Thirty-three down, one more spring game to go. In this Spring Training that has seemingly gone on forever, the Kansas City Royals have dominated with a Cactus League best 24-7-2. In the next to last spring game, the Royals beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Thursday.
On the Mound
It was a mixed bag for starter Ervin Santana. He gave up only 2 runs but he allowed 8 base runners in his 4 innings, including 7 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 3. Santana was able to limit the damage by not allowing a home run, a habit that crippled him a year ago. While he gave up 39 long balls in 2012 (1 every 4.56 innings) in 2012, he only surrendered 2 this spring (1 every 11.50 innings) in conditions that are more conducive to home runs. That is a very encouraging sign. Bruce Chen pitched 2 very effective inning, allowing just 1 hit.
At the Plate
The Royals offense continues to stay hot. Thursday, they banged out 16 more hits, 6 of which were of the extra base variety. Salvador Perez crushed his 6th double of the spring and hit his 2nd home run. Lorenzo Cain hit his 7th double and added a triple for good measure. Alex Gordon hit his 7th home run in the Cactus League (hope he didn’t use them all up). Eric Hosmer pitched in with three hits. It would be incredible if Kansas City could maintain this production at the plate in a reasonable manner once the real season starts.
This and That
J.C. Guitierrez won the seventh and final bullpen spot. Tim Collins, despite an awful spring, maintains his spot on the roster. The Royals released minor leaguers Ian Gac, Dean Espy, and Nick Graffeo.
Kansas City will wrap up its most successful Spring Training in it history on Friday when Jeremy Guthrie takes the bump against the Cleveland Indians.
AL Central Notes
Detroit Tigers: Rookie closer hopeful Bruce Rondon was optioned AAA, leaving a closer by committee situation in Detroit. Look for Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, and Al Alburquerque all took get chances. At this stage in their careers, Alburquerque may emerge as the man for the Tigers as the season progresses.
Cleveland Indians: Breakout candidate Jason Kipnis has been awful this spring, hitting well under .200 but he has produced 4 hits in the last 3 games, including a home run on Thursday. The Indians hope he is starting to get hot at the right time.
Chicago White Sox: Vegas thinks the White Sox are the second best team in the division. The over and under for wins for Chicago is 81. The line is set at 77.5 for the Royals and Indians. The Tigers are easily the favorite at 92.