After trading wins & losses over a 4-game span last week, the Royals get another chance to take aim at the upstart, division-leading Cleveland Indians in a 3-game series at Progressive Field this week:
Tues. Apr. 26. 7:05 pm CT – Luke Hochevar (2-2, 5.12) v. Justin Masterson (4-0, 1.71)
Wed. Apr. 27. 7:05 pm CT - Jeff Francis (0-2, 4.06) v. Josh Tomlin (3-0, 2.33)
Thurs. Apr. 28. 7:05 pm CT – Kyle Davies (1-2, 6.23) v. Fausto Carmona (1-3, 5.76)
A hotly contested first series should provide for an equally entertaining second set between these two clubs.
Luke Hochevar will lead Kansas City into Game 1. Keep in mind he had the Indians hitters stymied through 5 innings before absolutely imploding in the 6th and not only losing any hope of a perfect game, but losing the game itself.
What is most important about these games is how well the Royals will be able to put behind being swept by the Texas Rangers and moving on and focusing on what’s next. This marks the first series that Kansas City has been defeated in this season, so it will be important for them to properly handle adversity.
The Royals are off to a fast start with a 12-10 record, good for second place in the strong American League Central. In a division where most people picked Detroit, Minnesota or Chicago to win, the Royals and Tribe are on a roll. The Royals are using a technique that was successful for a long time in Atlanta.
Royals’ General Manager Dayton Moore has ties with the Braves franchise. He was with the Braves organization from 1994-2006 when he became the team’s general manager. He began his career with the Braves as a scout and eventually became the Assistant General Manager. During that time, he was a vital part of the Braves scouting success and has carried that over to Kansas City.
All of those factors have been essential to the Royals early season success. I’m not saying they will win the Central this year, but they have laid their cards out for the future. Several credible websites have the Royals ranked as having the best farm system in baseball this year. They have the talent in the minors to do well in the future and have already begun making those smart trades.
The team needed to deal long time ace Zach Greinke and they made sure they got enough young talent to warrant the Brewers as the right team to trade with. They acquired a good young short stop and two pitching prospects that could help them in the future.
Last season, the team dealt Rick Ankiel , a free agent in the offseason, to Atlanta, and got back a young OF and pitcher in the process. Both of these trades show how much Moore learned in Atlanta. You might as well get young talent back for guys you are just going to lose anyway.
The team has also made some smart free agent acquisitions, giving guys second chances. Three former Braves come to mind with that. Jeff Francoeur, Wilson Betimit and Bruce Chen all found their way to Kansas City in the off-season and have all played a large part in their success.
Moore has taken everything he learned with the Braves and added to it. With the extensive knowledge he gained from John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox, he should be able to help lead his team to success. Whether they can win 14 straight division titles is another story, but they will at least be in the playoffs at some point in the near future.