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.

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Optimism Watch: .500 Season??

Royals fanatic and blogger Minda Haas put it best when she tweeted.

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE! #Royals

Don’t ask questions. Just enjoy it, Minda. Kansas City is 2-1 — over .500 for the first time since early 2009. After winning two straight games against the Angels in come from behind fashion, it makes me turn my head and wonder. Can we be decent? Not great. Not pennant contenders. Just decent.

All of the “experts” predicted another miserable season at the K. ” Hold on, help is coming from the minors.” We’ve heard it for years since Dayton Moore took over the general manager job in Kansas City. My wife constantly asks me “when this supposed revival is coming.” And for years, I have answered, “Soon . . . I hope.”

But, with Crow and Collins in the bullpen and a patchwork of a rotation that’s not awful but not great either, the pitching has bent but not broke in the first three games. The defense (outside of the three odd errors on Opening Day) has been pretty darn good. Add a running game and some pop from Kila, we could be .500. There, I said it. (Blame me later).

The Royals fan in me is ready for the 8-game skid to follow. You know what I’m talking about. And that’s the key. If the Royals are above .500 (or close) at the end of April, this will be a decent season.

If not . . .

Yeah, here we go again.