The Royals’ push for a possible postseason bid will have the club on national TV several times as the regular season winds down. Here’s the rundown:
All remaining games will be on FOX Sports Kansas City, with the exception of tomorrow’s game (Saturday, September 20), which is exclusively on FOX (WDAF FOX 4 in Kansas City).
September 19 – In addition to the FSKC broadcast, tonight’s game will air on ESPN 2 (outside of the FSKC broadcast area). Dan Shulman, John Kruk, Curt Schilling and Buster Olney have the call.
September 20 – Tomorrow’s game was moved to a 12:05 start time for the Fox Network broadcast. Justin Kutcher, Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal will be the announcers. The game is one of two during the exclusive FOX window, meaning that 79% of the country will get the Royals/Tigers game, with the rest of the country receiving the Cubs/Dodgers game. Please check your local listings.
September 21 – In addition to the FSKC broadcast, Sunday’s game will be shown on TBS (local blackout applies). Ernie Johnson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ron Darling will be in the booth.
September 24 – The Royals have learned that next Wednesday’s game in Cleveland will be ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball national telecast. That game will air on FSKC in Royals territory.
The Royals announced today that only standing room tickets remain for all three home games this weekend at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals face the Detroit Tigers tonight at 7:10 p.m., Saturday at 12:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Remaining standing-room seats are available for $20 at royals.com/tickets. Fans are urged to arrive early to reduce traffic congestion at Kauffman Stadium. Listed below are features and promotions for the final regular-season home series:
Friday, September 19 – Detroit Tigers vs. Royals, 7:10 p.m.
• Futures Night – The Royals salute the Pitchers and Players of the Year from each minor league affiliate prior to the game. All of the players are expected to participate in an autograph session from 5:30-6:15 p.m. at Gate A near the Royals Hall of Fame before receiving their awards in a special pregame ceremony.
• Buck Night – Fans can enjoy a special Buck Night. Hot dogs, small Pepsi products and peanuts are just $1 each all night long. http://www.royals.com/fanvalue.
• ThunderStix Giveaway – The first 20,000 fans will receive a pair of “GO Royals” ThunderStix, courtesy of Draft Kings.
Saturday, September 20 – Detroit Tigers vs. Royals, 12:05 p.m.
• Fan Appreciation Day presented by Sprint – The Royals reward fans for their tremendous support throughout the season with prize giveaways throughout the game. All fans in attendance have a chance to win autographed memorabilia, tickets to the Club’s 2015 home opener, an All-Access Ballpark Tour, gift cards from Royals partners, and much more. For the entire list of prizes, visit http://www.royals.com/fans.
• Royals Scarf – The first 10,000 fans will receive a Royals Scarf, courtesy of Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Sunday, September 21 – Detroit Tigers vs. Royals, 1:10 p.m.
• Royals 2015 Early Bird Schedule & 2014 Team Photo – All fans in attendance receive a 2015 early-bird team schedule with a 2014 team photo courtesy of Pittcraft Printing.
• Family FunDay Sunday – Each Sunday home game features pregame interactive kids entertainment by School of Rock, plus face painters, caricature or balloon artists in the Outfield Experience. Fans also have the opportunity to get pregame autographs from select players each Sunday.
• Sunday Fun Run – All fans 14 and under can run the bases after the game (conditions permitting).
Nori Aoki recorded an amazing 11 hits during the Chicago series…four on Monday, four on Tuesday and three on Wednesday! His second hit on Wednesday set up Lorenzo Cain’s three-run homer and also tied both George Brett and Willie Wilson for the most by a Royal in a three game series at 10. Aoki wasn’t done – just an inning later, he recorded number 11, claiming the club record. Fans chanted his name during the late innings and Nori returned the appreciation by tipping his cap during a postgame interview. Aoki was the subject of a Gatorade bucket splash, though most of it ended up on his translator, Kosuke Inaji.
The Royals will look to keep pace in the pennant race by taking the rubber match of a three-game set with Chicago this evening.
The hosts will have to go through Chris Sale and his 1.99 ERA in order to do so, of course, but manager Ned Yost found a silver lining to the task of competing with Sale.
“He throws a lot of strikes,” Yost said. “And that’s good for us because we swing at a lot of balls. But he’s got really good stuff. You know you’re going to have your hands full. You just have to battle it out. You hope you can score a couple of runs and your pitching and defense can keep you in the game and get to the bullpen.”
Amid Kansas City’s lineup of free-swingers is All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. Perez, who has carried the offense at times this season, finds himself mired in a 5-for-45 (.111) slump since Sept. 6. He’s struck out a dozen times and walked just once over that span.
“He’s trying too hard,” said Yost. “He’s up there trying to make something happen. And you can’t go up there and make something happen on the first pitch or two. You’ve got to kind of catch your breath, step back a little bit, and let the at-bat come to you instead of trying to take the first pitch, no matter where it is, and drive it into the gap. You’ve got to get up there and be a little bit more selective.”
The absence of free-passes doesn’t alarm Yost, but the Royals’ skipper is concerned about pitch selection.
“Salvy’s never been a guy that’s gonna take a lot of pitches,” he said. “He’s always been a guy that puts the ball in play, and swings the bat, and he’s always a dangerous guy. But there’s been some instances here, lately, where he’s swinging at balls that never were strikes – that didn’t leave the pitchers hand a strike.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, offensively, is Nori Aoki, who is enjoying his hottest homestand of the season against an opponent that he has dominated. Aoki went 4-for-5 last night, his second consecutive four-hit game, and now has 12 hits over his last 24 at-bats.
“Nori’s gotten hot,” said Yost. “We needed that. We need some guys getting hot and creating some scoring opportunities, and Nori’s been driving in runs and he’s been doing it all for us. Earlier in the year, when Nori was leading off, it was uncanny, every time he was on base he’d find a way to score. We hope that we can keep that trend up. Back-to-back four hit nights have been big. We need to mix in a few more guys getting hot like him and we’ll be in great shape.”
The Royals will enjoy a day off tomorrow before hosting Detroit in a pivotal three-game series beginning on Friday. Yost will use the off-day to celebrate his father-in-law’s birthday – sort of.
“My wife called me yesterday and said that she was coming into town today, and I thought she was coming in Friday, so I was thinking, okay, I get the whole off day to myself, you know?”
When asked if he was aware of the reason for the Missus’ early arrival, Yost was reminded of at least one significant aspect associated with Sept. 17.
“She says, tomorrow’s my father’s birthday. Today, right? Well we got married on her father’s birthday 37 years ago, and I absolutely forgot my wedding anniversary. So we’re going to go have a nice dinner… and take a trip to Bass Pro Shop and see if they’ve got any new fishing lures or any new bow sights.
“I should’ve never got married in September because the baseball season’s going on,” Yost quipped. “And she doesn’t even get mad anymore. She just takes it as a given that I’m going to forget it.”
As for a peace offering? Yost knows just the thing.
“I’ll buy her a fishing pole,” he said. “She likes to fish.”
By Kolby Paxton
In what amounted to a seemingly perfect illustration of what it is, exactly, that “speed do,” the Royals ran past Chicago in a dramatic ninth inning, come-from-behind victory on Monday, and the club will look to carry that magic into the second game of the three-game set this evening.
“What we saw last night, you don’t see,” said manager Ned Yost. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, where you tie a ballgame and win a ballgame in the ninth inning on two balls that didn’t even leave the infield. It was unique. It was fun. It was exciting… but today is a different day.”
Yost asserted that, while the events of last night may well have been fit for the silver screen, the comeback victory neither changed, nor affirmed the teams’ confidence and/or approach moving forward.
“These guys fight every day,” he said. “They don’t need validation after a game like that, ‘Boy we can come back.’ They’ve been doing it all year long.”
Liam Hendriks will be on the hill for the Royals tonight, making his second start in place of Danny Duffy and his fourth appearance for Kansas City overall. After tossing a gem in his first start with the club, Hendriks has run into some trouble of late, taking back-to-back losses, including Sept. 11 vs. Boston, when the right-hander exited after just 2.1 innings of work.
“The first inning or two he was okay,” said Yost. “In the third inning, he hung a curve ball and then just tried to be too quick in his delivery to the plate. And that got his tempo off, got his rhythm off. Just stay within yourself, use the strike zone, throw strikes, and let your defense work for you.”
As for Duffy, Yost said that his simulated game went according to plan on Tuesday. The lefty is scheduled to make his next start against the Indians on Monday.
“His stuff was really, really good,” he said. “Threw some good curve balls, threw some really good change ups. Had regular life on his fastball, just a little erratic with his command, which is to be expected.”
Yost announced on Tuesday that he plans to shake up the pitching rotation slightly when the Royals face-off with Detroit this weekend.
“After the off-day, we want to keep Shields and Vargas on regular rest,” he said. “We’re going to slide Guthrie back to the Sunday game. That enables us to have our two left-handers pitch in Cleveland, Duffy, Ventura, and Vargas, and then lines us up for the Chicago series.”
By Kolby Paxton
After dropping three of four to Boston and falling 1.5 games out of first place in the American League Central, the Royals will look to string victories together during a three-game set with the visiting Chicago White Sox. They will have to do so without contribution from Danny Duffy, however, who will be scratched once more in favor of Liam Hendriks on Tuesday.
“We’ve decided we’re going to throw him a four-inning simulated game and start Hendriks,” said manager Ned Yost. “What that does is just make sure that Danny is both mentally and physically ready for his next start. He threw twice playing catch. He threw one bullpen session where he threw 20 pitches and he turned the last four or five pitches loose. He had pretty good velocity on his fastball. He was rusty with his slider. So we’ll go ahead and throw him a four-inning simmed game, around 50 pitches, and have him ready for his next start.”
While a great deal of uncertainty surrounds Duffy’s shoulder tightness and his ongoing recovery, Yost said that the one constant has been the absence of pain or stiffness of late.
“The only thing that we do know is that he feels good,” he said. “He’ll go first game in Cleveland.”
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the final game of a four-game series with Boston, the Kansas City bullpen faltered down the stretch, allowing the Red Sox to take command of the game during the sixth and seventh innings. Following the game, Yost was the object of criticism for his choice of relievers.
“This is a recipe that we’ve used all year long to a great degree of success,” said Yost. “You know that these guys aren’t going to be perfect and they are going to have bumps in the road. But, again, we’ve used this recipe all year long very successfully. Yesterday it didn’t work. Things like that happen.”
Yost conceded that he will be more likely to use Herrera and/or Davis for multiple innings of work for the remainder of the season.
“[Herrera] has gone multiple innings five times (this season),” he said. “Wade hasn’t done it at all. But he’s ready to do it. Everything is do or die. Yesterday was do or die. But I had confidence that Crow was going to come in and get us through the inning. It was a perfect matchup, Cespedes with Crow’s slider, but he ended up walking him. We needed a strikeout. He got it with Craig. But then just pulled a pitch the next time and a guy with three home runs all year hit his fourth. It’s just one of those things.”
Billy Butler returns to his customary designated hitter role this evening after a noticeable absence from the starting lineup of late.
“It’s do or die the last 14 days,” said Yost. “You’re going to put the hottest guys that you’ve got in your lineup to try to create some offense. The last two days have been better, but up until then, we’d struggled offensively a little bit. You want to try to make sure that you get the guys that are the hottest into that lineup every single day. Hopefully Billy goes out and has some good at-bats and gets some hits and we can move forward.”
Brandon Finnegan has had an impressive start to his career by retiring the first eight batters he has faced, seven of which have been All-Stars at one point in their careers. The lefty from TCU, who is the only player from the 2014 draft class to appear in a Major League game, could be a big factor in the Royals bullpen down the stretch.
“We are starting to like him a little bit more,” manager Ned Yost said. “We know his stuff is really, really good. We’ll continue to look for spots to put him in.”
Injured closer Greg Holland has not appeared in a game for over a week but appears ready to pitch again. Yost said what they will probably do is put Holland in a low-leverage situation after missing more than a week. “If he feels god after that, right back to the closer’s spot,” Yost said.
Yost was asked about the struggling offense in September and said he doesn’t know why it happens but his club does everything together.
“When they’re swinging, they’re all swinging,” Yost added. “When they’re slumping, they’re all slumping. It just takes one big hit to get the train rolling again. You know you can get that hit at any time and get back on track.”
Ned Yost provided injury updates on Danny Duffy and Greg Holland during today’s pregame media session. Duffy will see the doctor today and that visit will determine when Danny can play catch again, but Yost added “[Danny]’s feeling better.”
As for the All-Star, Holland has been dealing with some triceps tightness in his right arm and has not pitched since September 3. Ned said that Greg could be ready to go tonight, depending on how he felt during pregame warmups.
“Two days he felt much, much better,” Yost said. “He didn’t feel any tightness on his fastball and just a tinge of it on his slider. Yesterday he didn’t feel it at all. My mindset was to take him to where he felt good, didn’t feel anything, and then give him another day.”
In Holland’s absence, Wade Davis has assumed the closer’s role and notched saves in the three victories during the last road trip.
Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals announced today that the Saturday, September 20 game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium has been moved from 6:10 p.m. to 12:05 p.m. CT to accommodate FOX and its Saturday baseball package. The game will be televised exclusively on the FOX Network.
The September 20 game will remain Fan Appreciation Day with prize giveaways throughout the afternoon to thank fans for their tremendous support this season. The first 10,000 fans will receive a Royals Scarf, courtesy of Academy Sports and Outdoors. In addition, Royals Charities will host Shirts Off Their Backs, a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City that gives fans the opportunity to win an autographed jersey from a Royals player or coach.
Gates will open at 10:30 a.m. for the 12:05 p.m. CT game.