Well, if your hope was for the Kansas City Royals to play .500 ball this year, the team is right on schedule.
Like their fans, the Royals’ batters seemed just plain too amped up on opening night. From Mike Moustakas basically playing defense on Alcides Escobar twice to the top four batters in the order striking out 10 times in 16 at-bats, the Royals were just too anxious. Of course, Jared Weaver is, you know, freakishly good as well. It is possible, let’s hope anyway, that Kansas City fans won’t see Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler string together a series of at-bats any worse than they did on Friday night.
Now Saturday, against Dan Haren (a pitcher I think is pretty awesome in his own right), the Royals did work at the plate. Solid at-bats and outstanding results – with the exception of Gordon, who seems to be in a bit of funk to start the season. Nothing better than having Hosmer and Moustakas go yard on a national broadcast.
On the mound, we saw the ‘weak’ portion of the roster come through with flying colors. Bruce Chen had Angels hitters off-balance for six innings on Friday, while Luke Hochevar used some early inning luck (and a good portion of newfound composure) in combination with some 5th and 6th inning dominance to nearly duplicate Chen’s performance.
Of course, baseball being the funny game that it is, the Royals’ perceived strength, the bullpen, was not exactly stellar.
Aaron Crow pitched as dominant an inning on Friday as I can remember…from anyone, inducing 8 swinging strikes on his way to striking out the side. He followed up with an ineffective start to the 8th and was followed by Greg Holland who allowed as many inherited runners to score in that one inning than he did in ALL of 2011.
I was surprised Ned Yost sent Crow back out for a second inning of work on Friday. I certainly can understand why, given Crow’s dominance in the first inning of work, but it was unexpected and ended up working out horribly. Such is the life of a big league manager.
On Saturday, Holland was much better, but Tim Collins allowed two inherited runners to score and Jonathan Broxton had a less than ‘slam the door’ kind of ninth. Still, I remain confident that the bullpen will round back into form sooner rather than later. Combine that with some maybe surprising starting pitching and the Royals might have a lot of fun in 2012.
More detailed (maybe) analysis on Monday.