It feels weird to be scoreboard watching in June, but that's where Royals fans found themselves tonight. The boys in blue jumped out to a big first inning lead then held on for a 7-2 win, while the Twins finished off the Tigers in a 2-0 win to put the Royals within 1.5 games of first place. The Royals will face a pitcher placed on waivers a few weeks ago tomrorrow, then a 26 year-old with a career ERA+ of 83. The Tigers have dropped nine of their last twelve. First place could actually happen.
Jose Quintana continued his struggles against the Royals with a disaster of a first inning. The first four Royals hitters - Nori Aoki, Omar Infante, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler - all singled, the latter two hits driving in runs. Alex Gordon doubled home a run, then Lorenzo Cain drove in two with a double and the White Sox quickly found themselves in a 5-0 hole.
Despite the big lead, Jeremy Guthrie labored, and rather than rely on his defense, he nibbled and actually struck hitters out. The White Sox came into this game with the most strikeouts in the league and added to that total, whiffing twelve times including nine at the hands of Jeremy Guthrie, the most he has had in a Royals uniform. However he also walked four and was unable to get through six full innings, leaving with two outs in the fifth after 110 pitches. Aaron Crow, Francisley Bueno, Kelvin Herrera, and Tim Collins were able to close the book on the toothless Sox.
Omar Infante snapped a slump with three hits, his first mult-hit game since May 29. Eric Hosmer drove in two runs and walked twice to go with his first inning single. Nori Aoki even added a double and two hits. I'm only half-serious, but:
Royals under Pedro Grifol: .251/.306/.348 3.79 runs per game, 1.8 doubles per game, 0.4 home runs per game
Royals under Dale Sveum: .270/.318/.409 4.79 runs per game, 2.5 doubles per game, 0.7 home runs per game.
I'm just saying there's room in the Royals Hall of Fame.
The Royals are 34-32, 1.5 games out of first in mid-June. The 1985 Championship club was only 33-33, 4 games back. In a small way, it feels like we're on our way to a championship.