Tigers 33, Royals 6.
But hey, they denied Armando Galarraga his perfecto. I credit Hillman's leadership, especially that "put away the chairs" thing he did in Spring Training. Oh, and league average superstar Jose Guillen's feisty attitude. He won't let this bunch accept failure.
Even with four garbage time runs in the first game of the series -- aka the Jimmy Gobble/Penacutioner game -- the Royals couldn't muster enough runs cumulatively to win a single game against the Tigers, a mediocre team with a first place lineup and a fourth place pitching staff.
Perhaps this is life as a .450 ballclub: a mix of the semi-good, like taking two of three from the White Sox and the wholly-bad in a proportion that doesn't quite cancel itself out. For this observer, its been a frustrating and embittering season despite the miniscule uptick in the team's composite performance. (At 45-57 the Royals are actually dead even with last season's record through 102 games.) Somehow, the particular takeaways from this season to date just don't inspire much enthusiasm going forward: the Royals are 32-52 against the American League and unfortunately, no more games against the Senior Circuit are scheduled. Oh wait, Trey's planning for a 180 game season. My bad. The Royals are slated to play the National League Champions this October. And Games 1 & 2 will be at the K.
But it really isn't about wins and losses this season, and just about everyone has known that from the beginning. No, what was needed was some sign that the core of the franchise was rounding into shape and that said core would be competitive for the next two or three seasons. That hasn't happened. Essentially, the positive developments this season have been DeJesus's career campaign, Greinke's emergence as a solid #2 (39th in VORP, before today) and... I suppose the fun we've had with Mike Aviles. (Soria was last year's news.)
The pitching staff that looked so good in April has slowly decayed to pieces. The Royals are 13th in the AL in ERA and 12th in SLG allowed. Hochevar remains not quite there and Gil Meche remains Gil Meche. Brian Bannister has struggled mightily in the face of some weird, 80's movie-esque body swap with Kyle Davies. The bullpen has had its moments, but after three months of attrition has become sufficiently Peralta-fied. Of course, it's also being asked to pitch four innings a night, so it's understandable that meltdowns and poor matchups have occurred.
Offensively, whereas we were initially afraid that Dayton Moore might have an OBP blindspot, we might now have to worry about his inability to acquire batting average and slugging as well. Ross Gload and Joey Gathright have been given 532 PAs, and have fifteen extra base hits to show for it. Mark Teahen has evoked memories of Terrence Long, and beloved aspiring DH of the future Miguel Olivo has been brutal for two months.
Most painfully, supposed can't miss prospects Alex Gordon and Billy Butler have mostly missed, while nightly we see highlights of Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and the like. Why can't the Royals ever have that guy? Hell, why can't we have someone like Jody Gerut? I'd much rather be 35-67, but with Gordon and Butler dominating the league than what we've seen so far.
And now the precocious Rays, like a more successful sibling, come calling, inviting all sorts of uncomfortable comparisons. Sure, Gordon and Butler can still breakout, much less improve. Sure, the starting rotation looks good going forward. Sure, DeJesus and Guillen give us a fighting chance to have a good outfield. All of that being said, there's been a lot more disappointment than satisfaction this season, creating a sense that, our guys just don't quite pan out like people on other teams.
Seriously, I don't know how this team has 45 wins, other than interleague play and some good timing regarding certain hit streaks and the cumulative good pitching of April. Non-building blocks like Grudz and Mahay have been valuable, and Jose Guillen's insanely hot June was just what the doctor ordered at the time, and makes his overall numbers less productive looking then they have been.
The Royals have one elite player, one guy who is perhaps the best at his position in the league, in Joakim Soria. Sadly, he's a specialist who plays less than half the time. Beyond that it's a more valuable -- though less viscerally thrilling -- Zack Greinke, maybe five guys who are safely "good players" and a roster that doesn't quite suck as much as it did in the past.
Where are we having that parade again, Dayton?