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Royals Suffer Through Bad Weekend in Arlington

Well that was not a strong showing over the weekend in Arlington for the once high flying Royals. About a week ago, they stood at 10-5 following the Seattle series. Now they’re 12-10 and looking like they may be fading to a point where people thought they would be anyway. My first thought is that I wouldn’t worry too much about what happened over the weekend because the Rangers are a bad matchup for the Royals, especially in Arlington. I know that the Royals need to figure out a way to make every team a good matchup, but that just happened yet. For a team like the Royals who don’t have much in the way of home run power or much in the way of strikeout pitchers, this just wasn’t a battle they were going to win in all likelihood. It would have been nice to take one of the games, but that didn’t happen, so the Royals are left with their first series loss and their first rough skid of the season.

It’ll be interesting to see how they handle this over the next couple of weeks. The amazing thing about this is that they’ve only lost 0.5 games in the standings during their little skid, so if they do plan to contend, that dream is still alive. On the flip side it would have been nice to take advantage of this and be able to move into first place. Still, the season isn’t dead just yet, especially heading into Cleveland for a three game series with the Indians. The Royals get a day off to lick their wounds and then get right back to it tomorrow with first place somehow still on the line. The Indians are a much better matchup for the Royals, though they very easily could have been swept by them at home last week.

What was most impressive to me was the fact that this team continues to fight until the very last pitch. It seems like such a cliché, but the Royals do play all nine innings, all 27 outs. You don’t see that very often with Major League Baseball teams, but they simply do not give up at any point in the game. On Friday, they scored five runs in an inning to tie the score. That was amazing. Yesterday, the three run homer in the ninth by Mike Aviles made what was once an 8-2 game a one-run affair. They seem to lack the killer instinct, though, when they are up or rolling, which is something they’ll need if they plan to make some serious noise at some point soon in the American League. Look at Wednesday’s game against the Indians when Hochevar was perfect through five. The Royals scored two in the first and Hochevar looked fantastic. It seemed like they had the idea that two runs was enough and sort of shut it down for the night. It clearly wasn’t enough, and it took a three run homer in the bottom of the ninth to make the score respectable.

On Friday, when the Royals scored five runs, it looked like they were on the road to some serious scoring that may have even led to a blowout in the Royals favor, but they tied the score and then appeared to pack it in. I’m not saying there’s not effort because if there’s one thing this team has, it is effort, but they just don’t seem to have that instinct that puts teams away. Not to get too violent here, but they need a kill shot sometimes on offense when they’re up 5-0. They just need that three run blast that lets the opponent know that it might be time to get a position player warmed up to pitch because it’s going to be a long night. Interestingly enough, the 2008 Royals had that instinct and I haven’t looked, but I’d bet they won more blowouts than almost any other team the Royals have fielded in the last ten years. I remember a very hot game that Zack Greinke pitched against the White Sox in 2008 where the Royals were just mashing and there were two runners on and Aviles was up. He mashed a three run homer into the construction zone that put the game out of reach in something like the second. It was beautiful to watch.

Moving away from that, I’d like to mention Alex Gordon once again. He’s probably gotten more mentions in this blog than anyone, especially since the season started, but there’s just been so much to write about him, so I have. His hitting streak is up to 18 games, and it’s not a light 18 games. He’s hitting about .400 during this stretch. At some point it has to end, but I love what I’ve seen from Gordon in the last few weeks as pitchers are starting to pitch him a little tougher than they had early in the year. I love the fact that he’s able to spray the ball around the field and get hits everywhere. My one concern is that he’s only hit one home run, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that the Royals have played in some weather not so conducive to homers. Over the weekend was an exception, but he also faced two pretty tough lefties. While he’s gotten better against them, he’s still not a huge power threat against a left-handed pitcher. Hopefully that comes, but if not, his development from what he used to be is good enough for now.

It’s silly to panic after a rough week just like it’s silly to get too excited after a great one. Keep in mind that the Rangers are the reigning American League champions and a very good team. The Royals are coming off a year where they were one of the worst teams in the league and got rid of some of their best players in the off-season. They’re building for something that wasn’t expected to be this year, so a minor setback during the season isn’t something to get too concerned about. As the Royals head to Cleveland, my guess is the pitching gets back on track and so do the Royals.

  1. Patrick
    April 26, 2011 at 11:40 am

    The saying goes that good teams are supposed to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The Rangers are a good team and beat the Royals, as they should.

    However, I’m taking the fact that the Royals didn’t lay down and die as a positive. They really tried to come back.

    • Joe
      April 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      I agree with Patrick. The Royals are not quite dead yet and they are showing signs of combativeness. Their time will come, sooner rather than later.

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