Well, that one was over fast.
The Royals dropped the first game in Detroit today 5-2 thanks to a 4-run first inning that was capped off by newly signed Victor Martinez’s bases loaded double.
Nothing seemed right all day for Royals starter Kyle Davies as he struggled with his command issuing five walks and six runs in just 3 2/3 innings. Maybe this is just one of those outings the Royals get from time-to-time from Davies – trouble with fastball command and falling behind most batters – but there’s a bigger issue brewing with the change in his delivery that he’s made this season.
Davies adjustment to a new, lower arm slot (which the Tigers’ announcers just could not get over) was surely done in an effort to give a normally flat fastball some life and movement when thrown for strikes. Two outings in however and the adjustment has yet to click as he’s walked nine batters and allowed nine earned runs in just nine innings. It isn’t a good sign when a 27 year old pitcher with six years of major league experience overhauls his delivery the way Davies has, so for his sake and for the sake of the Royals rotation, he needs to figure it out soon.
Series Preview – A Look Back
The Royals had come into this series no doubt a little dejected over their extra innings loss Wednesday at home to the White Sox, but there was still an awful lot to build on from a 4-2 start for a franchise that was in desperate need of some good news on the field for a change.
Today’s loss, although just 5-2 on the scoreboard, may do a little to dampen the spirits of the players because it was never really that close, and the Royals were handled pretty easily by Max Scherzer and the back-end of the Tigers bullpen.
Dampening the spirits of Royals fans, aside from today’s loss, could be the worrisome start to the season of the team’s best pitcher, Joakim Soria. His blown save Wednesday not only raised red flags over the way he’s looked in his first five outings this year, but the fact that he’s already had five outings.
Give Ned Yost credit, three of Soria’s appearances over the opening home stand came in tie games, which is a major philosophical improvement over manager dealings of the past, but that is a lot of games for one pitcher to be asked to throw this early in the season. In Yost’s defense, the Royals seem to think games have to go 12 innings in 2011, and because of the all the extras being played the bullpen is going to be stretched a little thinner than normal. Hopefully, for the health of a pretty valuable right arm, the Royals will have a return to normalcy and Soria won’t be asked to pitch as much as he has in the early goings.
A surprise to the first seven games of 2011 is the start of former uber-prospect Alex Gordon who had another two hits and a walk in today’s game. There are still things to worry about with Gordon at the plate like the seven strikeouts in as many games, but a .399/.444/.636 triple-slash is enough to make even the hardest Gordon opponent dream just a little dream that maybe, yes just maybe, this is the Alex Gordon the Royals thought they were getting four years ago.
And let’s be honest, did you really think I’d let AG’s start go unwritten about? I mean really, me, of all people?
Series Preview – Storyline to Watch
The Royals pitching coming into this year was so supposed to be so atrocious that some where calling it the worst in franchise history. Well, at least the starting rotation was being labeled that way. So far this season however the Tigers seem to be offended that they weren’t in the early “This Rotation Stinks” conversation, and are doing their darndest to get a huge lead on the rest of the field.
Despite a pretty fantastic staff 7.6 SO/9, the Tigers have allowed 13 homeruns in just 50 innings in the season’s first six games. Fortunately for them though, the majority of damage leading to the overall staff ERA of 7.02 is being done by Brad Penny, Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Max Scherzer.
The good news for the Royals? Three of those starters are off to slow starts – Procello, Coke, and Scherzer – are scheduled to go this weekend. The bad news for the Royals? Their batting with runners on base so far this season has not been good and it showed up again today as they weren’t able to get that one big hit of Scherzer, even though he allowed nine base runners in six innings.
Hopefully the Royals bats can rebound from today’s game and are able to take advantage of Coke’s and Procello’s slow starts.
Series Preview – Matchup to Watch
Miguel Cabrera. Yeah that’s it; just Miguel Cabrera. Although the Tigers have spent a lot of money on their offense over the last couple seasons, Cabrera is in a different class of hitters, and he’s the one to focus on the most over the weekend.
Cabrera owns the Royals. Well, he owns pretty much every team, but his career success against all three of the Royals starters is staggering, and a cause for concern.
Against today’s starter Kyle Davies, Cabrera has a lifetime average of just .270 in 42 at-bats, but included in that are three home runs and four walks. (Victor Martinez has also had a “fair” amount of success against Davies hitting .333 with 2 home runs in just 18 at-bats entering today’s game, and we saw how that worked out.)
Saturday’s game already looks like a shootout with Bruce Chen squaring off against Coke, but Cabrera’s video-game like .571 batting average with three home runs and seven walks in just 14 at-bats lifetime against Chen give a whole new meaning to “laser show”, and have me worried for Bruce’s safety.
The key test for Royals against Cabrera will come Sunday with Luke Hochevar starting because when you’re No.1 goes against the other teams No.3, that’s a game you need to win. Cabrera is 9 for 17 with a home run in his career against the Royals “ace”.
Series Preview – Outlook
The 4-2 start was great and the dramatic wins left Royals fans with some warm-and-fuzzies, but when you’re starting the bottom of the rotation against a team with triple the payroll that’s on their opening home stand, that’s not usually the recipe for success you’re looking. The Royals need to hope that some of the late-inning magic from The K carries over because this is not a match-up that looks good on paper.