Judging the Royals

Lee Judge breaks down the Royals, game by game.

Royals Live

The Royals lose quick

There’s a saying in baseball: if you’re going to lose, lose quick. Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes after Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber threw the first pitch of the game to Nori Aoki, he threw the last pitch of the game to Alex Gordon. Kluber is another sinker/slider guy and one look at the scorebook tells you he had the sinker working on Thursday; only two fly ball outs. The Royals were either pounding the ball in the ground or striking out for most of the day.

Kluber was also efficient; 15 pitches per inning is about normal—after three innings Kluber had thrown 34. It got worse; after five innings Kluber had thrown 55 pitches. 11 pitches per inning mean the starter can throw a complete game. When a pitcher is dealing, one of the strategies is to make him work, run his pitch count up, get him out of there and take a shot at the bullpen—maybe one of them will have a bad day.

The Royals were never able to make Kluber work hard and after he got a five-run lead in the fifth inning it only got worse. The Royals were taking pitches, but Kluber was pounding the strike zone. If the Royals took a strike they were falling behind in the count and of the five Royals who didn’t take at least one called strike after the fifth inning, only one of them—Omar Infante—got a hit. Corey Kluber threw a complete game in 101 pitches and beat the Royals 5-1.

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By LEE JUDGE. 2 minutes ago

The Royals beat themselves

If the other team beats you, tip your cap—they earned it and you can live with that. But if you beat yourself, you gave the game away. Those losses are much tougher to take.

The Royals began giving this one away in the sixth inning. Up 3-2 thanks to homers by Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas—and another RBI single by Moose—Jason Vargas had two outs and a runner on first base. With Yan Gomes batting, the runner—Michael Brantley—took off for second. The pitch was a changeup and finished low in the zone. Catcher Salvador Perez caught it just above the ground and may have rushed his throw to make up for lost time.

The throw to second base bounced and second baseman Omar Infante did not get in front of the ball—he played it off to the side. If an infielder uses his body to knock bad throws down he can keep short hops on the infield; if he tries an ole play and fails, that ball is going to be picked up by an outfielder.

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By LEE JUDGE. 14 hours ago

Don’t overreact to early season numbers

Back when John Buck was a Royal, he got off to a hot start one year and that led the Kansas City Star to wonder if John Buck could hit .400. Since John Buck had never hit .300 over a full season, it seemed unlikely. Turned out it was; Buck’s best season left him 119 points short of .400 and as of this writing Buck has a lifetime average of .234.

Overreacting to early season numbers is generally a mistake.

Things change rapidly at this point of a baseball season. Eric Hosmer entered Tuesday night’s game hitting .275—if you want to overreact that could be cause for concern. Hosmer picked up four hits and ended the game hitting .311—overreact and you might start talking batting title.

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By LEE JUDGE. yesterday

The slider that changed the game

The slider that changed the game came in the sixth inning. Let’s set the scene: the Indians had taken a two-run lead on a fourth inning home run by Michael Brantley. Coming into the game Brantley had hit .211 off Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and had grounded out in his first at-bat. With a runner on second base Guthrie fell behind Brantley 2-1; a fastball count. Instead of throwing a fastball, Guthrie threw a changeup. But the changeup was elevated in the zone and then elevated into the right field seats—Indians up 2-0. The Royals took the lead right back in the top of the fifth, 3-2 (more on that below).

Now back to the sixth inning:

Nick Swisher led off the inning with a double and the left-handed Jason Kipnis stepped to the plate. Kipnis is a 3-hole hitter and teams don’t always ask 3-hole hitters to give themselves up and move runners over to third. Teams often want their 3-hole hitters to drive the runner all the way in.

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By LEE JUDGE. 2 days ago

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About the Blog

Judging the Royals is an inside look at baseball and the Kansas City Royals. Lee Judge watches every game, talks to the players and brings their point of view back to the fans.