I can't believe this is the last Game Thread of 2008. Between games 1 & 162 I moved from Iowa City to Cleveland to Washington, got married and honeymooned. And then there were the games... it all seems like a blur right now, from the season opening sweep in Detroit (which coincided with the debut of RR 2.0) to the Battles for Grass Creek and all the usual Royal losing streaks. Nobody does a losing streak like the Royals, as well all know, and that isn't even hyperbole. I will not lie to you: I did not see this September coming. Maybe a .500 September, but nothing like this. Many of us felt like the Royals were a 75-80 win team at the beginning of the year, but after four months they had decidedly not played at that level. Yet, here we are.
If real life was like a movie, the Royals would have to win today, wouldn't they? Trey would simply walk into the lockerroom five minutes before the first pitch, close his office door slowly and say, "we aren't losing now are we?" in his John Wayne voice and that would be it.
Unfortunately, there's also a Twins movie being made, one that we can only hope gets killed in production.
- The Royals starter today will be Brandon Duckworth (5.06 ERA). Ducky pitched well against the Twins earlier this month, contributing to an eventual 3-2 Royals victory, thanks to an ability to scatter seven hits over five innings. In 23.1 innings against the Twins in his career, Ducky has posted a 3.86 ERA, allowing 25 hits, eight walks, but just 11 runs (10 earned) thanks to 19 strikeouts and zero homers. Team splits are usually pretty useless, but these numbers may be instructive, since the Twins have had similar lineups/approaches/personell for the entirety of Ducky's career.
- Of course, there is very little chance that we don't also see three or four other pitchers. Had the Royals not already beaten the Twins twice this weekend, we may have seen a minor controversy about the team's justified decision to sit Greinke. It will 100% not happen, but as a fan I'd love to see Hillman throw Greinke out there for two innings to bridge to Soria, should the Royals be protecting a lead, though the rational side of me can acknowledge all the reasons why that's a bad idea. Still, close your eyes and imagine it for a moment. Talk about a dagger.
- The Royal offense will get a chance to display its maturity against Scott Baker who seemingly has nearly no-hit them like four times. An ability to punish someone like Baker -- who has a bit of Joe Randa in him appearance wise -- seperates a functional offense from those that aren't, which is precisely why Baker's dominated the Royals in the past.
- I don't know how the White Sox win today. Essentially, in both literal and figurative terms, they've ended up with a bad Royals bullpen, and have been made to try to win a must win game with those players. And it isn't like they're losing 3-2 but everyone's blaming the bullpen because of a run in the 9th inning (hello Mets). They've scored 14 runs the last two games and have only barely been competitive. Paul Konerko is hitting home runs! They're at home! And none of it matters. They catch a break today in facing Bullington, but they may need to score 20 runs to win. Worse still, before the bullpen can even ruin things, they've got to rely on an increasingly over-rated Mark Bueheheheireelee. I'm reminded of Tom Glavine's final start with the Mets on the last day of the season last year on this one.