Royals News/Notes- 8/15
These last few weeks sure have been fun. The Kansas City Royals are now in first place in the American League Central division. During a stretch of thirteen games, the Royals played ten games against the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. During that stretch, they lost two games, and have won eleven of their last thirteen games, and eighteen of their last twenty-two games. Kansas City is hot right now. Heck, they're downright flammable. What really helps the team is that Detroit is not.
When the Tigers acquired David Price many people thought that spelled doom for the Royals. Detroit has lost six of their last ten games, and have put Anibal Sanchez on the DL, and are seeking a second opinion on Justin Verlander's shoulder. It appears that Verlander won't go on the DL, but he is shut down at this current moment.
It sure seems like the Royals are getting some lucky breaks right now. They will be heading to Colorado to face a "Tulo-less" lineup, and to Texas to face a rotation that no longer features Yu Darvish. Of course, both teams are far from contention, but every little thing that goes the Royals well surely helps.
They will finish up this week in Minnesota in hopes of extending their AL Central lead. The Twins are so far out of it, they can't even see the Wildcard spot. Danny Duffy will kick off the series against Ricky Nolasco. Duffy's last start was 6.2 (which I predicted correctly) with four earned runs given up. Nolasco's last outing was only two innings. He has an ERA of almost six this season, so it would be nice to get some runs support for Danny Duffy.
Next will be Yordano Ventura and Phil Hughes. Ventura struggled with command his last time out, allowing four walks, while striking out five Oakland batters. Yordano has not gone more than seven innings this year, and with it being the middle of August, it would be wise of the Royals to keep a close eye on his pitch count to not over work the young flame thrower. Hughes in the last nineteen innings pitched has allowed just three earned runs, and struck out twenty-one batters. Kansas City does have a few batters in the lineup that have a bit of success off of Hughes, but nothing that is great.
Jeremy Guthrie and Tommy Milone will take game three. Guthrie is Kansas City's "worst starter" this season. Guts had a rocky start last time out, only going 4.2 innings, and allowing four earned runs. Tommy Milone made his Twins debut on Monday, and only allowed two earned runs over six innings.
This series looks like a good one for the bats to get going. Alcides Escobar is .421 (16-38) against the Twins in his career. Second baseman, Omar Infante is .304 (14-46) against Minnesota. This will also be Josh Willingham's first visit to his old stomping grounds. Though Willingham only spent two and a half seasons with Minnesota, it will still be a very emotional return.
The lineup for Friday night's game against the Twinkies will be: Aoki 9, Infante 4,Perez 2, Butler 3, Gordon 7, Willingham DH, Moustakas 5, Escobar 6, and Dyson 8. I'm not speculating anything, but this will be the second day in a row without Lorenzo Cain. Cain did pinch-hit in Thursday's game, so maybe Ned Yost truly is trying to rest his legs.
Every game from here on out is very important. I have no idea what pennant chase baseball feels like, but this sure feels like it.