Day in, Day out

7-29 Guillen.jpgIt seems like each day, someone new steps to the front of the line to be the hero for the Royals. Last night, Zack Greinke led the way. He was boosted by the offense from Jose Guillen early and Alex Gordon late, but Greinke shut the A’s down.

Tonight, Gil Meche, with a two-game winning streak steps to the front of the line to hopefully be that hero. To see what’s been going on with the Boys in Blue, let’s go Around the Horn…

Zack Greinke set his career strikeout high earlier this season (actually he tied it), but last night he upped it by one. Greinke punched out 11 A’s. Greinke struck out 7 of the nine hitters he faced at least once. Only Kurt Suzuki and Carlos Gonzalez ended the night without being fooled by Greinke.

7-29 Greinke.jpgMore than his K’s though, Oakland hit only .231 against him for the night. That includes the two hits he gave up before being relieved by Ramon Ramirez. In the eighth, Greinke struck out the first batter, allowed his first walk of the night and then gave up the two hits.

Fans can be encouraged by the fact that Greinke wasn’t satisfied with his outing. After the game he told reporters he was rolling and then in the eighth he walked a batter “for no reason,” which got him into trouble.

Greinke’s solid performance came on the heels of good starts by each member of the rotation, which has owned a collective 2.12 ERA over the last five games. During the last turn, Royals starters have allowed just seven runs in 29.2 innings. Oh, and you know what the best thing about a rotation is? It comes back around again. So good news, tonight’s starter is Gil Meche, the man who started the recent starting surge and the man who has a 2.67 ERA over his last nine starts.

It’s said that hitters will feed off each other. The Royals are doing that right now. They have 10 homers since the break, nine of which have come during multi-homer games. Billy Butler and Mike Aviles did the job on Sunday. Last night it was Jose Guillen and Alex Gordon with homers of their own.

7-29 Gordo.jpgGordon and Aviles both racked up three-hit games last night and Butler, who’s been strong since the All-Star break, was also on base three times, reaching once with a walk.

Butler was at first for Gordon’s homer and Aviles was on when Guillen powered one out despite fighting a nagging groin injury. For Aviles, it was just another run scored.

But statistically it was more than that. He’s the second best hitter in the Majors during the first inning (minimum 25 at-bats). He holds a .467 average which trails only San Diego’s Scott Hairston who is hitting .471 during the first frame. Aviles is 10-for-15 in his last 15 first inning at-bats, a .667 average.

A big Around the Horn shout-out goes to the Elias Sports Bureau for that fun fact.

Mike Aviles is tearing things up among American League rookies (he’s mentioned about half-way through this video which was produced at the break and escaped Around the Horn until now) despite having played about half as many games as the leaders. He’s sixth with 17 multi-hit games, fourth with seven three-hitters, fifth with 22 extra base hits, second with a .489 slugging percentage and he’s first with a .314 average…Joakim Soria tied the single-season saves record for a Mexican-born pitcher with his 28th last night. The record was set by Juan Acevedo in 2002 with Detroit…The temperature at first pitch last night was 57 degrees in Oakland.  A far cry from the hot and stickiness of KC recently.

A big homestand against three playoff contenders starts this weekend. First it’s the Sox (of the white variety) for three, then its the Sox (red this time) for three and then the Twins close the stand out with a weekend series.

7-29 Military Hat.jpgAs we’ve been mentioning, this Saturday’s game is special for two reasons. It’s Military Apprecitation Day with camo hats being given out to the first 20,000. Around the Horn heard today there will be an enlistment ceremony on the field before the game. What is the other big news about the game? It’s been moved from a 6:10 start on FSN-KC to a 2:55 start on FOX.

If you missed it, Around the Horn posted its Touch’em All interview on Sunday with Hall of Famers Denny Matthews and Dave Niehaus. Check out the Ford C. Frick Award winners.

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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