We have been here before, last year to be exact.
Like this season, Kansas City opened up with six games on the road in 2012 and split them. There was a gut-wrenching blown save in that group of six and a 1-0 loss. We remember all too well what transpired upon the Royals returning home.
Luke Hochevar surrendered seven runs in the first inning as the Royals feel to Cleveland 8-3 and would then loss the next ten games as well. It was brutal and it effectively ended any hope of even the most optimistic fan of contending or even being relevant in 2012.
Will history repeat itself?
Kansas City opened on the road in 2009 as well, taking two of three from Chicago before returning home. Andy Pettitte outdueled Sidney Ponson (who would have thought it) as the Royals fell 4-1. They then lost 6-1 to New York when C.C. Sabathia beat Horacio Ramirez. The Royals, who had scored just 8 runs in their first five games, then caught fire to win 16 of their next 24 on the way to the now legendary 18-11 mark. The lineup for the home opener:
Crisp CF, Aviles SS, DeJesus LF, Teahen RF, Gordon 3B, Butler DH, Jacobs 1B, Olivo C, Callaspo 2B
In 2008, Kansas City began the season with six straight road games. They swept Detroit before dropping two of three to the Twins. The home opener was again against the Yankees, but this time the Royals won 5-2 behind Brian Bannister. This was the lineup:
Gathright CF, Grudzielanek 2B, Teahen LF, Guillen RF, Butler DH, Gordon 3B, Gload 1B, Buck C, Pena SS
That Royals team would get to 9-6 before losing seven in a row. They would eventually fall 22 games under .500 before a big September pushed them to a quasi-respectable 75 win season.
From there you have to go back to 2005 for a season when the Royals opened up on the road. Again, it was six games and again, Kansas City went 3-3. They lost two of three at Detroit, but came back to win two of three from the Angels. Our favorite corpulent hurler, Runelvys Hernandez got the nod for the home opener and lost to Seattle. The Royals would get swept by the Mariners, lose two of three to Detroit and split two games with Cleveland for a miserable 2-7 homestand that foretold the course of the season. The lineup:
DeJesus CF, Gotay 2B, Sweeney 1B, Stairs DH, Brown RF, Long LF, Berroa SS, Buck C, Teahen 3B
We'll do one more. The Royals opened the regular season at home in 2002, 2003 and 2004, but in 2001 they opened up in Yankee Stadium and lost all three games. Returning home, Kansas City lost the home opener behind Brian Meadows 6-2. They rallied to win the next two, but got swept by New York on their way to losing five straight and eight of their next ten contests. The lineup:
Alicea 2B, Beltran CF, Sweeney 1B, Dye RF, Randa 3B, Quinn LF, Brown DH, Ortiz C, Sanchez SS
This little parade through the past proves nothing, other than prove that six games on the road to open the year really tells us nothing about how the season plays out.
Looking back at those lineups, however, I do like the 2013 Royals' nine better than any. Yes, I know 2001 featured three great players and two good ones, but the pitching..oh God, the pitching. Suppan, Durbin, Reichert and Wilson were your top four that year. Ugh.
We can debate whether this team is improved enough given the price paid to improve, but I don't think there is any debate that the 2013 Royals are the most interesting and potentially exciting group of the Dayton Moore era. Enough progress? Maybe not. Enough progress to keep us interested this summer? I think so.
Enjoy the ride while it lasts and, if you're headed out to the stadium this afternoon, have one or three for me.