Here’s the bright side, above anything else — baseball season is officially upon us. Starting at that premise makes life better in general already. More specifically, though, Royals baseball is back, and another season of games like yesterday’s will continue the frustration of Kansas City baseball fans.
If you’re on this blog, I’ll spare you the recap. You know what happened and the final score, but what I hope to bring to you in my game reactions this season is just a little bit more. So let’s kick it in gear and look at some little things in the ball game (and what trends we may see based off of those observations):
I’ll usually take my scorebook to any game I attend. Yesterday, with the eventful nature of Opening Day, I opted not to do so fearing the excitement of returning to the K after a cold, bitter winter would distract me. But sitting with a friend, we observed Zack Greinke looked a little less sharp than he was most of last year. Looking at the boxscore later, the main reason – he only threw a first pitch strike to 9 of the 25 batters he faced. Amazingly, he only gave up 6 hits, 1 walk and 1 earned run, but that’s Greinke. Any other Royals starter, and we wouldn’t have been in position to hand a lead off to the bullpen.
That very bullpen started batters off with a strike 10 of 16 times and only surrendered one walk. Pretty reasonable. Unfortunately, that was a leadoff walk to Scott Sizemore, after which the Tigers started the hit parade. A single and two doubles later, and the Royals’ bullpen had blown it. After the first out of the inning, a strikeout, the hit parade continued, and three more drives sent most of the crowd toward the parking lot. And the Tigers weren’t squeaking out seeing eye singles, either. These were some shots.
There were a few positives from yesterday, though. For one, Greinke, despite his first-pitch issue, continued his dominance. If your starter gives you six innings and only gives up one earned run and one walk on opening day, you’re usually going to be pleased with that. Considering it was Zack Greinke with that line, it felt a little disappointing.
Scott Podsednik and Chris Getz had encouraging Royals debuts. Podsednik reached twice while seeing 24 pitches while Getz went 2 for 4, scored, and stole a base. Juan Cruz and Robinson Tejeda, while they gave up 5 of the 6 hits in the seventh inning rally, threw strikes (combined 26 of 37 pitches) and Cruz recorded 3 strikeouts. I hope that demonstrates better control and not poor command or lost movement.
And all four of Kansas City’s runs came off Detroit ace Justin Verlander. That should count for something, right?
This being a Royals game, and a loss at that, there were many poor performances. Willie Bloomquist’s error on a routine two-out popup led to an unearned run in the first inning. He made up for it with a some nice plays in the 6th inning to save Greinke from a couple of hits, but he also struck out three times. Rick Ankiel struck out twice and went hitless, showing little patience by seeing only 12 pitches. David DeJesus misplayed a line drive that rolled to the wall. And the bullpen, well, you can almost hear Ricky Bottalico chuckling. Also, Jason Kendall should be reaching home plate from second base any…minute…now…
If nothing else, this is just one game. There aren’t a lot of trends to pick out yet, but my first impressions of Getz and Podsednik are at least positive. I wish Hillman would have let Greinke start the 7th inning until he put a baserunner on, but no single starter yesterday surpassed 109 pitches (Yovani Gallardo had the high number in Milwaukee), so it’s understandable that Greinke doesn’t go out after 96 through 6 innings. He has 34 more starts in him, and the first go through the rotation, managers are going to be conservative.
Some good news: Alberto Callaspo is likely to start at third base in place of Bloomquist after missing the opener with a oblique issue. The Royals could use a little extra pop, to say the least. The Royals got one extra base hit and eight singles. And only reached base in 11 of 37 appearances. That’s just not going to cut it.