Thursday, April 12, 2012

Losing Ugly

I don't think it's exaggerating to describe the performance of the 2004-2006 Royals as a comedy of errors. Hilarity would often ensue as they would find one creative way after another to lose a game. Yesterday Ken Harvey and Chip Ambres were no doubt weeping with pride as Jonathan Broxton produced an outing that undoubtedly landed him a place on Joe Posnanski's wall of shame. Brought out to protect a one run lead Broxton struck out Daric Barton to begin the bottom of the 12th, and then, disaster struck. The rest of the inning looked like this: error, walk, walk, fielders choice (run), hit by pitch and hit by pitch (run, ballgame).

Alcides Escobar certainly deserves his share of the blame for the one out error but Broxton's failure to throw strikes is what cost them the game. Hopefully yesterday provided Ned Yost with a learning experience and he'll remove Broxton from the game should a similar situation arise.

The ugly loss marred an otherwise encouraging start to the season. They were two outs away from being 4-2 when they open at home tomorrow but instead limped back to KC at 3-3. Now it's hard to be disappointed in any .500 road trip, but when you consider how close they were, it easy to call the what might have beens what should have beens.

And really, you can make the argument that they should be 5-1. Yost's overreaction to Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon's slow starts was mocked in real time Monday when he trotted out a lineup that ultimately made Tom Milone look like a Cy Young contender. I'm not joking either, here's the starting nine with their career OPS+ in parenthesis.

Bourgeois (75)
Cain (93)
Hosmer (118)
Butler (120)
Francoeur (96)
Betancourt (82)
Pena (75)
Escobar (72)
Getz (68)

Unsurprisingly, they were shutout. Luis Mendoza was surprising, though, with a performance that straddled that fine line between lucky and good. In 5.2 innings he gave up 5 hits, 4 walks and 1 run while striking out just 2. While you can go all glass half full and focus on the 1 run it'd be wise to take a closer look at the other numbers because they come out to a 1.58 WHIP, 6.4 BB/9 and 3.2 SO/9. Trust me, he'll want to improve in those categories or his stint in the rotation will be over by the end of April.

The rotation did a solid job on the west coast posting a 1.85 ERA in the six games. However, they averaged less than 6 innings per start with Luke Hochevar the only one of the five to pitch into the 7th inning. In half the starts they never made it into the 6th, which begs the question, why hasn't Everett Teaford appeared in a game yet? Teaford has supposedly taken over long relief duties but has yet to be seen. Meanwhile five other members of the bullpen (including alleged LOOGY Jose Mijares) have appeared three times each. If Teaford is going to be treated like a Rule 5 pick then maybe he should trade places with Omaha's Louis Coleman. Just a thought.

It'll be interesting to see how they respond to yesterday's disastrous loss. Personally I think the day off today probably helps and I'm sure an enthusiastic crowd tomorrow will have the boys pumped up. It also doesn't hurt that they'll be facing the struggling Indians. Cleveland is sitting at 1-4 thanks in no small part to being 11th in the AL in runs and 12th in ERA. The Royals, on the other hand, are also 11th in runs but are right now, believe it or not, leading the American League with a 2.39 ERA. It won't last but it was fun to write.

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