May in a Nutshell


April was an awful month for Royals fans everywhere.  “Our Time” quickly turned into “When does football season start?”.  However, the Kansas City Royals showed that they weren’t quite ready to pack it in for the season just yet.  Here’s a look at what happened in the Month of May…

I. Record/Standings    
a. May Overall Record: 15-13 (.536)
          Season Record: 21-28 (.429)
          AL Central: 4th (of 5)
          American League: 13th (of 14)
          Major League: 26th (of 30)
     b. May Home Record
          5-7 (.417)
          Season Home Record: 5-17 (.227)
     c. May Road Record
          10-6 (.625)
          Season Road Record: 16-11 (.593)
     d. May Streaks
          Winning: 4 (5/12-5/15: White Sox, Rangers)
          Losing: 3 (twice) (5/16-5/18: Orioles, D-Backs)(5/22-5/25: Yankees, Orioles)
          Current: Won 2
     e. May Opponents
          Tigers: 1-1
          Yankees: 3-4
          Red Sox: 2-1
          White Sox: 2-1
          Rangers: 2-0
          Orioles: 2-3
          D-Backs: 1-2
          Indians: 2-1

II. Ned Yost Quote of the Month
     5/20– after the Royals are shut out 2-0 by the D-Backs
“We’re still to a point where we’re firing on about six cylinders,” Yost said. “I think once we get going on all eight cylinders, we’re going to be a good team. … I think we still have a lot of ceiling left with our team, a lot of room to improve.”

III. High Point
     Finishing the sweep of Texas in Texas on 5/15
The Royals were 1-5 in Arlington in 2011.  They were 0-4 there in 2010.  Going into this series, the Rangers held the best record in the American League and were easy favorites over the lowly Royals.   This win marked the fourth in a row – their longest of the season – and their sixth win in seven games.  The Royals came out strong, batting around and scoring 4 runs in the top of the 1st and added two more over the next two innings.  Mike Moustakas hit his 5th Home Run of the season as the Royals pounded out 10 hits and capitalized on 2 Ranger errors.  Confidence was high and the team was starting to believe that  they would be able to recover from the slow start to the season.

IV. Low Point
     Losing on 5/25 to the Orioles
After the Texas series (above), the Royals had climbed to 15-20 – just 5 games under .500 and pulled within 4.5 games of first place in the AL Central.  However, after that game, the Royals came home to face Baltimore and dropped game 1 in a heartbreaking 15 inning 4-3 loss.  The team would go on to lose 7 of their next 9 games.  Sure, anything looks better after losing 12 in a row, but after this loss to the Orioles in which the Royals found themselves behind 8-0 before scraping across 2 runs in the 8th, things were looking bleak again.  The loss dropped the team 8.5 games out of first place – their largest deficit of the season.  Thankfully, the guys would get things straightened out and win 4 out of their next 5 to end the month.

V. Surprises and Disappointments
     1) Jeff Francouer’s resurgence. (Surprise)  As April ended, Frenchy was hitting  just .229 with 0 HR & 3 RBI.  He was better known for interacting with the crowd in between innings than for his ability to hit a baseball.  As Melky Cabrera was tearing things up in San Francisco, the fans in KC were starting to think that the team traded the wrong outfielder.  However, Francoeur went 3-4 on May 1 & proceeded to hit safely in 21 of 27 games during the month.  He ends May with an average of .280, 5 HR, and 9 RBI.  He helped carry the team while its brighter stars were still trying to find their swing.
     2) Road Warriors (Surprise).  At 16-11, the Royals have MLB’s 4th best road record.  They’re winning at a .593 clip away from Kauffman Stadium.  In May, they were even better than that.  Sure, it’s disappointing to see them play so well away from home, but wins are wins wherever they come from.  Like other teams in the AL Central, their home record stinks while there are picking up wins on the road.
     3) The Sanchez/Cabrera Trade (Disappointment) Early returns show that the Royals may have biffed this one hard.  At month’s end, Jonathan Sanchez is rehabbing in Omaha after being on the Disabled List since  early May.  For the season, he’s started 6 games.  The Royals have won just two of them, and Sanchez carries a record of 1-2 with an ERA of 6.75.  Cabrera meanwhile,  is the best hitter in baseball at .373 and set a club record with 51 hits during the month.  That’s more than all but 3 Royals have for the year.    
     4) Lorenzo Cain‘s Hip (Disappointment) In relation to #3, this guy was the hope for the future that forced the Royals’ hand.  He played in just 5 games and hit .133 before tearing a hip flexor in the rain in Oakland on April 24th.  More disappointing though, has been his slow rehab.  I’m not saying that Cain is doing anything wrong in his path to get back to KC, but it’s just disappointing to hear that he continues to have setbacks in his rehab.  We may not see him until July at this pace, and the Royals will have to continue to have to piece things together in the outfield until he returns.  Even then, he may not be at 100% for the entire year.

VI. Transactions
     1) 5/3: Placed 2B Yuniesky Betancourt on 15-day DL.  Called up 2B Irving Falu from AAA Omaha.
     2) 5/5: Activated RHP Felipe Paulino from the 15-day DL.  Optioned RHP Louis Coleman to AAA Omaha.
     3) 5/8: Recalled RHP Vin Mazzaro from AAA Omaha.  Optioned LHP Tommy Hottovy to AAA Omaha.
     4) 5/9: Placed LHP Jonathan Sanchez on 15-day DL.  Recalled 2B Johnny Giavotella from AAA Omaha.
     5) 5/12: Activated RHP Greg Holland from 15-day DL.  Optioned RHP Nathan Adcock to AAA Omaha.
     6) 5/14: Placed LHP Danny Duffy on 15-day DL.  Recalled RHP Nathan Adcock from AAA Omaha.
     7) 5/17: Recalled LHP Everett Teaford & RHP Louis Coleman from AAA Omaha.  Optioned RHP Nathan Adcock & RHP Vin Mazzaro to AAA Omaha.
     8 ) 5/19: Placed LHP Everett Teaford on 15-day DL.  Recalled RHP Nathan Adcock from AAA Omaha.
     9) 5/22: Placed 2B Chris Getz on 15-day DL.  Called up LHP Will Smith from AAA Omaha.
   10) 5/29: Recalled RHP Vin Mazzaro from AAA Omaha.  Optioned RHP Nathan Adcock to AAA Omaha.

VII. Player of the Month
     Jeff Francoeur
For many of the reasons mentioned above, Francoeur has helped the Royals offense stay above water during the month of May.  Frenchy had 9 multi-hit games during the month, including a 4-4 performance in a 2-0 loss to the D-Backs on May 20th.  He put together an 8 game hitting streak from 5/20-5/28.  The Royals will need him to continue producing, especially while others are struggling.  If the Royals can get Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer rolling, and others, including Frenchy, can continue to produce, then the Royals offence will be potent once more .
Honorable Mention: Irving Falu.  Since being called up in early May, most Royals fans have been trying to figure out if he’s the real deal.  Falu just continues to impress.  He’s played in 12 games, and in 43 ABs, is batting .326, slugging .442, and has held his own in every regard.  Time will tell if he’s in the Royals plans for the future.

VIII. Pitcher of the Month
    Bruce Chen
After going 0-5 in his April starts, the mighty Bruce found his groove in May.  He lost his first decision in May to drop to 0-4 on the season and his name was thrown in the hat of guys you wouldn’t want to see in the rotation anymore.  Chen fought back with big wins against Boston, Texas, and Arizona to improve to 3-4.  Just like that, Chen was back.  He had a disappointing outing against Baltimore, but then came back and pitched well against Cleveland to end the month.  His season record now stands at 4-5, but in May he was 4-2.   During 4 of those starts, he threw into the 7th inning, which helped to rest an overworked bullpen.  Lots of guys on this staff have the ability to throw a great game, but then follow it up with a disappointing outing.  Chen is included in that bunch, but fared better than the rest of them in May.
Honorable Mention:  Jonathan Broxton.  He had a rough start this year and had just 3 saves in April.  As May progressed, he found his groove and had just one stumble – a blown save against Baltimore in a difficult loss.  Set that game aside, and he gave up 0 runs and just 8 hits the rest of the month.  He’s turning out to be a viable option at closer, which could turn into either an extension or trade bait as the season moves on.  We’ll just have to wait and see what the Royals Front Office has in mind for Broxton.

IX. Compare to May 2011
     The 2011 Royals were just 10-17, and saw their good start slide below .500.  The month of May started off well, with the team winning their first two games and improving to 16-13 on the young season.  However, the team got lost in a 5 game losing streak in the middle of the month that saw them fall to 20-22.  A loss on May 16th saw them lost to the Indians 19-1 at home.  Kyle Davies lasted just 1/3 of an inning that day.  After back to back wins, the Royals lost another 5 in a row.  The Month ended with another 3 game losing streak before beating the Angels on May 31.

Eric Hosmer made his much anticipated Big League Debut on May 6th in Oakland.  Everyone watched with baited breath as he walked in his first plate appearance.  He would hit .283 for the month with 5 HR & 17 RBI, looking strangely comfortable on the big stage.

May 2011 also brought two young pitchers to Kansas City for the first time.  Everett Teaford and Danny Duffy both took the big league mound for the first time during this month.  Duffy started 3 games in May, received no decisions, but had an inflated ERA of 4.11 as Royals fans saw him throw way too many pitches for his own good.

X. June Outlook
     The Royals open up June on Friday with a 6-game homestand.  Based on the results so far this season, this may not be such a good thing.  After facing the A’s & Twins, they take an off day, then travel to Pittsburg h where the pitchers will get to hit for the first time in 2012.  Interleague play will continue when the team returns to the K to take on Ned Yost’s old team, the Brewers.  After the quick 3-game series, the Royals will travel down I-70 to take on the St. Louis Cardinals.  From there, it’s on to Houston before coming back to KC to take on the Cardinals again to conclude Interleague Play.  The Rays will follow for three games, then it’s off to Minnesota, where the month will end with a Doubleheader (make up game from the 4/28 weather postponement).  All in all, they’ll play 15 games against the National League & 12 games against the American League.  The Royals had better be able to turn around their fortunes at the K if they want to see their record creep back towards .500 –  they play 3 more games at home than they do on the road in June. 
     There are also some good promotions in June at the K:
     6/1 vs. A’s-Girls Night Out (there you go guys.  2 birds/1 stone)
     6/2 vs. A’s-Vintage 1960 Cap/Salute to KC A’s (throwback uniforms?)
     6/12 vs. Brewers-Hometown Heroes T-Shirt Tuesday
     6/25 vs. Rays-“Water Appreciation Day” – free water bottle (water appreciation?)
     6/26 vs. Rays-Vintage T-Shirt (that looks somewhat similar to Rays color scheme?)

XI. Summary
     The Royals put up a winning record in May for the first time since they went 14-12 in 2000.  It’s a small step, but a good sign for this young team that is still taking its lumps.  That’s just what Royals fans have been clamoring for over the past several years – get the guys you want in Kansas City & let them figure it out.  That’s what they’re doing, so we need to give them some slack every now & then.  We all want them to go wild this year and win the division.  It’s not going to happen, but they’re going to get better.  They’re learning every day.  They’re being allowed to fail at the big league level.  Because of that, they will be better down the road.  I believe in the coaching staff, and in the moves they’re making.  The team seems to be on the right track – we’ll see if they can carry May’s momentum into June.