First place. The Kansas City Royals (5-3) beat the bad weather and the Minnesota Twins(4-4) by a score of 7-4 to reach that perch (Yes, I do know it is only by half a game – I don’t care!). Eight games in to the 2013 season, the Kansas City Royals are in first place. Feels good, doesn’t it. Even though it is very early in the season, and a lead in April means little more than their lead in March did, this feels good. Occasionally in the past, the Royals started off relatively well in April but quickly wilted, but this team has a different vibe about it. Let’s hope this team can stay in the hunt all year.
On the Mound
It wasn’t a very pretty night for Jeremy Guthrie (2-0). He seemed to struggle just a bit with what appeared to be a very small strike zone. He allowed in 4 runs on 6 hits, 3 of which were of the round trip variety. Guthrie held on for 6.2 innings, spreading out the damage, allowing 1 run in an inning 4 times. Tim Collins got the last out of the 7th, and pitched the 8th before giving way to closer Greg Holland. Battling the rain and his control, Holland again struggled to close out the contest. He allowed one hit and 2 walks before finally escaping unscathed. His poor control continues to haunt him and is going to cost the Royals more games if he doesn’t learn to throw strikes.
At the Plate
The Royals have been showing good patience in most games but they were jumping on the the Twins pitchers early in this game. Kansas City banged out 13 hits and didn’t walk once. This had more to do with the Twins pitchers throwing the ball down the middle, than the Royals hitters’ lack of patience. So far this season, most of the Royals’ runs have come after the 4th inning but on Tuesday, the first 5 Royal hitters of the game got hits and scored. Alcides Escobar had a fine game, leading the way offensively with 3 hits, 1 run, and 1 RBI. Alex Gordon continued to shine by knocking out a pair of hits, including a triple , and scored 2 runs. Billy Butler and Lorenzo Cain each added 2 hits to the win.
This and That
Before Tuesday’s game, the Royals had only scored 2 runs in innings 1-4 but had scored 31 runs from the 5th inning on. Tuesday, Kansas City scored all seven runs in the first 3 innings. It is the first time in 23 months the Royals have been 2 games over .500.
Player of the Game
There several good candidates in this game. I was going to go with Escobar but I changed my mind. Gordon’s triple and fine running, extended catch in the 9th give him the edge. Gordon becomes the 8th POG for the Royals in 8 games. Here are all the winners thus far – James Shields, Miguel Tejada, Jeremy Guthrie, Eric Hosmer, Luis Mendoza, Billy Butler, Ervin Santana, and Gordon.
Mike Pelfrey (1-1), in only his second game back from Tommy John surgery, was not sharp and it had little to do with a tight strike zone. He stayed in the middle of the plate for his 2 innings and the Royals knocked out 6 runs on 8 hits against him. Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, and Eduardo Escobar each hit a solo home run off Guthrie in the contest.
AL Central Notes
Chicago White Sox (4-3): Alex Rios hit his 4th home run of the year and Paul Konerko his first, but the Sox still fell to the Nationals. Jake Peavy surrendered 6 runs on 9 hits while earning the loss.
Cleveland Indians (3-5): Hothead Carlos Carrasco made his season debut by going 3.2 innings and getting pummeled by the Yankees. Carrasco gave up 7 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. He also got ejected for throwing at a hitter. He just finished a suspension for a similar incident against the Royals. He can expect another soon. The Indians got beat 14-1, continuing a recent all-or-nothing trend on offense.