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What Is Going On?!?!

Perhaps the saddest thing about last season for the Royals is that they never at any point won four games in a row. Last year’s team didn’t have the worst record of all time or anything, and didn’t even have the worst record of any Royals team, but they were one of the worst teams in Royals history. That’s how I viewed them anyway. It might have been partially because of how tough they were to root for, which is something I mentioned the other day. Well, this year’s team, as I also mentioned, is quite the opposite of that. And now they have a four game winning streak on their resume. And it only took until the fifth game! 

These guys are fun to watch. They never give up, which is admirable, and also a trait that allows the fans to really connect with a team. Last night, they were down quickly. The game started at 7:10 and by 7:12 it was 4-0 White Sox. My initial reaction was to pack it in for the night because the old Royals would have laid down and died and Gavin Floyd would have had a three hit shutout. Luckily for me, these aren’t the old Royals and I was quite wrong. Alex Gordon hit his first homer of the year in the bottom of the first that cut the lead in half and then in the bottom of the second, Melky Cabrera drove in two with a single that tied the game.

After Luke Hochevar had struggled mightily through the first inning, he really settled down and found a groove through the fifth before giving up a couple runs in the sixth, though one was unearned. I know it’s early and that it’s a tiny sample size, but I’m a bit concerned about Mike Aviles and his inability to field third base as well as I had hoped. I’m hoping it’s just a bad five game sample, but if it’s more, he’s working to play himself out of a job when Moustakas is ready. I say that even factoring in my dislike of Chris Getz. His offense has been struggling, too. He just looks, I don’t know, uncomfortable. I think he’ll work his way through it because throughout his entire big league career he’s made adjustments, but it’s just a little bit troubling early on.

Anyway, back to the good stuff. So it’s 6-4 White Sox onto the bottom of the eighth inning. Melky Cabrera leads off and is retired versus Chris Sale, a pitcher very tough on lefties. Up steps Alex Gordon to the plate. Gordon is 2-4 at this point with a double and the first inning homer, but this is quite possibly his biggest test of the year in terms of hitting off pitchers he was previously uncomfortable against. Well, I’m not sure if this is a new Alex or not, but he laced a ball into the left-center field gap and got a double out of it, putting him on second base for Billy Butler. Just as the Royals drew it up, a Gordon double preceded a Butler home run. Of course, they drew it up that way in 2007, but it doesn’t hurt when a plan comes together, no matter when it happens.

So the game was tied and in the hands of a Royals bullpen that looks like it might just play the part of dominant this year. Aaron Crow dazzled in his third appearance including a strikeout of Paul Konerko that was just beautiful to watch. He dialed it up to the upper-90s and was generally just nearly impossible to hit. If the Royals ever have a game at around 5:00 or 5:30, I propose that Crow starts, even if he only goes three innings because the odds are good that with shadows helping him, he could strike out all nine guys he faces. I’m a little concerned about Robinson Tejeda. His velocity is way down and he just doesn’t seem to be inducing as many swings and misses as I remember. I know that is partially because of the decreased velocity, but he got a lot of swings and misses from his other pitches, and those don’t seem to be as effective either. It’s curious to say the least.

Well the game went into the twelfth inning, and of course the hero was unexpected. Chris Getz singled to start things, was moved up to second on a nice bunt from Aviles and then was driven home by Melky Cabrera. I hated the Cabrera signing even before they went out and acquired Lorenzo Cain. I thought he was a complete turd and would never amount to anything in the Major Leagues. All reports indicate that he’s well aware that many other people share that opinion and he got in shape and has been fantastic in the early going. His defense has been fantastic and he’s been hitting the ball hard. He doesn’t have a ton of pop, but what little he does, he was able to show on Sunday afternoon on an absolute blast to center field. I still want Lorenzo Cain in there every day, but I’m happy to let him get just a little more seasoning if it means Melky put it together and can actually fetch something on the open market.

I guess what I learned is that these guys don’t quit. If they give up four in the first, there’s always the chance that they could actually come back and make it a game. They’re not going to keep winning games in their last at bats all season. At some point, they’re going to need their starting pitcher to go out and pitch seven strong innings while the offense puts up seven runs and the win is easy. They’re in first place, winners of four straight games and I’m loving every minute of it. There are most certainly holes on this team that will likely become exposed as the season progresses, but for now it sure is fun to be a fan of the Kansas City Royals.

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