Saturday, July 08, 2006

Great Night at the K

The game tonight was one of the best I've ever experienced in person. Everything went right for the Royals and they played very well. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, looked terrible, committing 3 errors and not pitching well.

Luke Hudson had a good first start for the Royals. He did a good job of commanding his fastball and the Blue Jays' hitters made weak contact against him. His 4-seam fastball was from 94 to 97 mph on the radar gun and his 2-seam was 88 to 91 mph. He did a good job of changing speeds with his fastball and it did enough to disrupt the hitter's timing. His curveball looked good, although he didn't throw it much and his command of it was inconsistent. Nonetheless, he had a very good first start. I'm concerned that he relies on his fastball too much and if he doesn't have command of it, he'll have a rough night. But, the Hudson starting experiment is off to a good start and should continue because he has good stuff and has had success as a starter. Hudson was 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 9 starts for the Reds in 2004.

The Royals' offense had a great night, scoring 13 runs on 15 hits and 3 errors by the Blue Jays. Everyone except Emil Brown, who had a forgettable night, contributed to the Royals' offensive surge. DeJesus and Mientkiewicz both had 3-hit games and drove in 3 runs. DeJesus is having a great season. His OBP of .407 is outstanding and he's scored 32 runs in 44 games. DeJesus is a very solid all-around baseball player. He's not nearly as talented as Beltran, but he's a solid contributor at the top of the lineup.

Matt Stairs and John Buck both hit their 8th homeruns of the season. It seems like every Royals game I attend, Matt Stairs hits a homerun. Buck's power has always shown throughout his young career with 32 homeruns in 834 ABs. He's already averaging about 15 HRs a season if he gets 400+ ABs. With Buck's plate discipline improving (much improved K/BB) and his solid defense behind the plate, he has become a solid player for the Royals.

Another guy who impressed me tonight was Joey Gathright. He created the first run of the night by creating havoc on the basepaths. Burnett got distracted by him at first and made a poor throw to pick him off and he took second. Gathright tagged on a flyball and then scored later on a sac fly (no other Royal probably could have scored there except for maybe German). Since joining the Royals, Gathright is 12 for 38 (.316 avg) with 9 walks (.447 OBP). Gathright has been doing a very good job of getting on base. If he can keep getting on base and the Royals use his speed wisely, he and DeJesus will give the Royals lots of scoring opportunities. Gathright was caught stealing in the 5th inning, but the Devil Rays and everyone in the stadium anticipated it. The Royals were, however, very aggressive on the basepaths today and it usually paid off. Teahen and Brown both had stolen bases.

The bullpen made the game interesting before the Royals scored 9 unanswered runs in the final two innings. Affeldt had trouble commanding his stuff as usual. Dessens command wasn't much better. Wellemeyer gave the Royals two solid innings to finish the game. Wellemeyer has good stuff, throwing in the mid 90s and had pretty good control of his fastball today. He has pitched pretty well since joining the Royals.

Overall, it was another very good game for the Royals. The Royals are 7-2 so far in July and are playing very well. A .400 winning percentage isn't so far away is it? The offense continues to score plenty of runs with the young players hitting well and solid performances from the veterans as well. Amazing, the Royals are only 2 games below .500 at home.

This team has been much more enjoyable to watch. Fortunately, I was in England for most of the bad part of the season, so I was able to avoid most of the horrible start. The fans got a lot of freebies tonight. The Royals gave away free Cooler Bags to the fans before the game. The Royals had twelve hits and won, so fans receive a dozen doughnuts and a free frosty from Wendy's. The Friday night fireworks spectacular had "technical difficulties", so the fans can use their ticket stub as a raincheck for a free Royals' game. I was quite surprised the Royals gave the fans a free game. I was expecting 50 cents off a small Pepsi or something, but that was really nice. A classy move by an organization that hasn't been classy for nearly a decade. On top of that, we got to watch a great game tonight.

Here's a few pictures from tonight's game:


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