Royal Ups and Downs - Shields 1, Longoria 0 Edition

" - USA TODAY Sports

The third installment chronicling the highs and lows of the Royals roster.

Nothing's more satisfying than a come from behind win against a team you've come to dislike, and the Royals have plucked on the heartstrings two nights in a row against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Yes, the Royals may not continue the success they've enjoyed thus far. Yes, long term, The Trade was ill-advised and desperate. Yes, Longoria and his ridiculous face are probably worth twice as much as most players on the Kansas City roster.

But dang if that doesn't seem pretty far away right now. At least until this alcohol passes through my system. Better to wave the victory banner while we have the chance, and perhaps regret it later when we remember who plays right field for our favorite team, than to not laugh a lot when James Shields works out of a tough first inning to key a Royals victory against a team that no longer has a Devil Rays mentality (yet seems to languishing at 12-15 so far).

Of course, I don't really find the Rays overall to be that unlikable, I'm just the opposite of a fan of Longoria's comments earlier this spring. It seems to me, in my uninformed opinion, that if Shields or anyone else had an attitude problem on the Rays, it didn't really affect their performance on the field and, if really existed, should have been addressed by the Rays at the time. Longoria's comments smacked of someone who should have said his piece when it meant something to the team, as the timing of it makes his strange wording seem rather petty.

I find the whole sports media driven idea that we should praise people for calling out their teammates to the press, usually centered around an intangible, rather ridiculous. I'm aware I'm preaching to the choir in regard to Shields, but I'm still pointing this out because I believe that it's one of the annoying things that pops up every-so-often while following sports that seems to help feed the legion of sportswriters and casual fans who assume that intangibles are about umpteen times more valuable than they actually are, and that a team's losing can be explained away by lack of effort.

You're doubtless heard this next idea before, from better writers than me, and ones with more access to people who might actually know the attitudes of certain athletes, but the classy thing to do would have been to just take the high road. And that's why it makes me so happy to watch James Shields and the Royals beat Evan Longoria and the Rays. It has nothing to do with a trade. It's more of the whole "if you make an ass of yourself, I'm going to laugh at you when you strikeout against Greg Holland after your team blows a big lead" thing.

On to this weeks Ups and Downs, the Pitchers:

James Shields - SP - Up_medium

Despite a first inning that seemed to never end against the Rays, Shields' only blemish turned out to be the two-run jack by Matt Joyce. Shields finished the night with seven strikeouts. The outing against Detroit wasn't as clean, as he allowed five hits and walked three through eight, while only K'ing four, but the results (8 IP, 3 RA) are still hard to argue with. The only thing that seems a little out of whack with Shields is the lower home run rate than usual, and he's currently sitting a hair higher than his career average in terms of LOB%. Regardless, this is who he is - a very good pitcher, and it's fun having him around.

Erwin Santana - SP - Up_medium

Followed up his strong start against the Red Sox with an even better one against the Injuns, scattering six hits over seven innings without allowing Terry Francona's crew to score any runs, which was cool. Speaking of baseball people that I used to have no problem with and now I'm not all that sure about, Francona was someone I always liked in Boston when I was following the Red Sox. Now, after the meltdown, he "wrote" a book with Dan Shaughnessy. Co-operating with Dan Shaughnessy in any way is pretty much a great way to get me to dislike you.

Where was I? Right. There's been some good work done by my fellow RR writers on Santana's early season success, and it certainly appears as if it's possible that this is one of his good years. I'm still, however, staring at that 89.5 pecent strand rate and wondering when we're going to get an outing where the strategy seems to be wearing out the other team by letting them run the bases. Still, green arrow because two runs in his last 14 IP.

Wade Davis - SP - Kablooey_medium

Oh, right. We traded for another "starting pitcher" too. Davis has somehow surrendered 38 hits in 24.1 innings on the season after his last two starts, to go along with ten walks. I doubt he'll keep being so utterly miserable, but if you were wondering why so many people balked at the idea of Davis possibly winning the Royals the trade, you need only look at Davis's last couple starts. There's a good body of evidence at this point to suggest Davis's upside is as a reliever, and the high strand rate in his first couple starts did nothing to change that. Silver lining: he still has a nice k-rate relative to Davisy standards, at over seven per nine.

Jeremy Guthrie - SP - Nope_medium

Guthrie managed to avoid getting a down arrow by--you guessed it--not allowing Cleveland any runs in his outing against them. His outing against the Red Sox was pretty ugly, as he allowed thirteen baserunners while only striking out two batters in front of the Royals vaunted defense, and still somehow only gave up four runs through six. Against the Indians, he allowed nine men to reach base, but none to score. Unfortunately, the first outing is the one that we'll probably see more of going forward, as he's still stranding more than 90 percent of his baserunners, and he usually is somewhere between 70-75 percent.

Fun fact - Guthrie has already equaled his wild pitch total from last season, with two. Oh, and he's matched the KC record for unbeaten starts, with sixteen straight in a KC uniform. I guess that's a better fun fact than one that makes me wonder what's up with Salvy Perez.

Luis Mendoza - SP - Kablooey_medium

I keep not needing to change the up and down arrows for the top and bottom members of the rotation. Yes, Mendoza is probably getting a bit unlucky right now, but no, he's not really making much of a case to stop being skipped. So props to those who said that Ned has that one right, for now.

Bruce Chen - RP - Up_medium

Hasn't given up a run yet out of the bullpen, so it's worth wondering if he soon becomes the one to pick up the spare starts. Eleven K's in nine innings is cool, and absolutely not at all what will happen if the Royals put him back in the rotation.

Luke Hochevar - RP - Up_medium

Given his recent success out of 'pen, part of which can be attributed to the Indians two cold-as-ice games at the plate, Luke could be forgiven if he was humming an obnoxiously loud rendition of the Drew Carey Theme at the post game spread. Everything about Hochevar being in a game is terrifying, still, but he's done better of late. Still not exactly thrilled with a seven figure mop-up man, but he pitched well this week.

Greg Holland - RP - Up_medium

(tasteless Dutch Oven joke involving Longoria has been deleted, because otherwise I will never be able to use the staff outhouse)

Kelvin Herrera - RP - Nope_medium

Three innings, one run. I was tempted to give him the up arrow, but I think that's because I want him to have already returned to something resembling last year's awesomeness, which he really hasn't quite yet. Weirdly, over half the time hitters put the ball in play against him, it's a fly ball, after only a 24.6 flyball percentage last season. Something to keep an eye on.

Aaron Crow - RP - Up_medium

Still pitching well, stranded two inherited runners Wednesday, and still thankfully not dead in a filming accident or played by Edward Furlong.

Gutierrez - RP - Kablooey_medium

Two scoreless versus Detroit, two runs allowed in two innings versus Cleveland. Listed as weighing more than Billy Butler on the team's official site, which is something that confuses me a little. He must be all muscle.

Tim Collins - RP - Up_medium

Had a rough outing Wednesday, but was generally the usual fairly reliable Tiny Tim. Has given up the same number of home runs this season as I have. Well done, Tim!

Will Smith - SP - Kablooey_medium

Wasn't a good outing for the Fresh Prince. I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of him, though.

Last Week's Questions:

1 & 2. Moustakas problem? The Royals have let him play through the slump, and he seems to be finding his stroke. We finally got a Moose bomb!

3. Royals stay in first for how long? Not long at all, but actually, we're back in!

4. Skip Mendoza if possible? Yes, though getting Wade Davis more starts shouldn't be a priority.

5. If Jeff Francoeur was a vegetable, what kind would he be? The kind that lands on someone's nuts whenever dropped.

Thoughts for the Week(s):

1. Does Guthrie break that somewhat meaningless record, or does Captain Regression get him first?

2. Moustakas looks better, so what's the deal with Hosmer, fellow RRers? Will he improve this month?

3. We go for the sweep today, do the Royals devastate the Longorias in mortal combat?

4. Has Yost gotten better with bullpen/bench usage since the start of the year, or does it just seem that way because nothing could be dumber than that one time bringing in Hochevar with men on base?

5. Fill in the blank. If Eric Hosmer has a .450 slugging percentage this month, I will _______

Bonus/Off-topic - Anyone see Oblivion? If so, what'd you think? Personally I can't stop watching the new Star Trek trailers, because I liked the first reboot and I like BBC's Sherlock a ton.

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