Judging the Royals

Lee Judge breaks down the Royals, game by game.

Royals Live

The Royals are back to .500

The Royals completed a sweep of the Houston Astros and are now back to .500 with a record of seven wins and seven losses. James Shields got his first win of the season by pitching eight innings and giving up just one run. Shields also struck out 12, while giving up two walks and four singles—and two of them were infield singles. That’s some pretty good pitching.

It was easy for Royals fans to be down after their team got swept by the Twins and it’s easy for Royals fans to be pumped after their team swept the Astros—the hard part is keeping an even keel. I’m not great at math, but I’m pretty sure there are 148 games to go. If you have a great team you’re going to still lose 60 to 70 ballgames; you can’t climb out on the ASB Bridge every time it happens. Same goes for winning; it’s a whole lot better than losing, but guess what—you gotta do it again tomorrow.

Be like the ballplayers and keep an even keel.

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By LEE JUDGE. 12 hours ago

Minute Maid makes a difference

The left field wall in Minute Maid Park is 315 feet from home plate. The left-field foul pole in Kauffman Stadium is 330 feet from home plate, but the wall is curved there and drops away sharply. There’s no signage to give fans an exact distance, but it’s clear that hitting a ball over the left field wall in Kansas City is much harder than hitting a ball over the left-field wall in Houston—and both teams proved that Wednesday night.

Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie left a changeup up to the Astros Jason Castro. Castro’s left-handed and the pitch was away, but that short left-field wall allowed Castro to reach the cheap seats. Danny Valencia was slightly out in front of another changeup, but kept his hands back and hooked a Dallas Keuchel pitch over that same wall. In the sixth inning Houston’s Marc Krauss hammered a fastball into the same section of seats. In the 11th inning Mike Moustakas hit a home run to right field; a wall that’s 326 feet away—11 feet more than the wall in left, but still well short of what it would take to clear the wall in Kauffman.

Here’s the point:

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By LEE JUDGE. yesterday

Yordano Ventura’s first win

Tuesday night Yordano Ventura pitched seven innings while giving up four hits and only one earned run—but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. If I counted right, Ventura threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 28 batters he faced. (And if I counted wrong he still threw a whole bunch of first pitch strikes.)

Throwing first-pitch strikes and staying ahead in the count means a pitcher can use all his pitches; not just the ones he can throw for strikes. Hitters want to get into fastball counts and limit the pitcher to one pitch; a fastball. Hitting is difficult when you’re behind in the count and trying to cover everything a guy throws; hitting gets easier when you’re ahead in the count and can sit on a fastball.

Just look at the one earned run Ventura gave up:

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By LEE JUDGE. 2 days ago

How to not hit; advice from an expert

When Clint Hurdle was the hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies I asked him what he thought of Hal McRae as a hitting coach. Clint said hitters listen to some hitting coaches because they know how to hit; hitters listen to other hitting coaches because they know everything that doesn’t work.

When it comes to hitting, I may not know everything that doesn’t work, but I know all the stuff I tried didn’t work.

First, let’s start by admitting hitting a baseball is really hard at any level and insanely hard in the big leagues. I got to face Jerry Dipoto when he was a reliever for the Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Colorado Rockies. The first thing that impressed me was the velocity—90 miles an hour plus. The ball actually made a buzzing sound as it went past.

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By LEE JUDGE. 3 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.