Six runs in the first inning?!?
Lima wasn’t in the game to give the runs back by the third?!?
The Royals stayed in control the entire game and won?!?
Well, maybe that is a bit of hyperbole, but it did feel nice:
• The six runs the Royals scored in the first, matched their best inning of the season. (5/8 @ Baltimore) But really, what was so great about it was all six runs were scored with two outs. Credit goes to Emil Brown with a double that drove in the first two, keeping the inning alive before John Buck capped it off with a two run homer. Buck is now batting a robust .204/.256/.343 on the season. He’s five for his last 10 with two doubles, the aforementioned home run and four RBIs. Maybe, just maybe, he’s coming alive at the plate.
• With seemingly every Royals player on the DL (Swingin’ Ken Harvey is the latest casualty) the Royals summoned Ryan Jensen from Omaha to fill a hole in the rotation. Jensen did well, pitching five solid innings. In his lone full season in the majors (2002) he was a flyball pitcher (.83 ground out to air out ratio) but Sunday was ridiculous. Of his 15 outs recorded, three were strikeouts, three were ground outs and nine were in the air. Leaving the ball up in the zone against the Cardinals is no way for a pitcher to make a living. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.
• Short reliever Leo Nunez continued his strike-throwin’ ways in throwing three innings of one hit ball. My first reaction when hearing a reliever like Nunez pitched three innings is usually, “What?!? What the hell is the manager thinking?” But I’m really liking the way Bob Schaefer is using the bullpen. Nunez needed only 26 pitches to work his three innings and threw 21 of them for strikes. In other words, he was dealing and not working very hard at all.
That Schaefer left him in the game shows he thinks outside the box. We always hear about pitch counts for starters, but the measuring stick for relievers remains to be number of innings pitched. When discussing a reliever you always hear, “He can give us one inning,” or “He’s someone we can count on for two good innings.”Well if your “one inning” guy can work his inning by throwing only eight pitches (like Nunez did in both the seventh and eighth innings) why can’t he go longer?
Other notes from the weekend:
• I just feel the Royals are getting closer. They were in all three games over the weekend, losing a pair of one run games before winning Sunday. Sooner or later, they will come out on the right side of some of these close games.
• It’s always discouraging when St. Louis comes to town and the split is about 60-40 in favor of Cardinal fans. Its been this way since the start of interleague play and it’s pretty damn depressing. I’m usually able to go to one of the so-called I-70 series games a year and I always have to endure a sea of red.
• Speaking of interleague, this week was “rivalry week.” Is it just me, or does it seem like there isn’t as much hype as years past? It sure seemed that way in Kansas City where attendance for the three games was off almost 18,000 from last year. (118,242 in 2004 vs. 110,563 in 2005)
Hooray! We get to change things up on our managerial odds board.
The Kansas City Star is reporting that former Astros and Angels manager Terry Collins has been contacted by the Royals and has interest in the job. Collins is known for a no-nonsense approach that has rubbed just a few players the wrong way over the course of his career. Collins is one of those guys that makes his team competitive, but for whatever reason, they just have a hard time clearing that final hurdle. In each of his five full seasons as manager, he’s finished second all five times. Collins has the experience, the fire and he’s currently working under Paul DiPodesta as the minor league director for the Dodger organization. Let’s rate his chances as above average. He’ll go on the board just behind Art Howe at 8-1.
We'll add a couple of other new names as longshots: Gene Lamont and Bobby Valentine. Valentine is on the board really just for fun. Lamont is a more serious candidate, but has yet to be contacted by the Royals.