Originally written April 13, 2012 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
Friday's Royals' opener obviously was lost early when center fielder Jarrod Dyson misplayed a fly ball with two outs, allowing the Indians to eventually come up with four additional runs during a seven-run, punch-in-the-gut first inning. But here's the thing: If the Royals are going to hang around in the American League Central throughout this summer, they are going to have show a little more offense, at least more than the three runs they managed Friday and much more than what they've shown through eight games. Coming into Friday's opener, no team in the American League had scored fewer runs than the Royals, who were averaging less than three a game. While it is ridiculously early to be making any pronouncements, the lack of offense is significant because much of the talk about the 2012 Royals has centered around their two biggest strengths their bullpen and their offense. I certainly see the case for seeing the bullpen as a strength. I'm not sure I feel comfortable referring to their offense as a strength. Not yet. No doubt, Royals hitters will have their days, and they will probably hit for a decent average, as they did last year (.275). But the only real statistic that matters is runs scored, and the Royals were bunched in the middle of the pack last year and likely will be there again unless several players make big strides when it comes to timely hitting. No one is suggesting the offense is to blame for the Royals' 8-3 loss on Friday. This one got away early, first on a checked-swing RBI bloop single from Shelley Duncan, and then, as mentioned, on the wind-driven misplay by Dyson. Yet the offense could have made it interesting with a clutch hit here and there. And that has been the trend of this Royals' crop since last spring a lot of hits, inconsistent production. The Royals scored three runs, but peppered the Indians with 12 hits, and actually outhit the Indians by one. But one of the reasons the Royals lost 91 games last year was an inability to deliver the clutch hit. Most of the Oakland series and the first game against Cleveland featured more of the same. "We're not quite there yet," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We've had chances but we haven't really caught fire. I know we can, offensively. It's just not there yet." In the first inning, down 7-0, the Royals stormed back with three straight singles to get on the board. But any big inning was thwarted when Billy Butler rolled into a double play. A one-out single in the fifth was wasted when Dyson rolled into a rare double play. In the sixth inning, Mike Moustakas came up with two on and two out and flied out to right field. Hosmer had two on and two out in the seventh, but grounded out to first. And, in the eighth, Moustakas came up with two on and one out he promptly tapped into an inning-ending double play. "We certainly had our chances to chip away," manager Ned Yost said. "We hit some balls hard, like in that first inning when Billy hit into a double play. It's just one of those days." To be truthful, though, this is kind of who the Royals are. They do not have big boppers who can consistently deliver the three-run homer. When the Royals are good, they bleed you singles and doubles and stolen bases -- sort of death by paper cut. Kansas City fans, starved for good hitters to admire, rightfully have warmed up to Butler, Hosmer, Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur. But five good hitters in an American League lineup is not exactly Murderer's Row. In this league, the big boys in New York, Boston, Texas and Detroit can hurt you one through nine. The Royals have a solid foundation to claim a dangerous offense down the line, and someday may be a threat one through nine. But without Salvador Perez and Johnny Giavotella, and with hitters such as Yuni Betancourt, Humberto Quintero and Chris Getz, the Royals aren't going to scare many opposing pitchers night in and night out. That's not to say the Royals won't be effective offensively. They may have only five potentially dangerous hitters, but those five can do some damage when they're in a groove. The key to the Royals' offense, and maybe their season, will be how the Royals produce with their up-the-middle foursome catcher, second base, shortstop and center field. Hosmer, despite the so-so start, isn't concerned. "We're a confident group at the plate," Hosmer said. "I think we all believe we can put up some numbers. It hasn't happened yet, but we're confident it will. We will start coming up with the big hit and the timely hit. It will happen." It needs to.
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