Maybe I'm Amazed
A month ago, did you think the Royals were capable of winning five games in a row?
Did you think the Royals could sweep the Yankees and follow it up a couple of weeks later with a sweep of the Dodgers?
Kind of fun, isn't it?
Some items of note from Thursday:
• The Royals were able to chase Dodger starter Derek Lowe in the sixth inning without ever hitting the ball hard. Lowe is a groundball pitcher whose fortunes will often depend on the quality of defense behind him. In the sixth inning that defense failed him miserably.
• It was the Dodgers inability to turn a double play, not once, but twice kept the Royals alive in that inning. The beauty is that’s exactly the kind of break the Royals weren’t catching back in April. The ground ball hit by Emil Brown was tailor-made for a double play, but for whatever reason Dodger shortstop Antonio Perez didn’t get in front of the ball. Instead of inning over and a wasted opportunity for the Royals, it’s the tying run in and runners on first and second with one out.
• If Shane Costa keeps up his aggressive play, he is destined to become a fan favorite at the K. His hustle down the first base line kept the Royals out of the other potential inning-ending double play in the sixth. Then, he made it from first to third on a soft liner to right field off the bat of Mark Teahen and was safe only because of a nifty slide to get around the tag. If he was out, it would have been the third out of the inning and we could have called the play reckless. But he was safe, so we can call it good, agressive baserunning.
• Speaking of Teahen, his single in the sixth was a nifty piece of hitting with a 1-2 count. Too often this season, Teahen is falling behind in the count and letting his at bat get away from him. He didn’t let that happen Thursday.
With two chances to turn two, the Dodgers got only one out and allowed the Royals to score two runs. By the time the Dodgers were finally able to close out the inning, the Royals had batted around and six runs had come home.
Ballgame. Five in a row.
• Zack Greinke's struggles continue. Obviously, his line from Thursday looks better than his line from his last outing, but he was going to be hard pressed to top that one. Thursday, Greinke needed 111 pitches to get through five innings and was far from sharp. Runners were on base all night and twice, he worked out of bases loaded jams. That the Dodgers were only able to score three runs is more an indictment of their offense than anything else. If Greinke had pitched like that against almost any other team in the league, he would have been shelled.
• Jeremy Affeldt isn’t happy with his role on the club. He wants to be the closer and isn’t pleased he lost his job to Mike MacDougal. Fine. But giving up three runs in the ninth inning of a blowout isn’t exactly the way to make your case, is it? A walk, a single and a double to the first three batters made things uncomfortable enough for Buddy Bell that he had to get MacDougal warmed up in the bullpen, just in case Affeldt couldn’t seal the deal. Memo to Affeldt: If you’re going to complain about your role on the team, you’d better be able to back it up with your performance.
But enough nit-picking. Today, the Royals own a five game winning streak for the first time in two years.
It’s going to be a challenge tonight for the Royals as Roger Clemens goes for the Astros. A month ago, I’d put it down as an automatic loss. But now, nothing would surprise me. And that is a very good thing.