Last week the Royals kept it close but only ended up winning two of six games. This week, they hosted divisional rivals Cleveland and Chicago for a pair of three game series. It went a little bit better, but not without a lot of drama and a heaping dose of free weekend baseball.
The Royals on the season are batting .275, getting on base at a .329 clip and slugging .394. Other than the power numbers, this was a microcosmic week for Kansas City.
29 runs scored
7 homeruns hit
9 stolen bases in 11 attempts
15 walks in 217 plate appearances, a below average 6.9%
Team ERA: 4.50
Starters ERA: 5.01
Bullpen ERA: 3.58
K/BB ratio: 43/18 – not too shabby
Royals pitchers only surrendered two homeruns
Zack Greinke, 14 IP, 1.93 ERA, 13/4 K/BB ratio, and a strong 8 inning performance to save an already taxed bullpen against Chicago
Gregor Blanco, 9-26, 5 RS, 3 SB, 1 HR – I’m telling you, there’s something weird about this…
Wilson Betemit, 8-21, 6 RS, 3 HR, 7 RBI – making a case for full time 2011 role
Yuniesky Betancourt, 7-24, 3 HR, 10 RBI, third grand slam of the season. I have no idea what to make of him right now.
Jason Kendall, 6-22, 3 RBI, 3 SB – walk off RBI to finish off the White Sox on Sunday
Billy Butler, 6-21, 4 RS, 4 RBI – who?
That Chicago series seems kind of like the type of series that can springboard a young team into believing they can do something on the field. There’s no threat of the Royals making a playoff push, of course, but considering the insane play of Betancourt, the surprisingly solid hitting by Betemit and the terror on the basepaths that is Gregor Blanco, there are some unlikely players stepping up and making noise. They simply wouldn’t give in.
Additionally, you have Philip Humber chewing up some innings and taking one for the team when pressed into action. He gave up five runs in 5.2 innings, but when the Royals weren’t able to send Sean O’Sullivan out to start after the previous day’s rainout, Humber did his job (okay, barely). Though he gave up nine hits and five runs, he struck out six and walked none, so he had something going.
Then you get three one run games against the Sox – but not just that, three extra inning one run games. And the Royals won two of them, first coming back from 5-1 to tie it on a Yuni grand slam, then his walk-off RBI single. Then on Sunday, Kendall came through after Blanco stole his way to third base. It was even Betancourt who tied the second game of the double header to send it into extra innings.
Alex Gordon put together some multi-hit games, though Kila Ka’aihue has struggled mightily in his extended time with the big league club. He’s mostly been placed third, fourth or fifth in the lineup since coming up, so maybe a stint lower in the order would take some pressure off. It’s worth a shot – he can’t do much worse batting seventh.
The Royals now travel to Detroit, then on to Cleveland for some more Central Division wrangling. Meanwhile September awaits (and its expanded roster – who do you think will be in KC a week from tomorrow?)