Royals Outpost

The heart-felt musings of a Kansas City Royals fan who isn't always right, or logical, but does always care.

19.4.06

Royals Score One Run, ChiSox Sweep

"CHICAGO PITCHER JAVIER VAZQUEZ HAS A NO-HITTER THROUGH SIX INNINGS."

After arriving home this afternoon and bringing up my fantasy team's page, I checked the live box score and this message greeted me. I was immediately conflicted.

My rotisserie team, named the Dyna-Moe's and currently sitting second in the league, had just acquired Mr. Vazquez from an owner that was perhaps a little too desperate for saves, as I only had to surrender temporary Giants' closer Tim Worrell to get my hands on Chicago's new dart-throwing #5. After seeing how Vazquez fared against the Kansas City lineup at Kauffman, I suspected his first start for me would be good.

But seeing that he held the Royals without a hit until Doug Mientkiewicz nubbed a ball 50 feet up the third base line on a check swing left me with a hollow feeling in my stomach. The White Sox swatted Kansas City aside with such nonchalance that it actually made me not want to watch my team fight the inevitable.

The Royals, after surprising the White Sox by stealing two of three 10 days ago, have lost 10 games straight, sending their season into a swift tailspin. Their record stands at 2-12, and unless they start playing at least .400 ball soon, the team will undoubtedly be stripped of the few veterans even faster than expected. If you haven't seen Mike Sweeney live in a Royals' uniform, you're running out of time.

Despite the complete control Chicago was in from Jose Contreras' first pitch of the series, it was actually an accurate representation of the differences between the teams. They are such perfect opposites that one would think the Royals were actually Chicago's evil twin from a parallel universe. Right down to the pastel uniforms and untimely errors, Kansas City is the yang to Chicago's Fall Classic-winning ying.

In a series where a Kansas City cleat touched home just once, the Royals were done in by what they are so starved for most: starting pitching. In 21.1 innings against Chicago pitchers, the Royals' bats generated just nine hits. Joe Mays gave up 11 hits in just 5.1 IP (his longest and, sadly, best outing of the young season).

When presented with a performance like this one, it is reinforced in my mind just how far Kansas City has to go as an organization. Now, on to some KC happenings that aren't quite so bleak.

Opening Day starter Scott Elarton has been a pleasant surprise, although his short stint in tonight's game left something to be desired. He's starting to allow too many baserunners to keep this up, but with his ERA standing at 4.07, he's certainly been more useful than I honestly expected. If he can keep that number in the low 4's, I'll be extremely pleased. No doubt about it; he's the ace, now. Actually, with Denny Bautista proving once again that he should be in the rotation, Zack Greinke wrapping up his personal affairs, and Bobby Madritsch's left shoulder creeping back toward healthy, Kansas City could have a serviceable rotation by July. Until then, well.. it's Jeremy Affeldt every five. Yeesh.

The real surprise disappointment so far is how unhelpful the offense as a whole has been. They are scoring 3.75 runs per game, and yes, that is at the bottom of the AL. David DeJesus has been out with a lame hamstring (who called it?), but that's no excuse for Shane Costa to be the team's co-leader in home runs! Seriously: John Buck is second on the team in OBP. That is never, ever a good sign. I think it's a case of everyone looking to Mike Sweeney to lead the way, and the capitan feeling pressure to step up and lead the youngsters. Hard to hit when you're pressing, even harder when you've got a bone bruise in your hand. Hang in there, Big Mike.

With the mauling at the hands of the White Sox mercifully over, the Royals are off Thursday, then welcome the hot-hitting Indians at Kauffman. Their starters are expected to be Cliff Lee, former-Royals Paul Byrd, and Jason Johnson. Our boys will counter with Mark Redman, Mike Wood, and Joe Mays. Dang, overmatched again.

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