Indians Series Summary (4/13-4/15)

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The Royals took 2 out of 3 against the Cleveland Indians in the series.  They now sit at 5-4 and are tied for 1st place in the division with the Detroit Tigers.

Monday 4/13
1st game of the series featured Fausto Carmona vs. Zack Greinke.  Carmona was bad, as expected, giving up 5 hits, 4 walks and 4 runs in his 5.0 innings of work.  Greinke didn’t have his best stuff and still managed 5.0 innings of shutout baseball.  He allowed 6 hits, 2 walks and struck out 9 hitters.  He was in and out of trouble most of the game, but always made critical pitches in critical situations.  This is the kind of game that proves Zack is ascending to one of the game’s elite starting pitchers.  It took him 104 pitches to get through 5 innings, so saying he wasn’t efficient is stating the obvious.  Greinke was followed by Jamey Wright for 2.0 innings, and Kyle Farnsworth for 1.0 inning.  Both did not allow a hit or a run, and both each walked a batter.  Mahay came in to start the 9th and gave up hits to both batters he faced, before Hillman called on Soria to shut the door.  Soria let both of the inherited runners score and made the game interesting, but like Greinke, when he had to make the pitches he did.  With runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs, Soria went to work.  He cut through the heart of the Indians orders striking out Victor Martinez, getting Travis Hafner to ground out, and then on a 3-2 count broke off his trademark curveball to strike out Jhonny Peralta.

The offense was more patient, drawing 5 walks, but again only had 5 hits and again hit less than .200 as a team.  Their 5 hits were spread across 5 players.  Mike Jacobs hit his 1st home run as a Royal in the 4th inning and crushed another ball that would have been a HR if the game was being played in July instead of the chill of mid-April.  Billy Butler hit his 2nd 2B of the season.  DeJesus, Teahen and Callaspo had the other 3 hits on the night.  Miguel Olivo was dreadful striking out in all three of his at bats.

Trey Hillman continued his curious defensive deployment strategy.  He had Mike Aviles at 3B, TPJ at SS, Teahen in RF, and Callaspo at 2B.  I’m not sure why he feels the need to play people out of position and weaken a bad defensive team further.  It would have made more sense to play Teahen at 3B, Aviles at SS, and Bloomquist in RF.  Instead of playing 2 guys out of position (Teahen and Aviles) and having TPJ in the starting lineup, he could have had no one playing out of position and had a better defensive team on the field.  I recognize that Teahen can play outfield, but 3B is still his natural position on the field.  They signed Willie Bloomquist because he could play everywhere so it confounds me that they aren’t using him in situations like this.  I was not a fan of the Bloomquist signing but I would much rather see his name in the lineup over TPJ.

Net result however is that the Royals are a better team and won the game 4-2.

Tuesday 4/14
The 2nd game of the series was a matchup between the #3 starters.  Before the game even started the Royals had the advantage.  Despite the 8 strikeouts, Carl Pavano had a poor outing giving up 4 runs and 8 hits in his 6.0 innings.  Kyle Davies didn’t have his best stuff, but still battled his way to his 1st win of the season.  He gave up 7 hits and 3 runs in his 5.2 innings of work.  He walked only 1 and struck out 5.  The bullpen was flawless yet again allowing 3 hits and no runs in 3.1 innings pitched.  They also struck out 6 and did not issue a walk.

The big news from Tuesday’s 9-3 win was not the pitching, but the fact that the Royals offense finally made an appearance at Kauffman stadium.  For the first time this season, the Royals hit over .300 in a game with 7 of their 11 hits going for extra bases.  John Buck was the star of the show hitting 2 HR including an 8th inning grand slam.  Everyone in the Royals lineup outside of Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen had at least one hit.

I applaud Trey Hillman for the lineup he went with for the game.  I like Butler playing 1B and Jacobs as the DH.  It seems to me that Jacobs is more capable of handling the role of DH, while I think Butler needs to be in the field to help keep him in the game.  They are both bad defensively but Jacobs has probably already reached his defensive “prime” at the position.  Butler is only 22, just started playing the position last year and has the ability to improve at the position.

Wednesday 4/15
Ponson pitched 6.0 innings giving up 6 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks and struck out 2.  Aaron Laffey started for the Indians on his 23rd birthday and was pretty good going 5.1 innings allowing 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks and struck out 5.  Farnsworth took the mound to start the 7th inning and imploded again allowing 2 hits and 1 walk in his 0.1 IP.  In the end he was charged with 3 earned runs.  Mahay pitched 1.2 innings giving up 1 H while striking out 3.  He allowed both of the runners he inherited from Farnsworth to score.  Ho-Ram again did not look good giving up a double and a walk in 0.1 IP before Hillman pulled him for Tejeda who finished the game.

Offensively the Royals had 7 hits and 6 walks.  Mike Jacobs came off the bench and absolutely crushed a HR to center in the 8th inning.  Right before Jacobs hit his home run, Teahen was thrown out at second base trying to stretch his single into a double.  Based on the calls made into the postgame show, many people are upset with Teahen’s hustle play.  The logic is that if Teahen had stayed at 1B, then Jacobs’ HR would have scored 2 and tied the game.  Unfortunately things don’t work like that.  We cannot predict how Mike Jacobs would have been pitched if Teahen were standing on 1B, but I am guessing he would not have seen the same pitch in those alternate circumstances.  Even if Jacobs did see the same pitch, with a runner on base he may have taken a different swing, tried too hard and hit a ground ball to 2B.  Bottom line is that it was a good move for Teahen to try and get to 2nd base.  80-90% of the time he makes it safely and then a single scores him to pull the Royals within one run.

Sir Sidney Ponson gave the Royals the best he had in today’s game but it couldn’t cancel out Kyle Farnsworth and the Royals lost 5-4.

Series Impression:
The starting rotation threw 16.2 innings with a 2.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 17 SO.

In 10.1 innings of work the bullpen posted a 4.36 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 11 SO.

For the series the Royals hit .247 (23/93) while drawing 15 walks and striking out 22 times.  They left 17 men on base while scoring 17 runs.  In the series they hit 4 2B, 3 3B, and 4 HR.

The Indians starting pitching is bad and their bullpen is even worse so it remains to be seen if the Royals offense is truly waking up or if they were just feasting on one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball.  Hitting .247 is not a great feat, but considering they hit .188 in the Yankees series it is an improvement.

The most promising sign I take from this series is that the Royals took 2 out of 3 games against a team they are supposed to beat.  That’s good because they were the better team on the field, and if you don’t beat the bad teams you cannot compete for the division title.

Upcoming Series:
The Royals have a day off tomorrow as they travel to Texas for a 3 game series with the Rangers over the weekend.  The Texas Rangers are currently 3-5 but are leading in their game tonight.  On the young season, in eight games, the Rangers have scored 52 and allowed 56 runs.  By contrast the Royals, in 9 games, have scored 31 and allowed 29 runs.  Kansas City has a decided advantage in the pitching matchups for all three games in the series, but cannot compete with the offensive firepower of the Rangers.  This will be a real good test for Kansas City’s big three.
4/17 Matt Harrison (0-1, 6.35) vs. Gil Meche (0-0, 3.21)
4/18 Kevin Millwood (1-0, 0.64) vs. Zack Greinke (2-0, 0.00)
4/19 Vicente Padilla (1-1, 10.00) vs. Kyle Davies (1-0, 2.13)

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