for the second straight night, as it was his monster three-run HR that turned a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 lead. On the night, Buck was a perfect 3-for-3 with a walk, and so far in the series he is 5-for-6 with two homers and 5 RBI.

Buck's swing lately has been much shorter to the ball, and he's had more excellent at bats in the last two games than he had in the previous two weeks. Even his walk was impressive, as he battled back from a 1-2 count while fouling off four pitches to draw the free pass. His average is now up to a season-high .254, and it will be interesting to see if Buddy Bell puts him in the lineup again tomorrow, despite the fact that he usually rests him on day games that follow night games. We're not counting on it, but we suppose it's a possibility with the way he's swinging the bat right now.

Mark Grudzielanek added four hits, raising his average to .315.

Of course, John Buck wasn't the only player who got in on the fun. Mark Grudzielanek had four hits, and he would have been 5-for-5 if the Indians hadn't wised up in the eighth inning by putting their second baseman in short right field. Aaron Guiel had a solo home run and a two-run single, and both Tony Graffanino and Kerry Robinson had three hits apiece.

The Royals go for the sweep tomorrow, and they might stand a good chance at pulling it off. Scott Elarton goes to the mound for KC, opposing Jake Westbrook, and the Royals will need Elarton to eat some innings after seeing the bullpen depleted the last two games. We'll probably get a somewhat funky lineup on the getaway day, but that also means we might actually see Justin Huber get into a game. The Royals have won four of the last six games, and their home record now stands at 7-8. Believe it or not, they're only four games behind the Twins, so with a few more wins the Royals might actually manage to climb out of the cellar.

  • Speaking of the Twins, we noticed we started getting some traffic from a Twins message board today, and we received some fairly agitated comments. We investigated further and learned that a Twins fan had uncovered a post of ours titled "Why we hate the Twins," which was written during the infancy stages of RC. The column was written a full ten months ago (before Kirby Puckett's death, mind you), but for some reason, Twins fans are a little bit slower than the average fan (how else can you explain the excitement they get from being circled by Bert Blyleven?). Anyway, we got a little bit of a chuckle, and we invite our readers to revisit the post and leave a comment of your own, if so compelled.

  • Today's as good a day as any for us to announce that you can now read RC's work on the Most Valuable Network. As you know, RC attends tons of minor league games each season, but we always try to limit the content on this site to that which is only Royals-related. On the Minor Details blog, RC (also known as Dave Sanford) will no longer have those limitations, and it will give us an opportunity to write about and publish photos of the dozens of great prospects we see throughout the year. Nothing here at RC will change, and we'll be sure to let those of you who are interested know about the columns that we publish on Minor Details throughout the season. We also have another project in the works, but it's progressing slower than anticipated, so we can't make the announcement just yet. Stay tuned.

  • Finally, we've published our latest Draft Prospect Update, as promised. There was no movement on our list this week, and Andrew Miller, whose Tar Heels were off last weekend, remains our # 1 prospect. A number of pitchers had excellent weekends, and there are some great matchups coming up this week, so be sure to read all about it.

    Also, RC's posting over the next several days will be lighter than normal, as we finish studying for our GMAT exam (which is on Thursday). There will be no Daily Prospect Update on Tuesday or Wednesday nights, and this weekend RC's official father comes to town for the Baltimore series. This is the fourth straight year he's made the trip for the series, and it's become something of a tradition that we both look forward to every year. We catch a couple games as we attempt to drink all of the beer in Baltimore. We've never quite succeeded, but we've both been training pretty hard, so this might be our year.
  • Tuesday

    Royals beat Tribe, 4-3...

    Denny Bautista was only able to give the Royals three innings tonight in his return to the rotation, but he was bailed out by another stellar Mike Wood performance. Bautista wasn't very sharp, throwing only 35 of his 60 pitches for strikes, and by the time he was lifted in the fourth inning, he wasn't anywhere close to the plate. Wood entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out, and he successfully got out of the jam while limiting the damage to just one run on a sacrifice fly.

    This was the fourth time in Wood's last six outings that he's been called on for four or more innings of relief, and he's been nothing short of outstanding in that role. In those four appearances, Wood has pitched a total of 16.2 IP, surrendering only 13 hits, six walks, and three earned runs (1.67 ERA) while striking out ten. On the season, Wood now sports a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 IP, and he's become one of the most reliable pitchers in a bullpen that is once again starting to look like an asset.

    The key offensive contributors tonight were Doug Mientkiewicz, John Buck, and Esteban German. Minky's two-run single in the first brought home both German and Mark Grudzielanek, turning an early one-run deficit into a one-run lead. John Buck had a pair of hits, including his first homer of the season, a shot off the fountain retaining wall in left-center field. German also went 2-for-3 with a walk, scoring two of the team's four runs while raising his batting average to .447. This was the second straight game in which German's batted leadoff, which RC views as a very welcome development.

    Buck slammed his first home run of the season on Monday night.

    The Royals tomorrow send out Jeremy Affeldt to oppose Cleveland's Jason Johnson, who's been struggling of late (27 hits and 15 ER allowed in last 18 IP) after a fantastic start. Johnson is the type of pitcher who the Royals have had their way with in the past, so RC thinks there's a good chance we could see another Royals victory tomorrow. As bad as the Royals have been on the road, it might surprise some people to see that they're only two games under .500 at home (6-8).

  • RC has to ask, just why in the hell is Justin Huber still in KC? RC supported the move when Huber was promoted last week, but we had falsely assumed at the time that he'd get at least semi-regular playing time. Instead, Huber has received exactly four plate appearances in the last week (1-for-3 with a walk), and he hasn't even come close to seeing any action at first base. This is completely unacceptable.

    Photographic evidence that Huber does in fact own a glove.

    RC is often able to find some logic behind even the most questionable Royals moves, but we come up completely empty on this one. If he's not going to play at all, then why is he here? As it is, Huber so far has lost about 25 AAA at bats, and that number is only going to climb as the Royals face nothing but righties for the foreseeable future. For the love of God, either play the kid or send him back! The present arrangement can only be described as supremely embarrassing, and the longer it is allowed to go on, the more embarrassing it gets.

    Anyway, that's it for today. We still owe you a Draft Prospect Update and reports on Chris McConnell (who hit his first homer today), Chris Lubanski, and Matt Tupman, and we promise to deliver them in the next couple of days. We've also got an announcement forthcoming about some new places where you'll be able to read RC's work, but we'll keep quiet on that for the time being.
  • Monday

    Rosen interviews Billy Buckner...RC braces for the inevitable...

    In lieu of a recap of the weekend's action, which saw the Royals drop their series against the White Sox, RC today is pleased to present another report by our High Desert Correspondent, Jon Rosen. Jon conducted an excellent interview with pitching prospect Billy Buckner over the weekend, and today he reports on first baseman Mike Stodolka and pitcher Danny Christensen:

    Danny Christensen continued his tough luck on Friday night. His pitch count was high, but he still came up with five innings in which he gave up just one run. He left the game trailing 1-0, and took the loss as the Mavs were unable to amount a comeback in a 4-1 defeat to a well-armed Modesto staff. Still, his two seam fastball has been well-located on both sides of the plate, and his curveball still has that same nasty tilt.

    The only run he gave up in the game last night was a two-strike solo shot by Modesto 1B Duke Sardinha - two pitches before the HR it appeared that Christensen had caught him looking with a perfectly placed fastball on the inside corner, but he didn't get the call from the scab ump, who irritated both teams with his strike zone.

    Mike Stodolka has slowed down since receiving the Cal League's hitter of the week award two weeks ago. Since then, he is just 3-27 with only one extra base hit. He still continues to draw walks, however, as he has recorded bases on balls in six of his last eight plate appearances, raising his OBP to a Cal League-leading .440 entering Saturday night's action. He might not have the desired power suitable for a corner infield position, but he makes up for it with his ability to hit lefthanders as well as righthanders (.304 v L; .313 v R) as well as a clean, fluid stroke that sprays balls to all parts of the field.

    Still, he is currently mired in a slump, and it will be interesting to see how quickly and efficiently he is able to make adjustments and snap out of it after six years on the pitchers' mound. My guess is that he'll turn it around sooner rather than later, as he is a hard worker with excellent makeup and one of the most well-respected players in the clubhouse. - JR

  • Folks, it's no secret that RC's Official Hero may not be employed with the Kansas City Royals much longer. In fact, there's rampant speculation that Allard Baird might even be let go as early as Monday morning. If the hammer indeed falls, it will be a tough pill for us to swallow, but we won't agonize over the decision. There's no question that mistakes have been made and the Royals have lost a lot of games throughout Baird's tenure, and if David Glass feels that justifies making a change right now, then so be it.

    Is RC going to have to find a new hero?

    However, we have plenty of fears to keep us occupied. The most immediate concern is the upcoming draft and the effect a major change in the baseball operations staff will have on the Royals' draft preparedness in June. Hopefully these concerns will be addressed at the time a change is made, but if not, there could be disastrous consequences.

    Our bigger concern centers around who Glass taps to take the organization's reins. We have no idea who he's talking to (although his buddy Drayton McLane is a strong suspect), but we frankly don't have much confidence in Glass's ability to make baseball decisions. RC's biggest fear is that the Royals will hire a retread with a familiar name who has failed elsewhere with a typical, antiquated approach. Such a move would smack of making change simply for the sake of change when an innovator is required. We sure hope that's not the case.

    Of course, it's still too early to fret. As of right now, no changes have been made, so RC is just going to sit back and watch what unfolds. We'll have more to say about all of this if and when a change is actually made. Right now, it's nothing but speculation.