Royals Outpost

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

25.4.06

Strong Effort, But Win Streak Ends

And SHAME on me for trying to capitalize on my team's personal struggles! Okay, I'll admit it: on Friday night, I thought I could get an easy win from Cleveland sinkerballer Paul Byrd the following day. After seeing how mightily the offense had struggled of late, I foresaw a cruise control-type outing for Mr. Byrd. Folks, it turns out I'm not clairvoyant.

The Royals, behind the strength of an 11-run spike on Saturday and a rare quality start by Jeremy Affeldt Sunday, won the last two of a three-game rendezvous with the youth-laden Indians over the weekend. Suddenly, the losing streak was in the rearview. In fact, they were only 2.5 games away from escaping the AL Central basement, and with the fourth-place Twins arriving in town on Tuesday, the boys in blue had an opportunity to remedy their standing quickly. For seven innings tonight, even the most calloused KC fan was entertaining the notion of a third consecutive 'W'. Unfortunately, this game went the full nine innings.

Luke Hudson (great first name), who had impressed me with his sharp curveball and plus four-seamer, gave up three singles without getting a batter out to start the eighth. Andrew Sisco gave up a go-ahead sacrifice fly, and the smothering Minnesota bullpen did the rest.

Scott Elarton had another strong outing, but a deeper look into the numbers gives cause for reserved expectations. Both of his strikeouts for the night came in the seventh inning, when he was pitching with runners on first and third. He also recorded 11 flyball outs to seven groundouts. He's doing just fine now, but when he doesn't have his best stuff with him, some of those flyballs are gonna land in fans' gloves, not outfielders'. Still, his 3.16 ERA should be rewarded with a 4-0 record, not 0-4. Hey, no one said signing with KC came with much glory.

Mark Grudzielanek grounded out in the fourth inning tonight, plating Mark Teahen. Minnesota starter Kyle Lohse, the only talented starter Minnesota couldn't mold into a go-to guy in recent memory, lived dangerously tonight: in six innings, he allowed 10 baserunners. Most teams would have scored more than one run against him.

Ambiorix Burgos, still stuck with a single save for the season, came in in another non-save situation tonight, logging 1.1 perfect innings, mowing down two. It's comforting to see our (temporary?) closer pitch well despite it not being with a lead to protect. He's definitely something special.

These two team will be back at it again tomorrow, precipitation permitting. Second-year right-hander Scott Baker will toe the rubber for Minnesota. Despite not being a power pitcher, Baker has been impressive, shutting down the Yankees for seven innings in his start before last. He has a 3.31 ERA on the year.

Runelvys Hernandez will make his first 2006 start in the majors tomorrow after being sent to the minors to get in playing shape. Let's see if our chubby buddy has dropped a few!

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