We spend a lot of time discounting spring training results and, for those organizations that traditionally are out of it by then, we even view September statistics with a skeptical eye. An 18-8 September? Let’s not jump to conclusions. A great spring? So what.
Yet, come Opening Day, that one game out of 162 seems to be more than enough for many to draw immediate conclusions:
- Alex Gordon went zero for five with three strikeouts – same ol’ Alex.
- Mike Aviles had an error and another misplay at third – that’s going to be a problem, he’s all bat and no glove
- Kila Ka’aihue didn’t have a hit – he might just have slider bat speed.
- Aaron Crow struck out three of the four hitters he faced – he’s fantastic, best draft pick ever!
You get my point…or my sarcasm and many of you reading this site know better. Still, there is that nagging thought in the back of many an astute minds (and my non-so-astute one) that this did feel a lot like the same old Royals.
Although the Royals scored on solo home runs in both the 7th and 8th innings, they also stranded seven runners over the last three frames. Prior to that, Kansas City was simply throttled at the plate; not getting a runner past second until the 7th inning. They committed three errors and allowed the Angels to post their third and fourth runs after getting the first two batters out in the top of the sixth. Yep, eerily similar to the teams of the past.
That said, it is important to remember that Jered Weaver is good and, against the Royals, he is really, really good. Over his career, Weaver has a 2.64 earned run average over the 58 innings pitched against Kansas City. Counting yesterday’s start, Weaver has allowed TWO runs to the Royals over his last 28 innings. This was going to be a tough day at the plate that just so happened to be Opening Day.
Opening Day, for all it’s excitement and celebrations, is just one game.
Other observations from the Royals 4-2 loss, made with full knowledge that it is, say it with me, just one game:
- Royals hitters walked six times and struck out ten, while Royals pitchers walked only one and struck out nine. This team will strike out a lot, so it would be nice if the ability to take a walk also holds and those big strikeout numbers don’t hurt as bad if the hurlers are posting similar numbers on the opposite side of the ledger.
- Melky Cabrera had three hits and looked (dare we say it?) fit. Trade him now, his value will never be higher! I kid…
- Mike Aviles, a favorite of mine, did kind of do a Bizzaro-Callaspo at third base yesterday. Let’s remember that Mike has not played a ton of third base – 14 games in the majors, 164 in the minors – and not panic. Besides, we are just a Moustakas hot streak away from seeing Aviles back at second, anyway.
- We pretty much knew what to expect from Jeff Francouer and we got it. A big home run to get the Royals on the board and hideous bases loaded strikeout on a pitch well out of the zone. We also saw him throw out Jeff Mathis at the plate after the Angels rather strangely challenged the one true plus-skill Francouer possesses.
- Four hitters does not a career make, but it was fun to watch Aaron Crow slice and dice the Angels wasn’t it?
- I thought Luke Hochevar had a solid start. If, as is my hope, Luke is to turn into Gil Meche (the good one, not the wrecked version), then this is the kind of start he needs to post time after time. He simply is not going to be the guy to stand toe to toe with a Weaver and win. Hopefully as soon as next year that will not be his role.
Finally, in the ‘who would have thought’ category, Ned Yost used two pinch runners, a pinch hitter and three starters ended the game at different defensive positions. All that and Matt Treanor plays all nine innings. Given that Treanor had a single and a walk, this really is not a criticism of Yost. I am willing to bet, however, that if I gave you that scenario prior to the game, you would almost certainly have to assume that Treanor was the subject of one of those switches. Baseball, as you may have heard, is a funny game.
Assuming you are not too crestfallen from yesterday, we get a look at Jeff Francis tonight against Dan Haren (who has a 1.99 ERA against the Royals in 50 innings of work). If Kansas City is going to have something resembling a decent season, Francis being effective is a must.
Remember, no matter what happens tonight, it is just TWO games out of 162.