Results tagged ‘ Mike Aviles ’

Legends Luncheon – Part 2: The Club through Trey Hillman's eyes

9-18 Buck.jpgYesterday we gave you a piece of the conversation held at the Crosstown Station between General Manager Dayton Moore, manager Trey Hillman, and former players Al Fitzmorris and Willie Wilson. Today we’ll bring you the rest of what was said during the final State Farm Legends Luncheon. For more information on the luncheons please visit www.thebestofbuck.com. The Luncheons are in honor of Buck O’Neil and have supported the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (www.nlbm.com) for nine years.

Part one of the Luncheon recap yesterday focused heavily on Moore and building the Club’s minor league system. Wilson, as a one-time Royals farmhand, put in his two cents about how to build the club as well.

Today, Around the Horn wants to focus on what Hillman had to say about his first year as a manger. We’ll preface Hillman’s comments by saying that after the conversation between the four men on stage finished, the audience was allowed to ask questions. One woman asked both Hillman and Moore what their best and worst decisions were since joining the Royals. Moore told the crowd his greatest baseball decision to this point was the hiring of Trey Hillman to manage the Royals.

9-18 Trey.jpgMoore fells so strongly that he has the right man he barely hesitated before responding. He sees in Hillman a desire and work ethic fit for the job. Two examples of that are Hillman’s seemingly tireless work while in spring training. Hillman would be on the back fields working with the minor league players long after the Major Leaguers had showered and left the complex. No one asked Hillman to do it, he just did.

In the same manner, he was at the Royals pre-draft workout hitting fungos to prospects who weren’t even in the organization yet. Moore said these are the types of things no other manager in the Majors is doing but they make the young players want to play for Hillman. If that kind of environment can be created, then a pride and desire to wear the Royal uniform will be created. Something Around the Horn wrote about yesterday in talking about strengthen the farm system.

Needless to say the fan was pleased and said she truly believes that Hillman and Moore are the best people in baseball today to take on the job of building a champion in Kansas City.

9-18 Trey 3.jpgWhen Hillman took the job, the first thing he did – which was his answer for his best decision – was to start talking to players but also to start raising the expectations. Hillman said he was wearing out his cell phone while he was still in Japan talking to people in the organization from players to publicity folks to the baseball minds. He did say not to mention this fact to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, his club last season in Japan. So keep that on the down-low.

The expectation of the 2008 Royals was to win the World Series. That was Hillman’s best decision. He told people before the season, “If you aren’t aiming for a championship, you can’t win one.” He also knew that 2008 was going to be a season where a lot of questions needed to be answered.

Since Moore’s arrival, the team needed to address some issues like adding a front-line starter and a slugger to the lineup. Moore has done both of those things with Gil Meche, who was considered a middle-tier free agent when he signed, and Jose Guillen, who has come with some controversy but is an impact to the lineup. These players believe in what’s going on in Kansas City and want to win, which is where Hillman is coming from. He wants to win.

9-18 Soria.jpgThis season hasn’t been the easiest. Hillman said probably one of his other decisions that could go either way was not to use Joakim Soria during the 12-game losing streak. Using the Royals All-Star may have won that game, but the what-ifs can go both ways. Hillman is content to know that Soria is healthy and still pitching at an extremely high level. Had he been used on short rest during the streak, who knows what may have happened.

For the first-year manager, Soria is a bright spot. He heard so much good about the closer during spring training but didn’t see it. Soria didn’t pitch like an All-Star in the spring. But he turned it on once the season started. Hillman said he was amazed that he had 39 (now 40) saves on a team that had less than 70 wins.

Hillman was also impressed with Mike Aviles. He told Moore that Aviles would make an impact on this ball club during the spring. However, Hillman didn’t think the rookie would make this much of a difference to the 2008 team. Likewise with Ryan Shealy. During their demotion meetings, both players were somewhat upset but quickly turned around their feelings to a desire to work and get better.

Another question and answer was Zack Greinke. They wanted to see him stay healthy and stay consistent in the rotation for a full year. 9-18 Greinke.jpgGreinke has matured and blossomed this season. Hillman said he’s become a pitcher and not just a thrower. One of the key’s for Greinke (who starts today) is to pitch around 91-92 mph and keep his 96-97 mph heater in his back pocket to break out every once in a while and baffle a hitter. Greinke has done that and so much more. He has become a student of the game.

Fitzmorris said that he and the pitchers on his teams were constantly talking to hitting coach Charlie Lau. They wanted to know how hitters thought about hitting. Hillman said this team is becoming students of the game in the same manner. He hopes that the inefficiency of the starters comes as a bit of a “slap in the face” and spurs them to work more. Look at what Kyle Davies accomplished two nights ago. That is a perfect example. Hillman said that if Davies can reproduce 75 percent of what he did on Tuesday he will be a solid performer. True, its one start and this late season surge is in September. But Hillman likes to live by a saying he got from Moore.

“Believe in what you see and not what you hear,” Hillman said.

Short
For starters, congratulations to Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki. He received a warm ovation from the Kauffman crowd when he collected his 200th hit of the season last night. With the hit, Suzuki tied a Major League record and broke the American League record by recorded eight straight seasons with at least 200 hits. He broke Wade Boggs’ A.L. mark of seven (1983-89) and tied Wee Willie Keeler (1894-1901)…Jose Guillen and Alberto Callaspo have career high hitting streaks going at 14 games and 11 games, respectively…Ryan Shealy homered for the second straight night, the second time he’s accomplished the feat this season (third in his career)…The Royals are riding a season-high six-game winning streak and have 11 homers during the streak…Joakim Soria is one of three Royals pitchers to record a 40 save season and currently has the fourth best season in team history behind Jeff Montgomery’s 45 in 1993 and Dan Quisenberry’s 45 in 1983 and 44 in 1984.

Today’s lineup:
DeJesus LF
Aviles SS
Guillen DH
Shealy 1B
Teahen RF
Olivo 21
Gordon 3B
Callaspo 2B
Maier CF

Greinke P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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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).

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Not feelin' blue in blue


8-25 Duckworth.jpgWhen it was announced the Royals would be bringing the powder blue back, fans were rabid. Everyone seemed excited.

Why? Powder blue symbolized the World Series, the playoffs and the glory of the franchise.

This year is a “New. Blue. Tradition.” And we can assure you, something good is going on with this color. We’ve decided that today we’re going to chat about light blue, so let’s go Around the Horn…

First
Mark Teahen and Jose Guillen powered the powder blue-clad Royals to a win yesterday. Light blue is apparently a strong statement for the Royals and we’re not talking about just fashion8-25 Teahen.jpg. Teahen had a big role in the Royals’ last blue beatdown. He scored the winning run on Tony Pena’s walk-off single in extras versus the Twins. And yesterday he provided again, knocking in three.

Guillen apparently likes blue as well, as he’s contributed 12 homers during day games (not all of those have been at home), including his monster shot into the construction area in left during the second inning (if you haven’t been paying attention and missed Around the Horn’s renovation update a few weeks back, that ball will be a souvenir next year).

The powder blue jerseys were set to be alternates. They were planned to be worn just on Sundays. But they became a home day game staple and have been on the backs of the Boys in Blue for every game under the sun minus the home opener. And what have they done in them? 11wins. 5 losses. Yep. The Royals are 11-5 wearing powder blue.

Those jerseys have provided some memorable moments too from the moment they debuted in their lone night game back on April 12… including the first home run of Mike Aviles career, Pena’s walk-off winner and back-to-back 19 hit attacks versus the White Sox, one of which was showcased on the FOX national broadcast.

Second
Royals fans have been clamoring about Kila Ka’aihue all season. Now that the end is near for the Minor Leagues, 8-25 Kila.jpgthe Hawaiian is seeing some of the positives from his monster season. He was named Texas League Player of the Year today in a vote by managers, beat writers and play-by-play announcers. In case you forgot, Ka’aihue was promoted to Triple-A about a month ago. He was that good.

His 26 home runs still lead the Texas League (he’s up by three) and his 80 walks are tied for the lead entering today’s play. As Billy Butler (a former Texas League batting champ) might say and did while he was in the Texas League, Ka’aihue raked this season. He compiled 79 RBI and scored 64 runs in 91 games with a .463 on-base percentage and a .624 slugging percentage. With Triple-A Omaha, Ka’aihue hasn’t missed a beat. Hitting .341, he has nine homers and 17 RBI in 25 games.

Dan Cortes, 9-4 with a 3.98 ERA was also named to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star Team. Cortes’ nine wins are tied for the most in the league and he’s fifth with 106 Ks. He’s gone 7-1 since the All-Star break and is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts this month.

Short
Alex Gordon is also a former Texas League Player of the Year, taking that title in 2006…Brandon Duckworth’s win yesterday was his first as a starter since June 24, 2006 and his first win in the Majors since September 25, 2007…Duckworth was the 15th different Royal to record a win this season…Robinson Tejeda’s August numbers: He is averaging 12.4 K’s per nine innings and opponents are hitting just .093 against him….Mike Aviles is hitting .448 during his current seven-game hitting streak…The Royals are 12-4 during day games at home…12-4 is also the Royals record when Jose Guillen homers.


8-19 Soria.jpgThird
Texas is in town for three and tomorrow is Joakim Soria T-Shirt night. The shirt is a tribute to his All-Star appearance and Around the Horn is a big fan of the tagline “Closing Soon”.

With three left this week/this month, the Royals home dates are dwindling down. Just four clubs come to town in September and only 13 games are slated to be played before we close our doors…until the Grand Re-Opening event next April!

Upcoming events: Be a Weiner. Viva Los Royals.

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

Meche P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Game 2 vs. Minny



7-28 Aviles Safe.JPGShort
Zack Greinke returns to the hill tonight, looking to return the starters to form and extend his career high win total to 10…Mike Aviles grabbed his fourth four-hit games in his short career last night and raised his average to .341, which leads all MLB rookies…Aviles is also a scoring machine (the picture at right is him beating a play at home last weekend versus the White Sox). He’s plated 12 runs in his last 11 games…David DeJesus returned to the lineup last night and knocked in the Royals’ run. He tied his RBI total from 2005 and 2006 and needs two more to reach his 2007 total of 58…DeJesus’ RBI also upped is Major League leading RISP average to .437.

Thumbnail image for 8-8 Soria.jpgVote now for Joakim Soria’s nickname. The choices are El Lobo (The Wolf), El Castigador (The Punisher), The Mexicutioner and The Terminator. It’s up to you.

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

Greinke P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Starting another lap

8-5 Gordo.jpgThe Royals are running, not on the base paths or away from opponents. But right at them…with their arms. The pitching is showing fans what they should be able to expect for several years with three 24-year olds, a second-year pitcher who drew Rookie of the Year consideration and a 2007 All-Star who’s signed for three more years after this one.

Gil Meche (the 2007 All-Star) went right after the Red Sox last night and the Royals won their third in a row and eighth in their last 11, dating back to Meche’s win on July 24 over Tampa Bay. To catch up with the rolling Royals rotation, let’s go Around the Horn…

First
The starters are starting their third lap around since the pitching surge began. Gil Meche has compiled three victories, allowed just four earned runs in 20 innings (1.80 ERA) and struck out 21 during his three turns. 8-5 Meche.jpgMeche’s win last night put him over .500 for the first time this season, thanks to his 7-1 record and a 2.66 ERA over his last 11 starts.

While Meche has been the horse, the rest of the rotation has done its work as well. Their composite record over the 11-game stretch is 7-2 with a 3.03 ERA. Meche, Zack Greinke, Kyle Davies, Luke Hochevar and tonight’s starter Brian Bannister have allowed 22 earned runs in 65.1 innings with 52 K’s.

Tonight Brian Bannister is looking to extend the stretch and get a win for himself. Bannister recorded a career-high for strikeouts last Wednesday in Oakland, but settled for a no decision in a game the team eventually won in extras. He’ll face a Boston team which fell one K short of its season high (13) last night.

Second
Mike Aviles may not qualify for the official batting title, but he qualifies for the rookie title and he sits 30 points higher than any other first year player – in either league. The White Sox’ Alexei Ramirez entered today at .308 compared to Aviles’ .338.

With his honors as Royals player of the Month for July and Co-American League Player of the Week being announced yesterday, 8-5 Aviles.jpgAviles officially announced himself to the rest of the Majors. But he’s been hurting opponents for virtually all of his two-month career. Once he got his feet settled under him, he busted out.

As always, the League adjusted. He slumped briefly (his average never dropped below .273) and then he adjusted back. Around the Horn overheard hitting coach Mike Barnett talking about Aviles earlier today. He said he told Aviles what pitchers were doing to him to frustrate him by pounding him with fastballs inside and then getting him to chase sliders out of the zone, down and away. Barnett told Aviles to return to what he does best. Aviles went out the next day in Tampa and, in a 10th inning at bat, laid off three fastballs up and in. All were called for balls. He laid off another slider down and away which caught the plate for a strike. Then he made the Rays’ Dan Wheeler pay by depositing the next pitch – a mistake to Aviles’ power zone – into the stands.

Within a few days, Aviles was back to doing what he has established his does best, praying on opponent’s mistakes and spraying the ball all over the park.

Short
The Royals were notified of their pending suspensions for Sunday’s incident with the White Sox. Zack Greinke and Miguel Olivo are both appealing their five-game suspensions…Manager Trey Hillman, however, will serve his one game suspension tonight. Bench coach Dave Owen will take his place at the Royals helm…Mike Aviles has scored at least one run in eight straight games…Joakim Soria has at least one save versus every American League team after picking up his 32nd of the season last night over Boston.


8-5 Gura.jpgThird
This week is the 16th annual Royals Blood Drive. Around the Horn is planning on donating Thursday during the team’s off day. Needles? We’re not scared of needles!

As for promotions this week, Larry Gura will be in town Saturday, both as a Bobblehead (it’s the giveaway that night) and in person (signing autographs from 4:30 to 5:15 on the Royals dugout). Then Sunday is Sluggerrr kids T-shirt day. Hope to see you out here.

Tonight’s lineup:
Aviles SS
German 2B
Teahen RF
Guillen DH
Butler 1B
Gordon 3B
Buck C
Gload LF
Maier CF

Bannister P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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Bo-Sox: the house is packed

8-4 Aviles.JPGBig congrats to Mike Aviles, the Co-American League Player of the Week.

Well, Around the Horn’s predictions yesterday was right. We threw the same lineup out as the day before and we got a season high in runs (14) and picked up 19 hits for the second straight day. So hey, let’s give Miguel Olivo a day off and see if we can make it three straight.

Tonight’s lineup: We’ve had some solid pitching and Gil Meche looks to bring the heat again for the Royals on another steamy August evening at Kauffman.

Aviles SS
German 2B
Teahen RF
Guillen DH
Butler 1B
Gordon 3B
Buck C
Gload LF
Maier CF

Meche P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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All's quiet on the K.C. Front

7-31 Olivo.jpgThe trade deadline has passed and the Royals haven’t changed.

The quiet from the Kansas City front office says that General Manager Dayton Moore likes this team. Yes, there have been some low points this season. But the team is riding a four-game winning streak and has won five of its last seven, including its first sweep in Oakland in 20 years. With the good vibes rolling today, we’re going to look at a few trends and maybe some on-pace numbers…

Winning ways
The Royals have won five of their last six on the road dating back to the All-Star break. If you include their last road game before the break, they’ve won six of seven.

Billy Butler is hitting
He’s got a .289 average and a .578 slugging percentage since the All-Star break. He’s had five homers and 15 RBI in July, with four and 14 post-break.

The pitchers are mowing down opponents
Zack Grienke and Brian Bannister set and tied career highs in K’s with 11 and seven, respectively, in games one and game three of the Oakland series. As a team, Royals pitchers punched out 31 A’s during the series.


6-23 Soria.JPGThe All-Star
At the back of the pen is Joakim Soria – the All-Star. He saved all three games in Oakland and has finished four straight. With today’s off day, he should be recharged to face the Sox over the weekend. And yet again, we’d like to make another plea to ESPN’s anchor desk.  His name is pronounced “Wah-KEEM SOAR-ee-a.”  Not “Joe-ah-kim” like the former Florida basketball player. The man’s an All-Star, treat him like one.

Walking the line
Alex Gordon set a Royals record yesterday with five walks. Gordon didn’t record an official at-bat. He is the second player this season to record five in a single game, but the only player to walk five times in only five plate appearances. The Rangers’ Milton Bradley walked five times in eight trips to the plate on April 16.

Pace-setting
Alex Gordon easily leads the team in walks, with 16 more than Mark Teahen. Gordon is currently at 51 walks and is on pace to have 76. To compare, Teahen is on pace for 52.

7-28 Butler 2.JPGThe Royals currently have four guys with 10 or more homers. The team has another two players sitting at eight and nine dingers. And then Billy Butler and Mike Aviles, who both have time at Omaha this season, are at six round-trippers. If both keep hitting at the pace they are on right now, they’ll reach 10. That amounts to eight Royals with 10-plus home runs.

The 2003 club is the last K.C. team to have eight slug double-digits. Those players were? Carlos Beltran (26), Raul Ibanez (18), Angel Berroa (17), Joe Randa (16), Mike Sweeney (16), Aaron Guiel (15), Ken Harvey (13) and Michael Tucker (13). The ’03 squad ended with 162 home runs for the year.

Butler has played 80 games and according to pace numbers should hit 10 exactly. Around the Horn would like to predict a few more because of his July numbers – five homers in 25 games would be a pace for 32 in a season, which projects to 10.6 over the remaining 53 games.

To be fair, we’ll look at a few predictions for pitching. Joakim Soria, who we talked about earlier this season when he tied Jeff Montgomery’s 1993 pre-All-Star game save record (25), is on pace for 45 saves. He’ll stencil his name into the record books again with that total. It would tie the club record, set by Montgomery in ’93 and Dan Quisenberry in 1983. Monty had an 88.2 save percentage and Quiz ended ’83 with an 84.9. Soria is at 93.7 after saving 30 of 32 games.

7-31 Mahay.jpgRon Mahay, maybe the most reliable man in the bullpen aside from Soria, has 18 holds this year. That’s already third on the Royals all-time list. At his current pace, he’ll reach 27 (26.7) which would fall one short of the team record of 28, set by Jason Grimsley in 2003.

One more note to think about, Zack Greinke has 125 strikeouts. That’s a pace for 186 (185.6, but you round up when talking about the kind of stuff he has), which would place him tied for eighth in the Royals record books.


Thumbnail image for 7-29 Military Hat.jpgThis weekend
An exciting nine-game homestand starts tomorrow with Ken Griffey, Jr. and the White Sox.  Yep, the “kid” and his 600+ homers will make his first appearance at “The K” since 1999. Saturday has a lot going for it. It’s Military Apprecitation Day with camo caps to the first 20,000. It’s a FOX national broadcast and a 2:55 start time.

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Another: The Finale in Oakland

Short
Another solid offensive game last night for the Boys in Blue…Another multi-homer game…Another strong start from Gil Meche and the Royals rotation…Another shave of the head for John Buck…And another save for Joakim Soria who now owns the record for most saves in a single season by a Mexican born pitcher.

It all added up to another win for the Royals, their third in a row.

Tonight’s lineup: Off day tomorrow, so we’ll try to give you another Touch’em All on Friday. Don’t miss our last Touch’em all interview with Hall of Fame broadcasters Denny Matthews and Dave Niehuas.

Aviles 2B
Maier CF
Gordon 3B
Guillen RF
Teahen LF
Butler DH
Gload 1B
Olivo C
Pena SS

Bannister P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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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…

First
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.

Second
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.

Short
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.

Third
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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Girls Night Out Recap

7-26 Girls Night Out.JPGGirls Night Out had it all Thursday, chocolate, massages, manicures, music and of course a two-hour happy hour with plenty of martinis… and oh, yea, a 4-2 Royals win over the Rays.

Team photographer Chris Vleisides waded through the pool of pink that converged on Parking Lot H and sent Around the Horn these images yesterday.

7-26 Girls 1.JPGThis is a view from the stage – the center of the attention. Around the Horn was proud to see such a strong showing from the female population in Kansas City.

Pink and white rhinestone Royals caps were given to the first 20,000 and women who bought the VIP package which included drink vouchers, and tickets also got a free T-Shirt.

7-26 Girls 2.JPGKMBC 9′s Karen Kornacki conducted player interviews with a few Royals who courteous enough to give up some of their preparation time to make an appearance in Parking Lot H.

David DeJesus, Joey Gathright and Mike Aviles answered questions for the crowd assembled around the stage.

7-26 Girls 3.JPGOne of the most popular activities at Girls Night Out this year and last year were the free massages. Massage therapist from around Kansas City set-up inside a tent and and helped relieve some of the ladies’ stress and tension – which is exactly what Girls Night Out is all about.

7-26 Girls 4.JPGHere are some of our happy patrons, stress-free and ready to head into the game.

7-26 Girls 5.JPGFor another perspective of the mass of people, here’s a picture of the women heading into the Stadium after Girls Night Out ended.

 

7-26 Girls 6.JPGAs a part of Girls Night Out, the Royals Charities helped to raise money for the American Heart Association. Before the game, a check for $30,000 was presented to the organization.

The money for the donation was was raised through the group sales VIP packages and straight T-shirt sales during the event. 

 The Royals would like to thank all of the ladies who came out and had a good time. You’re welcome back anytime.

Tomorrow: Look for an Around the Horn Touch ‘em All Interview with Seattle Mariners’ broadcaster Dave Niehaus and Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Mathews, in honor of Niehaus’ induction into Cooperstown tomorrow. 

Tonight’s lineup: 

DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Grudzielanek 2B
Guillen RF
Butler DH
Gordon 3B
Buck C
Gload 1B
German LF

Hochevar P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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