Results tagged ‘ San Francisco Giants ’

Rollin' Royals

Sorry for the late post, but time slipped away. As it is, the Royals are leading 4-0 thanks to a David DeJesus triple, 6-23 Aviles signing.JPGa Mike Aviles double and a Mark Teahen homer. Which flows perfectly into what we want to talk about tonight.

The Royals are playing some good baseball right now. They’ve won eight of their last ten and picked up three straight series wins in the process, including the sweep in St. Louis. The Royals are 9-3 against the National League this season after going 10-8 the last two seasons. We still have six games against the Senior Circuit.

Over this hot stretch the Royals have cut 4 games off their division deficit and with that we’re going to go around the horn…

Yesterday was a wild one. As we noted in this space, the Royals came back from a seven-run deficit. Only seven other times in team history have they been able to do that (six seven-run comebacks and a nine-run revival back in 1979).

On the other end of that stick, the Giants suffered their first seven-run collapse in eight years. The only reason, we even bring this up is because of the interesting coincidence involved here. In 2000, the Giants blew a pair of seven-run leads during the same week. One on June 28, a 17-13 final, and one on June 22, an 11-10 final. Yesterday’s date was, in fact, June 22, 2008. And the score, 11-10. Keep your eyes on the score tickers this weekend, the Giants play in Oakland on June 28, 2008.

Let’s talk about Joakim Soria. The kid is lights out. He’s picked up five saves during the Royals hot stretch. 

6-23 Soria.JPGHe’s 20-of-21 in save situations and has a 1.32 ERA in 34 innings. That means only 5 runs have crossed the plate with Soria on the mound. That’s crazy-good. He’s got 35 punch outs. Normally strikeouts are compared to walks (Soria has walked only nine). Let’s try hits. Soria has allowed 18 hits. Opponents are hitting just .154 against him.

The San Francisco Chronicle had a story today about how they are happy the Padres left Soria off their 40-man roster before last season’s Rule 5 Draft. Well, so are we. Yesterday he became the ninth pitcher in team history to have a season with 20 or more saves (the 22nd time). And the last Royal to have 20 or more saves before the All-Star break? 2003 All-Star Mike MacDougal had 24. The Royals pre-All-Star record is 25 by Jeff Montgomery in 1993. We’ll say this, Soria’s got more than a chance to break it.

We’re welcoming two Royals’ alumni back during this series with Rockies Manager Clint Hurdle and Bench Coach Jamie Quirk in the visiting dugout this week in Kansas City…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Mark Grudzielanek is out tonight with a sore back and may be ready to go tomorrow…Also of note: Joel Peralta is back up from Omaha and Jeff Fulchino has been optioned…Hillman said: Fulchino did his job and he was not optioned because of poor performance, but after using so many pitchers in yesterday’s wild win, the bullpen was a little thin and needed help…Peralta is 1-0 with two saves and a 0.00 ERA (18.2 scoreless innings, 9 hits, 6 walks and 19 K’s) in 10 games over his two stints with Omaha .

The Community Relations department has been busy. Today they hosted a PLAY Clinic on the field here at “the K”. The event was co-hosted by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainer’s Society. With a goal of promoting exercise and a healthy lifestyle, members of the Royals Sports Medicine staff led the event, focusing on baseball fundamentals. They were joined by David DeJesus, Jose Guillen, Jimmy Gobble and Trey Hillman.

6-23 Diamond of dreams.jpgAlso this week, the Royals will host a few baseball clinics and has big plans for the Royals off day. 
 Thursday will be the Diamond of Dreams event, which will be held on the field at Kauffman. Royals Charities will be raising money for The Dream Factory. Drinks, appetizers, player appearances, memorabilia auctions and a live band playing at second base are among the many events planned.

We’ll definitely have more on this event as the week progresses. And don’t forget about the Cardinals series this week. (How could you?) Plenty will be going on this weekend with giveaways, more silent auctions and Art Stewart’s Hall-of-Fame induction. Around the Horn will have an interview with the man behind all of the portraits you see in the Hall-of-Fame.


Here’s some of the PLAY Photos from our good friend, team photographer Chris Vleisides.
6-23 PLAY.JPG 
It’s the whole group.

6-23 Guillen.JPGWho better to give tips about a swing then the Royals home run leader and A.L. leader in doubles, Jose Guillen.

6-23 Frank.JPGRoyals Trainer Frank Kyte is leading some exercises.

6-23 DeJesus and Guillen.JPG

David DeJesus and Jose Guillen look on during a hitting drill.


Tonight’s Lineup with highlights from yesterday:
DeJesus CF
Aviles 2B
Gordon 3B
Guillen DH
Olivo C
Teahen RF
Gload 1B
German LF
Pena SS

Bannister P

Here’s today’s Official Game Notes. Also don’t miss out on a re-cap of yesterday’s Negro Leagues throwbacks or Around the Horn’s interview with Giants/ESPN broadcaster Jon Miller.

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Touch 'em All: Jon Miller on constant travel, walking Barry Bonds and night terrors

6-23 Jon Miller.JPG
With the Giants in town over the weekend, one of baseball’s great broadcasters made a pit-stop in Kansas City. Jon Miller, “The Voice of the Giants” for the last 12 years and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Play-by-Play man for the last 19 years, called the Giants versus Royals on Friday. Miller then took off Saturday to Chicago for ESPN’s Sunday Night Game of the Week featuring the Cubs and White Sox with his partner, Joe Morgan. Miller has worked in baseball for 30 years and called 11 World Series. He’s also broadcast hockey, basketball and soccer during his career calling sports.

While Miller wasn’t in Kansas City very long, Around the Horn was able to snap a picture of him and set-up an interview for Sunday morning at 8 a.m. (We were probably his wake-up call). Miller was then gracious enough to give us a full 27 minutes of his time (we only asked for 15). In the interest of saving some bandwidth, here is a condensed version of the interview in what we at Around the Horn hope will become a semi-regular feature – Touch ’em All. We’ll be rounding the bases, providing interviews with broadcasters, stadium personalities and anybody else who works in baseball and will give us at least five minutes. Here goes…

Around the Horn: Good morning Jon. How are you doing?
Jon Miller: Good.

ATH: Are you ready.
JM: Yea, sure.

ATH: Alright, let’s do this. Here in Kansas City, we never really got to see Barry Bonds. He came here once in 2003 and we played in San Francisco once, but other than that, we never got to see him up close. How was covering Barry Bonds?
JM: For a broadcaster it was great because Bonds was the most exciting player in the game. Everything in a Giants game, the game really revolved around Bonds. He changed everything. The way the opposing manger managed was dictated by when Bonds was going to be coming up. Bonds would routinely draw walks with nobody on base – intentional walks, which you’d never seen.

Mike Scoscia in the World Series in 2002, would walk Bonds intentionally in the first inning with runners at first and second or a runner at first. He just wouldn’t pitch to him – things that you never, ever saw. One game in 1998 when Buck Showalter was managing in Arizona, he walked Bonds in the ninth inning with the bases loaded intentionally. He actually walked in a run intentionally and actually moved the possible winning run into scoring position. I think the score was 8-7 after he walked him and there was the possible wining run at second base.

So not only did he do remarkable things, but remarkable things happened just because of his presence. In that way, as a broadcaster, it was great for us because there was always excitement.

ATH:  Did you script your home run call of Barry’s record-breaking 756th homer?
JM: I get that question a lot actually and I guess I could’ve. But the job is to capture the moment and how can you do that when it hasn’t happened yet. It’s not really possible to script it. I mean it is, but I just wanted to do it like any other moment that happens. I actually thought of some great lines afterward on my way home.

ATH: Other than the obvious excitement and enthusiasm toward the records, what’s the atmosphere been like in San Francisco when all the TV cameras aren’t there?
JM: The last three years, the Giants were not very good. A lot of those years, Bonds basically missed the whole year. He came back for a couple weeks in September. And then the following year he was there all year but didn’t have a really good year. He finished well, but not the big year we were used to seeing. And last year when he played, he played well. But he had formerly been a guy who could hit for average, hit for power, steal bases and was a great outfielder. The last couple of years, he was not a fast runner anymore. He kind of clogged up the bases and couldn’t really play outfield anymore.

He was really not a National League Player any longer. He had to play the outfield to be in the lineup, but he was not very good at it. So when he was in the lineup – I think he had about 340 or so official at-bats – he was still very good. He had 28 home runs and drew a lot of walks, partly because teams weren’t afraid of anyone else in the lineup.

I think these last three years, the team was not good. The fans in San Francisco were tired of the team. It was an old team all three of those years. It was a team that did not have a lot of energy. They’d win big games in September and maybe win four in a row. And if they could just keep that going, they’d be back in the race. The problem was they’d win four in a row and half the lineup would need the day off. They were exhausted.

So I think fans were tired of that team. And considering that Barry was the face of that team, I think the fans were saying the same thing about Barry. I think a lot of people in San Francisco were unhappy last year that the team re-signed Barry. Because they were bringing back the same, basically old team. They were ready for something new at that point.

ATH: This is probably the most common question you have gotten this year, but how are things different without him?
JM: I think a lot of people wish that Bonds had just retired – announced his retirement and gone out that way, but I guess he felt he could still play. So the Giants said we need to go somewhere different. The net result is that people are very excited about this team, even though the record is not that good. They’re very excited about all the new players.

6-23 Jon MIller box.JPGI think at least eight players have made their Major League debut for the Giants this season. They’ve gone deep into the farm system. We’ve seen a lot of players we’ve never seen before and we’re finding out that some of them can actually play. The best of them seem to be the young pitchers like Lincecum and Cain and Wilson, the closer. Emmanuel Burriss has been a great surprise, the young shortstop. He was at A-ball last year and he seems to be the heir-apparent to Omar Vizquel.

It’s funny, the attendance is down, but I think they’ll still draw 3 million fans. People are very excited about this team, even though the record isn’t very good because they are seeing the future start to form right before their eyes. And after three bad years, I think people are very excited about it.

ATH: It seems like the fans in San Francisco may have something in common with the fans here in Kansas City. The anticipation here is peaking with a new manager and several young players growing on the field.
JM: Hey, those of us who were there Friday night were struck with the similarities. Not only did the teams have identical records, everything about the results was identical as well – their runs scored, runs allowed. But also the make up of the club with some veterans to kind of show the young guys the way and then a whole lot of young talent.

It could be that on the field, for everyday players, the Royals may be ahead of the Giants. Alex Gordon, although he hasn’t fully blossomed yet, has the tools to be a star player. I don’t think the Giants have anybody in the field yet that you would look at and say ‘Well that guy’s going to be the best player on the field.’ Gordon still has the ability to be that. They’ve also got guys like Greinke and Hochevar and guys like that in the rotation that I think have the tools that they can be outstanding pitchers. If that pitching comes along, that’s what makes a team competitive.

The Royals I think just had that one bad stretch for two weeks. And I think they play in a tougher league than the Giants. It’s like NCAA college basketball; their strength of schedule is above the Giants. Everybody in the Giants division has a losing record except Arizona. And the Diamondbacks, after a great start to the season, have not played well for a long time. They are kind of living off that great start, otherwise over the last six or seven weeks, they have kind of fallen off the table like everybody else.

Obviously, the American League Central is one of the most competitive divisions with the White Sox and Cleveland and Detroit. Those are some monsters in that division. And even outside of the division you have to play the Red Sox, Tampa Bay, the Yankees and Anaheim and what not. So I think the Royals play a tougher schedule so they may already be beyond the Giants even though their records are very similar. Although ironically, it may be that their task is more difficult climbing back into being a contender.

ATH: So, you’ve got it set. Working for the Giants during the week and then every weekend you take off to work for ESPN. You’re set.
JM: I think I get the big money for the flying. No, once I’m actually in the cities, I just have to be prepared, go to the ballpark and work the game. I get to go to the park everyday. It’s fun being able to get away and see other teams other than the Giants and the National League games. I get to go to Fenway and catch Yankees-Red Sox. Or like, this weekend, see the Cubs-White Sox, which I think is one of the most exciting interleague series. Or leave the Giants and go see a couple of American League teams play. So, I have sort of the best of both worlds.

There is a lot of travel. The Giants on this trip are going to Kansas City and Cleveland. I’m going Kansas City, Chicago and then Cleveland. After a Thursday night game in Cleveland, the Giants go home and they play Oakland next Friday. It’ll be one of those nights where they get in like two or three in the morning. And then make the drive over to Oakland. So I’ll do that one game and then turn around and fly back to Chicago next Saturday for next week’s Cubs-White Sox game.

So occasionally, travel can be a little brutal. But I still wouldn’t want to trade jobs with many people. I think I’ve still got the best job going. That’s the trade-off. In the eight months of the season when I go to Spring Training until the World Series is over, I’m probably away from home, five months out of that time. It’s not ideal but that’s the job and I’m fortunate to have it.

Every once in a while I wake-up in a sweat in the middle of the night and I realize I’ve just had a nightmare and they tell me “Baseball has gone away and you’ll have to get a real job.” Talk about a night terror.

ATH: Jon, that wraps it up for us. Thank you so much for your time this morning.
JM: Great, thanks a lot.

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Honoring the past, playing for the present

6-23 Aviles at second.JPGSorry for the late post… It’s been a long day, you know with the four-hour game, the seven-run comeback and the end to a Giant weekend (we had to get one more in before they left town).

We wanted to get this up, we’ve got a good story:

Royals outfielder Joey Gathright has a sense of history. He understands what the game he plays was built upon. He volunteered to don Jackie Robinson’s uniform number earlier this season to honor the man who broke the color barrier. He was one of four Royals to do so on Jackie Robinson Day this year. 6-23 High Fives.JPGGathright credits Robinson with influencing his education and showing him the opportunity in the world of baseball.

Today gave him another chance to honor the history of the game, while making some Royals’ history too. After all, seven-run comebacks don’t happen everyday. They are pretty unique. And Gathright had the game-winning hit, while wearing the same jersey Robinson did – a Kansas City Monarchs’ jersey.

It was Salute to the Negro Leagues Day held in conjunction with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. It was the second largest comeback in Royals history (nine runs is the largest deficit the Royals have ever overcome along with six other seven-run comebacks).

Technically, Gathright didn’t actually wear the same jersey Robinson wore. Robinson played for the Monarchs in 1945 only. The uniforms the Royals wore today honored the 1951-52 Monarchs. The Royals did wear Robinson’s jersey last season in honor of the 60th anniversary of Robinson playing in the Majors. Over the years, the Royals have also worn the 1924, 1942, 1945, 1948 and 1949 uniforms.

6-22 Monarchs 2.JPGDirector of the Royals Hall of Fame Curt Nelson said the Royals will try to pair their uniforms with a historic date in Monarchs history, like Robinson’s 60th Anniversary year, his lone year with Kansas City (1945 and 2005) and the Monarchs’ first championship (1924 and 2004).

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants put on throwbacks honoring the 1927 Royal Giants, a team which barnstormed up and down the California coast and traveled abroad. With roots in northern California, the all-star team traveled to Hawaii, Korea and Japan hoping to spread the game. The Royal Giants went 35-2-1 on the Goodwill Tour.

6-22 Lincecum.JPGThe tour’s impact, along with the other Negro League teams and Major League all-stars who traveled abroad, is still felt today. Two Japanese pitchers threw today (The Royals’ Yasuhiko Yabuta and The Giants’ Keiichi Yabu). Trey Hillman managed in Japan and the country won the inaugural World Baseball Classic. There is even a team in Japan called the Yomiuri Giants which formed in 1936. Coincidence?

Nelson said today’s Giants uniforms were based almost solely off one picture of the barnstormers. The only picture the Negro Leagues Museum had. It features Hall of Famer Raliegh “Biz” Mackey and a few other Royal Giants players. They are wearing grey pin-stripes with an interlocking “RG.”

6-22 Giants 2.JPG“We only have the one black and white picture,” Nelson said. “So we don’t really know what color that ‘RG’ was, so we took a little bit of license.”

Nelson said Ray Doswell, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Curator, believes the jerseys featured a brownish-orange or brownish-yellow logo.

Nelson said a lot of teams call the Royals for advice on their Negro Leagues throwbacks. A very non-exhaustive search turns up quite a few examples of throwbacks over the last couple of years, including the Oriolesthe Cardinals, the Nationals, and the Brewers who played the Royals in Milwaukee last season. 

But it all originates in Kansas City, with the Museum being the defining authority on uniform accuracy and respectfully honoring the past. The Royals have been partnering with the Museum since 1994. Gathright has been here for three of them and he said was significant.

“They paved the way for me and to wear the uniform of the Monarchs, one of the major teams in that league, is very special. And it’s even better to get the game-winning hit on a day like today.”

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