It’s this kind of day that we expected from Mike Aviles. With a 2-4 day that included two doubles and three runs driven in, Aviles bounced back after sitting for the entire Detroit series.
He’s still sitting on an ugly 5-32 start, but he showed better at bats on Tuesday night, working a sacrifice fly and drawing a walk. Baby steps. Chris Getz and Wilson Betemit continued to produce, so Aviles may still have to scrap for at bats, but Kila Ka’aihue‘s struggles against lefties might mean more DH starts for Betemit or Aviles. Today, he was a big part to their 10-5 win over the Twins.
Aviles wasn’t the only Royal hitting the ball today. In fact, the only one that didn’t was Matt Treanor. Six Royals had two hits and Treanor was the only one who went hitless. Most of that damage was done in the top of the fourth as the Royals, who had been no hit to that point by Twins starter Francisco Liriano, batted around, scoring six runs on five consecutive singles and the first of Aviles’s doubles. After that, Treanor was the first out of the inning and Alcides Escobar and Chris Getz singled afterwards.
Fortunately, they did all that damage early. Kyle Davies started the game by giving up a single, double and single to Denard Span, Matt Tolbert and Jason Kubel. He managed to get Justin Morneau and Delmon Young out before walking Jim Thome to load the bases. He struck out Michael Cuddyer to end the threat and giving up just one run. I’ll give credit to Davies for working out of an inning that has gotten away from him so many times. Considering the Twins success against the Royals historically, another big first inning against Davies may have sunk the Royals before they could get going.
Davies is still Davies, though, and ran into trouble in the fifth inning, running into a similar conga line of base hits just as Liriano had run into in the fourth. The Twins got four runs back.
With both starters out after five innings, the 6-5 game went to the bullpens.
So far, that’s the kind of situation where the Royals are excelling. Kanekoa Texeira, Tim Collins and Jeremy Jeffress combined for four scoreless innings to hold down the lead. Just in case, the Royals added three more runs in the top of the ninth, allowing Joakim Soria to sit down in the bullpen. Jeffress worked a second inning to notch his first career save.
Davies went through a stretch where he shut down the Twins, but, as is his pattern, had one bad inning. Today, it didn’t end up costing him anything but his ERA as the Royals were hitting. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other real rotation options to put in his place, so while I’d like to see him do something else entirely so we can avoid the disastrous starts that are sure to come in the future, he can pitch well for stretches. The key is to pull him an inning earlier than you think you should.
Maybe that seems reactionary. I’ve been kicking an idea around in my head about how baseball starts at an awkward time of the sports year. Spring training starts just weeks after the Super Bowl and teams start paring down rosters in preparation for Opening Day in the middle of March Madness. In the NFL Playoffs (and the NFL in general), every single game matters. One or two bad games is enough to change a team’s playoff seed, or keep them out entirely. A bad game in January sends your team home.
Similarly, once conference play and the NCAA tournament get in gear, one loss can take a #1 seed down to a #3. Even the biggest Goliath can fall to the peskiest David in March, and that’s it. Game over. (I’m a Kansas fan, so trust me on this, the agony of one poorly-timed loss is pretty awful.)
Coming out of that atmosphere, it may be tough to keep the perspective that the baseball season is a long and arduous journey through 162 games. Reading Twitter and comments sections and the like, I’m already seeing calls for Kila Ka’aihue to be benched, Mike Aviles to be cut, Joakim Soria to be moved for whatever offer we can find, and Robinson Tejeda to be left behind in Minnesota rather than return to KC.
This is all after 11 games.
Usually, I notice, by May, the perspective shifts and fans settle into the rhythm of the baseball season where even the most hardcore fan doesn’t HAVE to be in front of the TV for this game, because, what the heck, there’s another one on the same time tomorrow.
So after 14 innings in 2011, I might be too harsh on Kyle Davies to call on his ouster from the rotation. I might. But after nearly 500 innings in a Royals uniform, I don’t know how much Kyle Davies is going to change from what he is now. Long gone are the days of 2008 where he looked like a legit #3 guy in the making. On many other teams, he’s a #5 at best.
That all being said, Davies only walked one today. So that’s something. He made the pitches to get outs in the first inning to escape, so maybe he’s got a little moxie to him. He’ll have to show me a lot more consistency to get me to change my mind on him, though.
In other news, Tim Collins topped his solid performance last night by Justin Morneau and Jim Thome with strikeouts and Delmon Young on a popout. He now has seven scoreless innings as a major leaguer. Jeremy Jeffress gave up just his second hit in 4.2 innings in getting the two inning save.
And then there’s that Aaron Crow guy.
If the blueprint for Royals success is balanced hitting and a solid, young and electric bullpen, this is going to be a fun team to watch for the next 151 games.