Fresh off getting some pub for being the fantastic hitter he is, Billy Butler continued to be the best bat on the team – as he’s been for at least four years now – crushing a homerun in the first and walking twice, helping the Royals defeat the Orioles 4-2.
Butler raised his season OPS to over .900, but what’s better is the 11 homeruns and we’re not through the month of May just yet. The power, which fans have always (wrongfully) used against Butler to tear down his offensive credibility, is starting to show. His season pace of 39 homeruns is probably unlikely, but it’s still nonetheless encouraging that the “professional hitter” is professionally slugging as well.
Not to be outdone in the victory was the outstanding work of the Kansas City bullpen after Luke Hochevar failed to make it through the fifth inning.
The Royals bullpen has been abused all year. Called upon to throw the most innings in baseball so far (and 12 more innings than the next closest team) it’s a wonder how the group can be as consistent as it has been.
Despite a worrisome 3.69 BB/9, the bullpen’s 3.28 ERA is tenth best in the Major Leagues, and when you consider how many innings they’ve thrown without ever having the benefit of a night off, that’s pretty impressive.
The star of the group? Tim Collins.
After battling control issues last year Collins has rebounded to start 2012 with 34 strikeouts in his first 22 1/3 innings, and he hasn’t allowed a run in his last 7 outings.
Jonathan Broxton earned save number 10, improving his trade value just a little bit more.
With the win the Royals improve to 19-27 on the season and pull within 6 ½ games of first place Cleveland, who just happens to be next on the schedule. It’s a dangerous dream to dream, but a good showing against Cleveland and then struggling Minnesota, and the Royals can start to make some noise in the standings.