Sal’s sweet hands save the day

Catcher Salvy Perez had to handle an in-between hop Saturday night in his game-ending play at the plate. It’s just what it sounds like: too close for the guy catching the ball to have much time to react to the hop, too far away to smother.

Tigers’ Torii Hunter pulls a veteran move

Tori Hunter has been in the big leagues for 17 years; the guy knows a thing or two. You hear stories about Hunter deking base runners by pretending he will catch ball he won’t, or pretending he won’t catch a ball he will. Torii will take a bad hack at a pitch early in the game—when there’s no one on base—hoping to get that same pitch later in the game, when there’s a runner in scoring position. Torii Hunter is a veteran ballplayer who knows how to play the game and you won’t get a better example of that than the fifth inning of Friday night’s loss to the Detroit Tigers.

Eric Hosmer and what we don’t know

In Thursday morning’s Kansas City Star, Bob Dutton had a piece about Eric Hosmer that revealed one of the reasons for Hosmer’s early-season slump—it may have been a sore hand. The Royals first baseman said that in the first game of the season he fouled a couple balls off while batting against Chicago’s Chris Sale and "my hand ended up blowing up on me." The piece said Hosmer’s sore hand ended up robbing him of his power, but Eric kept quiet about the injury.

Royals come out swinging against Scott Kazmir, Indians

The Royals appeared to ambush Cleveland starting pitcher Scott Kazmir on Wednesday. Hitters ambush pitchers by swinging early in the count when they expect to get a fastball for a strike. Alex Gordon started things by swinging at the first pitch of the game — a 90 mph fastball — and homered. The second hitter, Emilio Bonifacio, swung at the first pitch he saw — a 92 mph fastball — fouled it off and eventually tripled. Eric Hosmer also swung at the first pitch he saw — a 94 mph fastball — and hit an RBI single.

What’s happened to the Royals' Luke Hochevar?

OK, so what has happened to Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar? Last season, as a starter, Hochevar was 8-16 with a 5.73 ERA. This season, as a reliever, Hochevar is 4-2 with an ERA of 1.70. In Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians, Luke came into the game in the seventh inning with one down, a runner on second base and the tying run at the plate.

Indians' Perez throws biggest pitch of game vs. Royals' Pena

Chris Perez appeared to be staying away from Carlos Pena’s power and pitching him on the outside part of the plate. The count moved to 2-0 and that’s when home plate umpire Doug Eddings started giving Perez pitches down and away and off the plate. After a fastball and a slider were called a strike, Perez missed and the count went to 3-2. That’s when Perez threw the pitch of the night: a backdoor slider that locked up Pena for a called strike three.

Bruce Chen and the hot zone

If the strike zone was a bit bigger than normal and the Tigers were hacking early, that helped Bruce Chen. Ned Yost said Bruce could have easily come back out for the eighth, but with the bullpen rested and a lead to protect, he went to Kelvin Herrera for the eighth inning and Greg Holland for the ninth.

Ned Yost: ‘I know what I’m doing’

Friday night James Shields started against the Tigers. He gave up 14 hits and 10 runs and only lasted three and two-thirds innings. That was too long for many Royals fans. Shields was replaced by long reliever Luis Mendoza and things did not get a whole lot better. Once again, fans were unhappy; couldn’t manager Ned Yost see what was happening? Sure he could. But Ned Yost has to manage all 162 games, not just one.

The Royals lose by two touchdowns

Anibal Sanchez versus James Shields. The guy with the best ERA in the league versus the guy who leads the league in quality starts and innings pitched. If you were expecting a pitcher’s duel, you weren’t the only one. Over his last five starts James Shields had put up a sub-2.00, so when the Royals played for one run in the bottom of the first inning, it made sense.

The Royals longest game of the year

Over 400 pitches were thrown, 107 batters came to the plate, 29 position players were used, 14 pitchers went to the mound, there were 30 hits, 22 strikeouts and 13 runs scored. Four hours and 17 minutes after it started, the Royals longest game of the year was over—Mike Moustakas hit the first walk-off home run of his career and the Royals beat the Mariners 7-6 in 13 innings.

A walk hurts Aaron Crow and the Royals

In a game tied 4-4 in the ninth, Kendrys Morales hit a two-run home run and the Mariners beat the Royals, 6-4. It’s easy to focus on a ball hit 414 feet, but don’t miss the walk that led to the home run. With one down in the inning, Aaron Crow had Franklin Gutierrez down 1-2. Crow then threw three straight balls to Gutierrez; a fastball and two sliders. The walk was what got Morales to the plate. After the game Royals manager Ned Yost said you throw strikes to Gutierrez so you don’t have to face a guy like Morales.

Royals gamble on the basepaths and win

Monday, the Mariners' starting pitcher was Felix Hernandez. King Felix came into this game with a 12-8 record, a 2.97 ERA and 194 strikeouts. According to Eric Hosmer, when a pitcher’s that good, you better take some chances on the base paths —you’re not going to get many hits or scoring opportunities. The Royals made the most of the ones they had and beat the Mariners 3-1.

Big game? James Shields.

Just like players, teams go through slumps and hot streaks. A team has a big win and goes on a run—they believe they’re going to win and believing they’re going to win actually turns into wins. A team suffers a tough loss and goes into a tailspin—one loss leads to several more. Royals fans have seen this in action; Kansas City has been one streaky team.

A lead-off walk to Billy Butler backfires

If you learn anything from being around big league ballplayers, it’s that every rule has an exception. The minute you say you always do this or never do that, someone will say, not so fas t— there are times you go against the unwritten rules.

Royals' Danny Duffy dominates

A couple of spring trainings ago, Danny Duffy was sitting in the Royals clubhouse holding the biggest energy drink I’d ever seen. Pitching coach Dave Eiland pointed at the can and told Duffy that might be part of the problem. Duffy is known for being over-amped on the mound. He’s got great stuff, but can he control it? Wednesday night, he controlled it.

How Perez's base-running helped Royals in the eighth

Minnesota reliever Jared Burton struck out Billy Butler but gave up a single to Salvador Perez in the eighth. Next David Lough singled — and Perez helped break the inning open by going first to third. Perez is not a fast guy, but he got a great read on Lough’s hit, and that allowed him to make the turn and take the extra base.

Royals' offense gets back on track — maybe

The game that started in May in a snowstorm ended in August and mid-90 degree heat. The Royals pounded the Rays 11-1 in make-up game in front of an announced crowd of 20,546. If you were there, you know more than 15,000 of those 20,546 people weren’t. That number reflects how many tickets were sold back in May. In August, most of those people found better things to do.

Craig Stammen’s mistake

One of the first things they teach a pitcher is what he does when a ball is hit to his left: he breaks to cover first base. Not some times, not when he thinks he needs to—he has to do it every time. Do it 999 times and the one time you don’t do it? Baseball will find a way to punish you.

Wade Davis deals with inconsistency

In the fourth inning of Saturday night’s 7-2 loss to the Nationals, starting pitcher Wade Davis threw 28 pitches. He walked the leadoff batter on four pitches, gave up a single, a sacrifice fly, an intentional walk, a double, another single and in the process, gave up four earned runs. Sounds like a pitcher who had lost it, right?

Bruce Chen and the putaway pitch

A putaway pitch is a pitch thrown to a batter that has two strikes. It’s a pitch that starts in the zone, then moves out of it. It’s often a slider or split-finger pitch, thrown with enough velocity to get the batter moving his bat to protect the zone with two strikes, and then the movement takes over—the pitch moves out of the zone and the batter swings and misses. It’s called a putaway pitch because it puts the batter away.

A wild pitch helps White Sox sweep series against Royals

In the seventh inning of Thursday night’s game against the White Sox, the Royals led 3-2, but Chicago had the tying run on first. Conor Gillaspie had hit a curveball, and it landed just beyond the infield. Now the Sox had to figure out how to get Gillaspie around the bases. It turned out they didn’t have to worry; the Royals would give them some help.