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Nice to Win Game One

Last night’s game was just about how the Royals would probably draw up their future. As more and more of those guys who were on the top 100 prospect lists and in the Royals top 10 lists begin to make their way to the big leagues we’ll see this more often, but it was pretty cool watching it unfold last night. Danny Duffy started, and he had his issues with control as he got deeper into the game, but he was plenty effective to hold the A’s to just two runs on four hits in six innings. Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar combined for seven of the Royals ten hits and drove in three runs and Billy Butler hit a two run double that opened the game up a little bit. Then Greg Holland and Aaron Crow held the lead for closer Joakim Soria and the Royals had a 7-4 victory.

Yes, there are things to talk about from this game that, if the Royals do them often, will lead to more losses than victories. For one night, though, the future was on display. The thing I noticed about Duffy is that he was working much quicker than he had in his previous start, but still showed signs of slowing down when he got in trouble. That could be a result of people telling him to slow down when things start to snowball, but I really think that’s where he gets in trouble with his command. I’m no pitching coach, so what I’m saying might be absolutely asinine, but I just think if he can keep his pace up a little better that he’d be better with his command. He didn’t walk his first batter until the fourth and it was after he got in trouble from pitching in the strike zone with a homer allowed to Matsui. I’m not sure if the two are related in any way, but it’s worth noting. I don’t know if Duffy saved his rotation spot with last night’s outing, but he went a long way toward me thinking that he can be a successful big leaguer right now. You know, since that matters so much.

It was nice to see Eric Hosmer break out of his slump with two hits last night. When he first came to the Majors, his at bats were some that you just couldn’t miss. You had to see what he was going to do well next, but over the past two or three games, his at bats were difficult to watch as he swung at high heat and rolled over pitches like Mark Teahen used to do. I guess I owe everyone an apology for making a Mark Teahen reference when talking about Eric Hosmer, but that was the image I saw when he was grounding out to first constantly. Finally, in the top of the sixth inning, he singled to center and you could just see the relief on his face. I bet he’d never tell you that he was pressing or worried or anything, but the smile on his face wasn’t the same one he got when he walked the inning prior. Hopefully this can get him jump started and back on track. He’s a hell of a hitter, so I was never worried, but I was thinking it might be time to get him a day off.

Speaking of Eric Hosmer, remember when I said that he hits the ball harder than anyone I’ve seen in quite some time? He might have a rival across the diamond in Mike Moustakas. I think that Hosmer will end up making more consistent hard contact, but when Moose gets into one, you can hear it whistling even through the television. It’s an impressive thing to watch Moustakas hit when he squares a ball up, and it’s something I hope we see a lot over the next few years. Moustakas also walked for the fourth straight game. I know this is somewhat of an aberration, but I’m really enjoying the patience he’s displaying. I’ve got smart readers, so I’ll ask this question to you. Can you think of anyone who had a decent (at best) walk rate in the minor leagues who came to the Majors and became someone who worked walks at a high rate?

And speaking of walks, wow, the Royals worked some last night, didn’t they? Trevor Cahill is a guy who wasn’t outstanding at limiting walks, but he has been someone who had a pretty decent walk rate throughout. This season, he was allowing about 3.3 walks per nine innings which is an average rate. Last season, he walked under three batters per nine innings, so to see him walk seven in 4.1 innings yesterday was pretty surprising. It was nice to see Royals hitters be patient against him, too, when they noticed that he didn’t have his command. He has not been the pitcher this season that the A’s were hoping for when they gave him a contract extension that could keep him in Oakland through the 2017 season. It was a nice night for Royals hitters as they got their hits, got their walks and didn’t strike out.

Perhaps the best night was had by the guy who has his average climbing every day, Alcides Escobar. He’s now hitting .235/.267/.282 which is obviously still pretty terrible, but considering he was at .203/.237/.236 just seven games ago, this is huge. In those seven games, Escobar is hitting .500/.519/.654 with four doubles. Is this sustainable? Well obviously not, but it’s nice to see that he has this in him. It’s been sort of outed that he’s been working on some alterations to his swing and he brought them out for the series against the Angels. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or if this is what he really needed to become a solid hitter, but he’s been fantastic out of the ninth spot for the last week or so. It’s been sad so many times, but it’s worth repeating that if he can just become an adequate hitter, his defense will make him one of the better shortstops out there, and easily the best shortstop in Royals history. It’s sort of a big if considering he hasn’t had the most productive career to this point with the bat, but it’s worth dreaming a little that he can provide a .270/.320/.375 bat out of the ninth spot while playing gold glove defense.

So for one night, the future was on display for the Royals with the young guys handling most of the dirty work. The A’s are a struggling team right now, so they are a team the Royals should be beating if they want to be getting better. This was a nice win for the Royals. The next two games feature Luke Hochevar and Jeff Francis, two pitchers who I think will benefit from the pitcher friendly conditions in Oakland. I don’t expect the Royals to sweep this series, but it’s always nice to get things off on the right foot with a first game win, so they can at least win the series and pay back Oakland for taking two out of three in Kansas City last month. Let’s hope we get another peak at the future tonight and another Royals win.

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