Found April 22, 2013 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Royals are more than surviving their first early-season test, a rugged three-city road trip that pitted them against baseball's best -- first Atlanta, then Boston, and now Detroit. The Royals are 3-2 on the trip, and sit atop the American League Central at 10-7. Yes, it's a little early to start organizing parades through The Plaza. But it's not too early to give the Royals some love for standing toe to toe with the Braves, who had won nine straight before the Royals came to town, and the Red Sox, who had won six straight before the Royals showed up. The Royals split with the red-hot Braves, then swept the Red Sox in a double-header Sunday to claim the series. It was also the Royals' first double-header sweep at Fenway Park since 1971. One could even make the case that the Royals should be 4-1 or even 5-0 on the trip: Two bullpen meltdowns led to both defeats, though, to be fair, the bullpen has rescued the Royals plenty of times already this season. Sunday's gutty sweep of the Red Sox certainly takes some pressure off. The Royals will come home Friday no worse than .500, though surely their sights are much higher. Now, however, comes the real test that general manager Dayton Moore, manager Ned Yost and most Royals fans are the most curious about: How do they match up with the Tigers, who are the class of the American League Central? All of Moore's off-season moves were geared toward closing the rather cavernous gap between the Royals and Tigers. And Moore improved his team in the one area where the gap was at its largest: starting pitching. The Royals' rotation this year has been simply phenomenal, especially compared to years past. Through 17 games this season, the Royals' starters have a 3.29 ERA (last year Royals starters had a 5.01 ERA, fifth worst in baseball). And the starters have gone at least six innings in 14 of their 17 starts that is paramount to success this season because manager Ned Yost desperately wants to keep his best weapon, his bullpen, rested. Last season, Yost had little choice but to wear out his bullpen because of horrible starting pitching. This year, the team's starters have kept the team in every game. Only once has a starter failed to go five innings Wade Davis went four innings and gave up four runs in Philadelphia, and hasn't allowed a run since. Having starting pitchers fighting that hard to keep their team in the game, even when they don't have their best stuff, is the main reason the Royals sit at 10-7. The Royals, at least now, don't have the type of offense to win any shootouts. But the Royals have shown they are capable of scratching out some runs late in games, and they have pulled out unlikely wins mainly because the starters have kept games close. Royals designated hitter Billy Butler noted on the last homestand that the team's starting pitching has helped develop a new attitude in the dugout. "Our starters just keep it close and the feeling is that sooner or later we'll come through with some runs," he said. "Even if we're not swinging the bats well, maybe one or two guys come through late with a big hit to win it. But you'd never have a chance to do that if your starters don't keep you in games." That is the luxury the Tigers enjoy thanks to a powerful rotation consisting of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister. The Royals perhaps can't top the Tigers' rotation, but this year they can at least compete with it by countering with James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Davis. The gap has definitely closed. And keep in mind the Royals still maintain the edge in bullpen strength, especially now because the Tigers have not solved their closer question. Where the Tigers still hold the edge is offensively. The Royals can't match the 1-2 power punch of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, but they can compete offensively if -- and only if -- they start getting some production out of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas (zero homers, five RBIs combined). Only three teams in the league have scored fewer runs than the Royals (68) this season, and it will be next to impossible for the Royals to keep winning without at least an average offense. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, who drilled his first homer of the season Sunday, conceded as much. "I don't even think we're playing our best baseball," he told reporters in Boston. "Our pitching is doing great. But offensively, we can do better." Yes, the offense will have to do better if the Royals are to further close the gap between themselves and the mighty Tigers. But at least with a radically improved rotation, the Royals have bought some time for their offense to get on track.

Kansas City Royals Option Pitcher Will Smith

MLB News: The Kansas City Royals optioned pitcher Will Smith to Triple-A Omaha after having been called up to serve as bullpen insurance in Sunday’s doubleheader. While he didn’t get to pitch in either game, he should have another opportunity later in the year. Fantasy Ramifications: Smith holds no fantasy baseball relevance for 2013. The post Kansas City Royals Option Pitcher...

Kansas City Royals Call Up Will Smith for Doubleheader

MLB News: LHP Will Smith was recalled from Triple-A Omaha by the Kansas City Royals. On Sunday, the Royals played a doubleheader against the Red Sox and are allowed, by rule, to roster 26 players. Smith had been pitching well in Omaha with a 2.81 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 16 innings of work. Fantasy Ramifications: There is no fantasy relevance at this time for Will Smith. It...

Santana goes 7 innings, Royals top Sox 4-2

Ervin Santana pitched seven strong innings and the Kansas City Royals ended Boston's seven-game winning streak with a 4-2 win over the Red Sox in the opener of a day-night doubleheader on Sunday. The nightcap was scheduled after Friday night's game was postponed because of the manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. Santana (2-1) allowed two runs on six hits...

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Royals sweep day-night doubleheader

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The Kansas City Royals broke a two-week old ratings record on Fox Sports Kansas City. In other news, the latest edition of the “UFC on FOX” had a big increase over last year, and the [...]

Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Ervin Santana pitched seven strong innings and the Kansas City Royals ended Boston's seven-game winning streak with a 4-2 win over the Red Sox in the opener of a day-night doubleheader on Sunday. The nightcap was scheduled after Friday night's game was postponed because of the manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. Santana (2-1) allowed two runs on six hits...

Royals-Tigers game postponed by rain

Now the series between the Royals and Tigers takes on a new level of intrigue. Wade Davis against Max Scherzer on Wednesday. James Shields against Justin Verlander on Thursday. Those pitching matchups came about because Kansas City and Detroit were rained out Tuesday night. That was supposed to be the opener of a three-game series between the up-and-coming Royals and the defending...

Royals look to make big statement in Detroit

(AP) -- The Kansas City Royals are in an unfamiliar position atop the AL Central and hope to make a big statement against the two-time defending division champions. That may be difficult in a place that has given them fits lately, though the Detroit Tigers do enter this season series opener in a big funk. Wade Davis will try to help the Royals end their seven-game skid in Detroit...

Sox drop a pair to the Royals

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One Inning, Two Defensible Bunts

Although the “bunt wars” may not rage on, they are at least still simmering. The older, stale debates about whether sacrifice bunts are good strategy or the wastes of outs often miss the point by leaving aside game situation, game theory, the skill of the bunter, and other considerations. Even when such things are taken into account, discussions can get a bit abstract. Concrete...

Game 1 recap: Royals end 7-game win streak

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) The streak ended at 7, as Ervin Santana, and the Royals topped the Sox 4-2 in the first game of the doubleheader.  Santana out-pitched Ryan Dempster, going 7 strong, allowing only 6 hits and 2 runs to the Sox. Dempster wasn't that bad, and like Santana, going 7 and giving up 6 hits. Unlike Santana, Ryan surrendered 4 runs and 3 walks, though, he did...
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