Well, if what Royals fans wanted was October baseball, they got it in 2012. Unfortunately, it wasn’t because of a playoff run, but because the schedule said they had to play in October. None the less, the three games that the Royals played during this month DID mean something…to the Detroit Tigers. One win against the Royals or a loss by the Chicago White Sox would mean a AL Central title for the Tigers. The Royals had a chance to make things interesting. The Tigers were too much to handle though, and won game one of the three-game set to clinch. They proceeded to soak the walls of the visitor’s clubhouse with booze and laughter. The Royals could only watch and think back to the high expectations that they did not live up to this season. It was a short month, but here’s a look at what happened in the Month of October…
a. October Overall Record: 1-2 (.333)
Season Record: 72-90 (.444)
AL Central: 3rd (of 5)
American League: 11th (of 14)
Major League: 23rd (of 30)
b. October Home Record
Season Home Record: 37-44 (.457)
c. October Road Record
Season Road Record: 35-46 (.432)
d. October Streaks
Current: Lost 1
e. October Opponents
II. Ned Yost Quote of the Month
10/1-after the Tigers clinched the AL Central at Kauffman Stadium. Should the Royals watch?
“No, I want ‘em to feel it,” Yost said. “We can witness it all we want. We want to be there and feel it.”
III. High Point
Escobar’s Proud Moment after beating Detroit on 10/2
In the lone Royals win of the month, Alcides Escobar was on a one-man mission to impress. It turns out that the game was being televised to home homeland of Venezuela. His family & friends back home were watching. Escobar did not disappoint, he had three hits including a home run, drove in two, stole a base, and was spectacular in the field. It’s been a great year for Escobar, and Royals fans should be excited that he will be in the lineup in 2013.
IV. Low Point
Season ends with an offensive fizzle on 10/3
Luis Mendoza tossed a gem in the final game of the season, but the offense only combined for a total of six hits and zero runs. It was a good summation of the frustration that 2012 brought. Often times this year, we’d get a good pitching performance, but get no offense. Other times, we’d score a bunch or runs, but the pitching would be awful. On this night, the Royals were 0-5 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. The result was a 1-0 loss and lots of fans walking away with a bad taste in their mouth.
V. Surprises and Disappointments
1) Cabrera’s Triple-Crown Reception.(Surprise) Royals fans again proved that they are a quality bunch. In the last game of the year, the fans paused to cheer Cabrera’s amazing accomplishment. It must have surprised Cabrera and the Tigers, because they were greeted the same as if they had been in Detroit. It was a classy sendoff by Kansas City fans, who may just have been happy to have something special to cheer for.
2) Bullpen Record. (Surprise) The 2012 Royals bullpen set an American League record by striking out 537 strikeouts during the season. They surpassed the record set by the 2001 Cleveland Indians. This is a good sign for the young Royals bullpen, but some of this could have been in part to an increase in innings pitched. That increase is due to having to rescue poor starting pitching. So, yes, it’s a good sign, but it’s also an unintended consequence.
3) No Fight in This Dog. (Disappointment) I know it wouldn’t have made any difference in the Royals’ season, but it would have been nice to make the Tigers work for their crown a little bit. After getting swept in a four-game series last week, the Royals lost two of three in the final week of the season. After playing so well against the White Sox, it would have been good to see some of the same results against the Tigers. It could have been due to the face that in the end, Detroit was simply the better team.
VII. Player of the Month
In the three games that made up October, Alcides was impressive. Of course he flashed leather like he has all year, be he finished his best year at the plate in fine fashion as well. He had six hits in the three games, batting .429 with a home run and two RBI. He was productive on the bases too, stealing a base in each of the three games. It’s an important finish for Escobar, as he’ll be an integral part of the team’s success next year (if there’s any success to be had). I get the feeling that Escobar is truly happy to be here & that he’ll continue to be a productive member of this lineup.
Honorable Mention: Johnny Giavotella. Granted, he only got to play in one game, and it was the meaningless last game of the year, but he played well. Johnny went 2-4, and leaves Royals fans wondering exactly what his fate will be next year. He never really got the chance to prove his worth in Kansas City. It will be interesting to see if he ever gets the chance to do so.
VIII. Pitcher of the Month
Mendoza did not get a win, but he had one of his better performances of the season and what was the best pitching performance of October. Luis pitched seven strong innings, scattered six hits, and allowed just one run. He gave up three walks, but struck out six Tigers. In the end, his offensive teammates were not able to score one run. The bullpen finished the game without allowing a run and the Royals lost the game 1-0. It was an up & down year for Mendoza, but he’ll have a lot of success in Kansas City next year if he is able to pitch this well with consistency.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Guthrie. Sure, he got the only win in October, but he had the offensive support to mask whatever shortcomings he had during this outing. Still though, it was another in a string of good starts by Guthrie. He tossed six innings, giving up two runs and five hits. He struck out three batters, but also walked three. Now, it’s up to the front office if they’ll bring back the guy who somehow ended up being the Royals’ best pitcher by the end of the year.
IX. Compare to October 2011
The 2011 Royals didn’t play in October. A familiar sentiment…
2012 was a tough year that was plagued by a couple of terrible months. October was short, but still managed to be disappointing in its own way. As it sits, the Royals won’t be involved in the postseason yet again. In fact, with the Washington Nationals making the playoffs this season, it means that every team in Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NFL, and the NHL has made it to the playoffs more recently than the Kansas City Royals have. Let that stat stew in your brain this offseason, because there won’t be baseball again until April. It will be interesting to see what the organization does during the winter. There are big issues and big holes to fill if this team is ever going to be competitive. Whether or not the team makes real changes is a decision that is in the hands of only a few important people. As fans, all we can do is hope.