Did that really just happen?

“Did that really just happen? The Royals won eight games in-a-row and are in the World Series?” I asked my wife this morning.

“Yes,” she said, with a smile.


I watched the Wild Card game from a hotel in Chicago and I was  frustrated. It seemed October baseball wasn’t coming to Kansas City. Down by four runs in the eighth. Jon Lester was being, well, Jon Lester and all seemed lost.

Then, something unreal happened. In my mind, this was the closest thing to the U.S. Olympic Team’s “Miracle on Ice” (or at least my generation’s baseball version of it). The Royals came back, tied the game and won it on a Salvador Perez walkoff single.

From there, the Royals would not be denied. You know the rest. The mighty Angels and Orioles played competitive baseball, but the Royals found ways to win. It seemed like a Disney movie where players are getting superpowers. One opposing player mused that the Royals just willed it when they wanted to score — and they did.

The pitching has been good, the defense has been spectacular and the offense has been just good enough (despite the home run binge in Baltimore).

It’s just like Dayton and Ned drew it up.

Did that really just happen?


Wednesday Notes and Links

Royals Score Early, Beat Rangers To Sweep Series
Wait, we swept the Rangers? Wow!

Soria, Duffy Look To Chen, Who’s Already Had Tommy John Surgery
” . . . the good part is they’re going to come back the same, or better.”

If The Royals Can Find Some Starters
The Star’s Lee Judge on this team’s weakest link.

According To Plan?
Royals Authority’s Craig Brown dissects the surprising win over the Rangers.

Wil Meyers Moves Up
Kings of Kauffman takes a look at the move

Duffy’s Done: Tommy John Surgery Likely

We were afraid this news would come after starting pitcher Danny Duffy delivered just 13 pitches Sunday against the Chicago White Sox.

While the 9-1 win was nice, worries were confirmed when Duffy’s MRI showed a torn ulnar collateral ligament. He’ll get a second opinion, but Tommy John surgery is on the horizon for the young pitcher.

The elbow stiffness which caused him to leave Sunday’s game happened before, in April, but before this start, there’s was no warning.

“There was no indication between his last start and this start to show that there was anything wrong with it,” head athletic trainer Nick Kenney told MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel.

And so one of the Royals’ biggest pitching prospects is likely done for the season. Duffy had a 2-2 record and a 3.90 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 18 walks in 27 2/3 innings.


Duffy likely headed for Tommy John surgery (Royals/MLB.com)
Royals’ Duffy diagnosed with torn elbow ligament; surgery likely (Kansas City Star)

Monday Notes and Links

ESPN Weekly Power Rankings
The Royals stay at number 28, behind the Cubs (14-20). If the Royals split the Rangers and Orioles series, could KC move up?

FOX Sports Weekly Power Rankings
FOX moves the Royals up one to number 27, moving past the Cubs.

Frenchy Ends Homerless Drought In Lieu of Mother’s Day Flowers
Ned Yost to Francoeur: “Your mom is here, and you haven’t done (anything) all series. Do something for your mom.”

Star’s Lee Judge: ‘Don’t Get Excited’
There is a saying in baseball: “You’re never as good as you think you are, but you’re never as bad as you think you are, either.”

Chen To Pitch In Opener of the Rangers’ Series
Can he keep Superman Hamilton in the ballpark?

Royals Minor League Notes
Sean O’Sullivan gave up five runs in five innings in an Omaha loss to Fresno.

Opening Day Blues

Let’s face it. Opening Day is awesome and it also stinks.

Let me explain.

The parking is awful. Most of the crowd doesn’t care about the team or game. They won’t be back for game number two. And for the past 700 27 years, it marked the end of the Royals’ playoff chances.

Confetti and All

But, I never been to an Opening Day like this one. In the time it took me to get into the stadium (I’m a “Minor League Blogger, no big perks here”), grab some food and get to my seat in section 425, the game was over.

It was 2-0 when we made it from the outfield to the lower concourse. Five more runs scored on Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar. At the end of 1/2 of an inning, it’s 7-0.


The Royals showed a little life with 12 hits, but only managed one run in the first and two in the fourth, losing 8-3 to Cleveland.

To add injury to insult (no really), Hochevar took a liner from Carlos Santana’s bat off his ankle. X-rays were negative, but he was helped off the field. No word on whether he’ll miss a start.


These are the kind of seats you get when you run an obscure Royals blog. But thanks to my radio buddy for the seats.

As bad as Hochevar fared in the first, he and the Royals bullpen kept KC in it, allowing only one run (an Asdrubal Cabrera homer in the eighth) and three hits after the dreadful start.


Boy, the confetti idea sure did backfire. It was part of the pageantry of Opening Day at The K. Because of wind, the confetti stayed on the field for most of the game.


Before we get crazy here, think about this. If the Royals are within 3-4 games of .500 by mid-June, this can be a productive season. The Tigers might win the AL Central, but we just need to start winning. As bad as the last two games have been (Broxton beaning the A’s around the bases and Hochevar’s awful first inning), there are signs that we could be all right. The hitting will click and I think the pitching can be decent.

No really.

If it makes you feel any better, King Albert and the Angels are 2-5. So are the Red Sox.


Trainers look at Royals catcher Humberto Quintero.

Royals/Angels (Game #02/#03)

What a difference a couple of days makes!
The Royals offense came alive to take two out of three from the Angels after dropping the opener.
We knew the Royals offense would score runs this season. In games two and three the Royals added nice outings by starting pitchers Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez. The bullpen pitched decently and the Royals bats pulled away from the much-hyped Halos with King Albert Pujols.
Nice to Eric Hosmer’s second homer and Billy Butler’s first during the series. Leadoff hitter Alex Gordon is struggling, starting off the season 0-for-13. Manager Ned Yost said he may give Gordon the night off in the series opeer in Oakland. Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain have also started slowly, at 1-for-11 each.
While Sanchez had a good outing on Sunday, it wasn’t without blemishes.
Sanchez threw two wild pitches and had an errant throw on a pickoff attempt.

Royals/Angels (Game #01) Location, Location, Location

Successful pitchers throw strikes.
That’s something the Kansas City Royals have struggled with during this long playoff drought. Ultimately, one could argue that it led to pitching coach Bob McClure’s end on manager Ned Yost’s staff.
For six innings Friday night, Bruce Chen threw enough strike to keep the Los Angeles Angels (and their new “Superman” slugger Albert Pujols) off balance, holding them scoreless.
Then came Aaron Crow, who struck out the side and things looked bright.
All of a sudden during Crow’s second inning of work, 1-0 and 2-1 counts became more commonplace. The trouble continued with Greg Holland. The Angels (who are good hitters even without Pujols) took advantage.
Boom. Five run inning.
The Royals offense, which had started and sputtered against a dominant Jered Weaver, never got a runner past second. The Angels cruised to a 5-0 Opening Day win.
For all of the (mostly deserved) praise the bullpen has received and all of the (mostly deserved) scorn the starting rotation has been given, the key is throwing strikes.
Chen won’t blow by hitters at 84 miles per hour. But he was content to let his defense do the work and located the ball pretty well.
When the pitching staff learns to locate consistently, the Royals will turn the corner.
Don’t worry, we have the offense.

The Problem With Frenchy’s Signing

Hint: It’s not that the Kansas City Royals signed outfielder Jeff Francouer to a two-year extension.

It’s some of the media and some of the fan bloggers who pick their favorites and pick their goats early and think that being a Major League Baseball general manager is just like playing MLB ’11 on their PS3.

Has Franceour been a consistent performer? No. Can he be a consistent performer? Maybe.

The jury is still out.  No, really.

He’s only 27. Not 30. And it’s not a 5-year, $55 million contract. It’s a 2-year, $13.5 million deal.

“It won’t last,” the detractors chant, picking statistics they like and ignoring the ones the don’t.

These are the same folks who were calling for Alex Gordon’s head on opening day (How’s that working out for ‘ya?). Over and over, they banged the drum for Kila Ka’aihue (Not looking good so far).  But, they won’t remind you of that.

This is just something to think about it when the Royals “hipsters” pull their “we love all minor league prospects and hate free agent signings that we didn’t think of” shtick.

That’s What Winning Do

Thank you, Kansas City Royals.
Just when this city became engrossed in what worthless Mel Kiper thinks of the Chiefs’ draft picks, the Royals stopped a 6-game skid and swept the Minnesota Twins.
That’s what winning do. (Thank you and get well, Jarrod Dyson)
Now, sports radio hosts in KC have to go back and watch the games, trying to speak from the “insiders” point of view.
“At least for another month,” they whisper to themselves. “They’ll surely collapse by then.”


Could you feel that sinking feeling? I could.
When the Royals embarked on a 6-game road trip on April 22nd, hopes were high. This team could be a contender, I thought. Who knows what will happen? Will they be alive in June? July?
Then, thud.
Every little thing the Royals had been doing poorly began to show. The Rangers and the (suddenly red-hot) Indians made them pay.
But, listen. We are a better team. We have a little pop in our lineup (in the middle of the major leagues in homers; Twins are last) and are leading the American League with a .274 batting average.
We have some speed (including Jarrod Dyson until he sprained his ankle today). The Royals lead the AL with 35 stolen bases.
Yeah, I’m talking about those guys with the interlocking “KC” on the cap.
There’s been some bad too, including a 4.48 team ERA and 101 walks allowed (2nd highest total in the AL), 35 home runs allowed (worst in the AL) and 21 errors (8th worst in the AL).
We got away with some of that in this Twins series. Sean O’Sullivan walked seven in game two and we got away with it. But, we’re not going to always get away with it.
Jarrod Dyson is fast. It was amazing when he tagged up on a fly ball to shallow left field in Friday’s game — and scored.
But, he’s no superman.
While we all love hustle, smart hustle is better. Hopefully, he recovers because he’s a weapon.
The bottom line is that the good teams will make us pay.