September 2008

Southpaw Success


9-12 DeJesus2.jpgThe Royals last eight wins have come when a lefty starts for the opposition. Even though Francisco Liriano didn’t factor into the decision, the Royals secured the win.

And tonight they see another southpaw, though Cliff Lee has been Cy Young-caliber all season. Without further ado, let’s get into it and go Around the Horn…

First
With a 30-21 record, the Royals have the best record in the Bigs versus lefties. Going back over the last eight wins, Francisco Liriano started yesterday, before him was Cleveland’s Zach Jackson, all three game versus the A’s (Dan Meyer, Joey Devine and Gio Gonzalez), Detroit’s Kenny Rogers (two times in a row) and New York’s Andy Pettitte (though he wasn’t charged with a loss). 

The Royals, despite at times being left-handed hitter heavy, have racked up some nice numbers versus southpaws. They lead the Majors in hits and doubles (the only team over 100 two-baggers) versus lefties. They’re also third in the American League RBI and batting average (fourth in the Majors in both categories).

As individuals go, Mike Aviles and Billy Butler are both in the top ten in the AL for batting average versus lefties, with Aviles leading all qualifying batters and Butler coming in at sixth. Aviles is also third in slugging and fourth in on-base percentage. 9-12 Guillen.jpgButler and Jose Guillen are hitting for power off lefties as well, ranked fifth and sixth respectively for slugging percentage versus southpaws. Guillen is tied for second in the AL with 37 RBI, tied for fifth with nine homers, tied for sixth with 13 doubles off lefties and tied for second with 22 extra base hits. Butler is tied for eighth with 12 doubles and 10th with 19 extra base hits. Finally, David DeJesus has connected 52 times which is tied for seventh in the AL for hits against left-handed pitchers.

Second
The bullpen stood strong again yesterday. As of late the Royals’ relief hurlers are tossing some solid innings. As a unit, they’ve only allowed three runs in their last 16.2 innings for a 1.62 ERA with just three walks, and 14 strikeouts, which equals 7.6 K’s per nine innings. Opponents are hitting just .175 against them, with only 10 hits in 57 at-bats (only one of which was extra bases.

Over the five games, they have a 1-0 record with two saves and allowed all three runs on Wednesday. Ramon Ramirez has not allowed a run in his last nine appearances and struck out two of the three batters he faced yesterday. John Bale entered yesterday with two on and two out to get a pop-up during the tied game. Ron Mahay shut the door on a Twins’ chance in the sixth with after the Royals starter had given up two straight singles. Mahay struck out his first batter and then induced the rally-killing double-play.

9-12 Tejeda.jpgWith that said, Robinson Tejeda has been announced as the starter for tomorrow’s second game in Cleveland.  Zack Greinke will start Game 1 and Tejeda, who started some for the Rangers earlier this season, will start the game in what most likely will be a “go as long as you can” scenario. The Royals were forced to put Tejeda into action because of a lack of off-days. Monday was a travel day for the team and their next break will be the 25th (13 days and 14 games from now).

Short
Four of their last five extra inning games have been wins for Kansas City and they are 7-6 when playing past nine…Joakim Soria made history two more times yesterday with his 36th save. He’s tied with Jeff Montgomery’s 1998 save total for sixth best in franchise history and sits all by himself with 53 during his career, which is one shy of Roberto Hernandez for fourth place on the team’s all-time saves list. His 36 saves and 92.3 conversion rate are both second in the American League…Don’t forget about the FSN-KC make-up broadcast on Thursday at 1:10 versus Seattle…Or “Shirt Off Their Backs” night on September 20, when you could win a game-worn jersey for just a dollar raffle ticket…Also, next Wednesday at 11:30 at is the next Legends Luncheon. Manager Trey Hillman and General Manager Dayton Moore will be speaking.


9-12 Bees.jpgThird
Now at 6-0 in the playoffs, the Burlington Bees need just one win to secure the Midwest League crown. Johnny Giavotella homered for the second straight day and led a 16-hit Bees’ barrage with three hits and three RBI.

Alex Caldera combined for a four-hit shutout as the Bees’ cruised to a 12-0 win in their final game at Burlington’s Community Field this season. The series moves to South Bend tonight and will play on Saturday and Sunday if necessary in Indiana. (Bee’s broadcast available here).

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Ducky toes the rubber for the final game in Minny

9-11 Duckworth.jpgGame 3 in Minnesota is this afternoon, which is coming up quick (12:10 first pitch).

So, quickly, let’s go Around the Horn…

First
Brandon Duckworth is on the hill, looking to bounce back from his first loss of the season. He’ll look to regain the command he held during his first two Major League starts, both wins over the Tigers. Ducky is 1-1 versus the Twins with a 3.93 ERA in four games (three starts).

9-11 Olivo.jpgSecond
Ryan Shealy and Miguel Olivo are back in there today.  Both are guys the club is taking a long look at this September, trying to figure out what they’ve got to offer the Royals in the future. Shealy has been on base every game he’s played in so far (four) and Olivo smacked his 12th homer of the season on Tuesday night, which is just four short of his career high (2006 and 2007) despite playing in significantly fewer games.

Short
The Royals have seen a train of lefties as of late, with three throwing during the Oakland series, two more versus the Indians and Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano today. The Royals are 29-21 with a lefty starting for the opposition and factor to see two more lefties during this weekend’s four game series in Cleveland…Trey Hillman will announce his starter for Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader later today…Next Thursday game at home versus Seattle will be an FSN-KC broadcast. It is a makeup for the May 3 postponement. 


9-9 Burlington.jpgThird

The Burlington Bees are 5-0 in the playoffs and need just two wins to finish off South Bend for the Midwest League Championship. They put together a 6-0 win last night, over the Silverhawks, powered by three home runs and 14 strikeouts thrown by four Bees’ hurlers.

Mike Moustakas, the Royals 2007 No. 1 overall draft pick put Burlington on the board in the third with a three run homer. Jamar Walton and Johnny Giavotella each added a homer and Giavotella also drove in a run on a single.

The Bees were paced by Daniel Gutierrez who three six innings of two-hit ball and fanned 11 while walking one. South Bend only had one other base runner (on an error in the ninth), as the Bees bullpen worked three quick innings of relief, striking out three.

Burlington goes again tonight at 6:30 CT at Community Field (Bee’s broadcast available here).

Today’s lineup:
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Olivo C
Shealy 1B
German LF
Teahen 3B
Callaspo 2B

Duckworth P

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Shirts off our backs

9-10 Gordon.jpgA week from Saturday, you – the fan – have an opportunity that doesn’t come along all the time. It’s your chance to get a game-worn Royals jersey – literally minutes after the game.

Interested? Let’s go Around the Horn…

First
“Shirts Off Their Backs” is a major highlight for Fan Appreciation weekend. For just $1, you can buy a chance to win a game-worn jersey from the White Sox game on September 20. Each of the 35-40 players in uniform will be on hand to sign and deliver their jersey to the winners immediately after the game.

Thumbnail image for 9-10 Dirty.JPGRaffle tickets will be sold throughout the stadium – in the stands, at the gates, booths, etc. The instant scratch win tickets will correspond with a jersey and will guarantee the ticket holder their prize (you must be in attendance to win).

Following the game, winners will be escorted onto the field and be presented with their jersey. Players will sign their jerseys and hand them over. So you might  be  the lucky winner to get an Alex Gordon jersey (he should be off the Disabled List by then) directly from the Royals’ third baseman, complete with dirt stains and his autograph.

All proceeds from the event will go to support Operation Breakthrough, a Kansas City based charity which helps provide a safe, loving and educational environment for children living in poverty. The United Way Agency expanded its facility in 2006, allowing  it  increase the number of children it helps from 353 to 674. The program has been helping Kansas Citians since 1971.


Second
The Burlington Bees start their final series of the season tonight. They will meet the South Bend Silverhawks in Game 1 tonight of the Midwest League’s Championship. Game 2 will be tomorrow night, also at Burlington Community Field. The series then moves to South Bend with at least one game on Friday. It’s a best-of-five series and the final three are scheduled as away games for Burlington.

You can keep up with all of the action at www.gobees.com (free Bees’ radio broadcast).

Short
The Royals bullpen hasn’t allowed a run in its last 9 1/3 innings…Devon Lowery made his second Major League appearance and struck out one. He’s retired 6-of-7 hitters he’s faced in the bigs…Jose Guillen had a RBI double last night during his seventh three-hit game and is tied for the team lead with 39 multi-hit games, with hits in six straight…Longtime captain and Royals slugger Mike Sweeney was released by the Oakland Athletics. Sweeney will most likely undergo microfracture surgery on both knees if he wants to make a bid to play again next season.


Third
Several great deals not to forget about as we approach the final home stand:


Retro-pricing and $5 parking for Seattle, Halfway to St. Paddy’s group deals on September 17, Fuel Up for 40 all homestand long and of course, the always available and ever popular All-You-Can-Eat Seats.

Tonight’s lineup:
Aviles SS
Callaspo 2B
DeJesus CF
Guillen DH
Teahen RF
Gload 1B
Buck C
German LF
Smith 3B

Davies P

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Game 2 in Minny

Tonight’s lineup: Regular Around the Horn later.
Aviles SS
Callaspo 2B
DeJesus CF
Guillen DH
Teahen RF
Gload 1B
Buck C
German LF
Smith 3B

Davies P

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Game 1 in Minnesota

Tonight’s lineup:
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Teahen 3B
Olivo C
Shealy 1B
Gload LF
Callaspo 2B

Bannister P

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Intra-Divisional Damage

9-9 Bannister.jpgThe Boys in Blue are in Minnesota tonight, for the first time since the opening weekend of the season. If your counting, that’s 136 games ago. With un-balanced scheduling, our divisional games have been spread out and come in bunches.

The Royals played Minnesota the first two weekends of the season went over a month without seeing them again, then went two months without a game versus the Twins. Now, we visit Minneapolis twice in three weeks, once on each of the remaining road trips. For a look at how things shake out the rest of the way, let’s go Around the Horn…

First
John Buck was on the radio this morning talking about the season and what’s left to play for. Obviously Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman both have said they want to evaluate certain players to see how they fit into the team’s future. 9-9 Buck.jpgBut Buck also mentioned playing the role of spoiler. He said while he’d rather be in a different position, there is something to be taken from playing well against teams fighting to make the playoffs.

The most publicized example in recent Royals history was in 2006. The Royals entered Detroit in the final weekend of the regular season and swept the Tigers right out of the playoffs, by taking all three games. Detroit finished one game back from the Twins, and finished as the Wild Card team instead of the Central Division Champs. Torii Hunter, who is now an Angel, sent over some champagne to the Royals’ clubhouse during the Twins first trip to Kauffman Stadium in 2007 as a thank you (the Royals eventually had to give the gift back to avoid Hunter getting a fine).

With two series left versus the Twins and one with the White Sox, the Royals stand in a position to have a serious impact on who represents the Central in the playoffs. Currently Minnesota trails Chicago by two and half games, after going 5-9 on their long road trip. The Twins are seven back from Boston in the Wild Card hunt.

So the Royals will see a team desperate for wins this week and face three pitchers whose ERA sits under 4.00 in: Nick Blackburn (tonight, 3.71 ERA), Kevin Slowey (tomorrow, 3.75 ERA) and Francisco Liriano (Thursday, 3.33 ERA). It will be a tough test, but will certainly help with the team’s ongoing evaluation.



9-9 Cota.jpgSecond
The Burlington Bees are the Western Division Champs and are just three wins (best-of-five series) from becoming Champions of the Midwest League. They finished their second sweep of the playoffs on Sunday, downing Cedar Rapids 2-1. Luis Cota was the star of the game, limiting the Cedar Rapids Kernels to one run on three hits in seven innings of work. Cota, a Royals 10th rounder in 2003, had seven K’s during Sunday’s game.

It took the Bees just four wins (two best-of-three series) to get where they are after finishing as the Western Division Champs for the second half of the season. Now they’ve blown through the playoffs, sweeping the Kane County Cougars and the Kernels to become one of the last two teams alive. It’s their first MWL Championship appearance since 1999.

Now they await the end of the Eastern Conference Championship, which is scheduled to resume play after being rained out last night. The South Bend Silverhawks currently hold the 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three series. With a win tonight, 9-9 Moose.jpgSouth Bend would face Burlington tomorrow and Thursday. If the Dayton Dragons win tonight, the series will go to Game 3 tomorrow and the Midwest Championship will open on Thursday with the first two games at Burlington’s Community Field.

Burlington is currently home to the Royals No. 1 overall draft pick from 2007, Mike Moustakas. The third baseman led the MWL in homer with 22 and won the Bees’ Player of the Year Award. He and the rest of the Minor League Player of the Year winners will be at the K to sign autographs on Futures Night, which is the last Friday home game of the season (September 19).

Short
The Royals are 4-2 in September…Mike Aviles has played 82 games now (half a season), and he owns a .324 batting average which is tops among American League rookies. He’s also first in on-base percentage (.354), third in slugging (.476), fourth in doubles (24), fifth in hits (109) and sixth in runs…Tonight’s starter Brian Bannister has a 2.91 ERA over his last three starts, despite a 0-2 record…Zack Greinke made his 100th start Sunday, becoming the third youngest Royal to reach the milestone at 24 years and 321 days. Only Bret Saberhagen (23 years and 133 days) and Jose Rosado (24 years and 286 days) were younger when they reached 100.

Third
We’ve got just one week left here at the K. Around the Horn has been trying to clean out the offices all day in anticipation of the renovations kicking into full gear immediately following the season. On that note we’d like to say thanks to all of the season ticket holders and those who bought advanced tickets. Those of you who moved seats to accommodate the renovation process were extremely helpful and understanding. Thank you!


9-9 Stocking Cap.jpgPromotions list:
Remember retro-pricing for the four games during the Seattle series.
Tuesday 16: Final T-Shirt Tuesday this season. It’s a blue long-sleeve tee for the fall.
Wednesday 17: One last Ink College Night, plus Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day.
Firday 19: Minor League Futures Night, plus Fireworks Friday.
Saturday 20: Stocking caps from FSN-KC. We’ve also added a “Shirts Off Our Backs” promotion in which you can buy a scratch ticket for $1 and have a chance to win one of the jerseys which will be worn that night. More info on this coming soon.
Sunday 21: The final home game of the season. One last Sprint Fun Run and Bob Evans Family and Friends Day.

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Rubber match: Cleveland

9-7 Lee and Greinke.jpgNo full Around the Horn today, we’re going to get into it quick in anticipation of what should be a pitcher’s duel today at the K. Cliff Lee (20-2 2.32 ERA) and Zack Grienke (10-9, 3.67 ERA) square off.

Lee is the American League’s only 20-game winner so far this season and ERA king, while Greinke has put up career highs for strikeouts, quality starts and will probably top his innings and starts highs before the season ends. So, let’s get to it…

Strikeouts are fun
Starters Gil Meche and Zack Greinke are a turning out to be a strikeout tandem that the Royals haven’t seen the likes of for a while. Between the two, they’ve amassed 317 punch outs this season (158 for Meche and 159 for Greinke, which are both career highs). They current sit at No. 5 and 6 in the American League. As a 1-2 punch, they are third best in the A.L. behind Toronto’s A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay who have 386 and the Angels’ Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver who sit at 324.

8-5 Meche.jpgMeche and Greinke are the first pair of Royals starters to go over 150 since 1993 when David Cone (191) and Kevin Appier (186) accomplished the feat. By season’s end, Greinke and Meche might be approaching that lofty air, but for now, look for them to take down the 1997 duo of Appier (196) and Jose Rosado (129) who reached 325.

With Greinke throwing today, look for the Royals tandem to challenge the 1997 duo and for second in the A.L. The Angels aren’t throwing Weaver or Santana and Greinke had 8 strikeouts last Tuesday and is averaging 9.3 K’s a start over his last seven (8.1 this season in 28 starts). 

Couple Other Notes: The Royals are 6-4 this season in rubber games…Joakim Soria tied Dan Quisenberry on the Royals all-time season saves list with his 35th save last night…The Royals hit the road for six tomorrow night with a 3-game series in Minnesota starting Tuesday and begin their final homestand a week from tomorrow with four games against Seattle (RETRO-PRICING). Fan Appreciation ends the final homestand with three games versus Chicago (BE A HOT DOG).

Tonight’s lineup:
DeJesus RF
Aviles SS
Guillen DH
Butler 1B
Teahen 3B
Buck C
Callaspo 2B
German LF
Gathright CF

Greinke P

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Dreary Day at the Ballpark

Tonight’s lineup: Looks like we should start on time… Viva Los Royals!
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Shealy 1B
Olivo C
Teahen 3B
Callaspo 2B
German LF

Meche P

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Double the fun

9-5 Walkoff.jpgWe doubled up the A’s and pulled of two sweeps in a day. The Royals played a lot of baseball (more than expected anyway) and brought home two wins.

With the Royals first sweep of a doubleheader since 2006 and first time sweeping the A’s twice in a season, we’ve got a lot of baseball to talk about, so let’s go Around the Horn…

First
Joey Gathright secured the Royals first win of the night with his walkoff and Ramon Ramirez put the finishing touches on victory #2 with his first career save. And just like that, the Royals completed their first doubleheader sweep since August 18, 2006 (which also happened to be against the A’s). The Royals took yesterday’s games 5-4 and 9-6. The ’06 games were 7-1 and 5-3.

With Tuesday’s win and the Boys in Blue’s first sweep in Oakland in 20 years back in July, the double-dip win gave the Royals a pair of sweeps versus the Athletics. It was the first time we’d broken out the brooms twice in a season since 1988.

K.C.’s offense was working yesterday, collecting 12 hits in Game 1 and 15 in Game 2. The 27 combined hits were the most since the Royals set a record on September 9, 2004 at Detroit with 33 hits during the two games. 9-5 Butler.jpgThe Royals were particularly nasty to the A’s Game 2 starter. Lefty Dan Meyer exited the ballgame in the fourth and was charged with eight runs (seven earned). The Royals went 9-for-17 (.529) with three doubles, two triples and two sac flies against Meyer. 

During both games yesterday, only one Royals’ starter failed to get a hit, with the charge being led by David DeJesus. The Royals outfielder collected a pair of three hit games, falling one hit shy of the franchise double-header record. He entered Game 1 with a .288 average and left Game 2 hitting .296, which is a considerable jump this late in the season. He became the first player in the Majors this season to have at least 3 hits in each games of a double dip.

Billy Butler also continued to dispense damage. His hitting streak is at 10 games and he smashed three doubles between the two games, scoring three times and knocking in three runs.


9-5 Shealy.jpgSecond
So far, the September newbies have had success, though only one has seen real action. Ryan Shealy hit a homer in his first game back and has two RBI in two games.

That will change tonight when Kila Ka’aihue, the Minor League power sensation, takes the field for the first time. K.K., as they call him, ran from first to second last night and even got his uniform dirty. But he entered the game as a pinch runner in the sixth for designated hitter Jose Guillen and never came up to bat.

Manager Trey Hillman asked Ka’aihue if he felt like he was ready for his Major League debut today and K.K. responded, “That happened last night.” Hillman smiled and said, “Are you ready for your first career start as a Major Leaguer?” Ka’aihue told him he thought he could handle that.

“He’s excited and ready,” Hillman told the press during the pregame press conference. Hillman told the media that each call-up was to evaluate the talent in that particular player. They weren’t just rewards for strong play in the minors – if that were the case, Around the Horn could make an argument for a few other guys. No, Hillman said they truly want to evaluate what they have in the September call-ups.

So K.K.’s evaluation kicks into full gear tonight. He’s slotted in at ninth, playing first base.

Short
During Game 2, the No.1-5 hitters (David DeJesus, Esteban German, Mike Aviles, Jose Guillen and Billy Butler) went 12-for-22 (.545)…German and Aviles made some excitement in the Royals fourth when they hit back-to-back triples. Unfortunately, this feat is not a stat Around the Horn can research easily…Alex Gordon’s latest MRI showed healing, but the prognosis of a return is still uncertain…From Trey Hillman’s press conference: Joey Gathright said he was focused on where the third baseman was playing him during the Royals’ 10th yesterday. He saw Jack Hannahan was in tight and Gathright smacked a single by him and into left. Hillman said the fact the Gathright is noticing where defenses are playing him and then being able to adjust shows progress…Also: The hope is for Mitch Maier (on the DL with three facial fractures) to start taking batting practice again soon and possibly return to the lineup next weekend in Cleveland, the site of his injury…Finally: Omaha Royals manager Mike Jirschele also received a September call-up. He’s with the club to help in coaching the extra players and evaluate the players who played under him all summer.


9-5 Viva.jpgThird
For the second year in a row, the Royals are putting on Hispanic Heritage Night. That’s right…Viva Los Royals!

There will be a pre-game party and concert, featuring sensation Christian Castro, Ugly Betty star Tony Plana, and local favorite Las Estrellas performing with Ram Tejano. The festivities are set for 4 p.m.

9-5 Pena.jpgPackages are available for the event, with donations going to the Guadalupe Centers, Inc.

As part of the night’s fun, Tony Pena, Jr. bobbleheads will be given out to the first 20,000 fans in attendance.

Also: Be on the lookout for Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day on September 17, versus the Mariners.

  

Tonight’s lineup:
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Teahen 3B
Olivo C
Gload LF
Callaspo 2B
Ka’aihue 1B

Duckworth P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Game 1 vs. The Tribe

Tonight’s lineup: Kila Ka’aihue will get his first AB’s after pinch running in Game 2 last night.
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Teahen 3B
Olivo C
Gload LF
Callaspo 2B
Ka’aihue 1B

Duckworth P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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