Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Royals come back despite Emil's best non-effort

In the dismal first inning of tonight’s KC win against the White Sox, Emil Brown showed me again why it is that I despise him. It was that ugly little “bloop double” (typing those two words together hurts my stomach) by A.J. Pierzynski. The ball dropped squarely in the middle of Brown, Alex Gordon, and Tony Pena Jr. That isn’t what angered me, because it was one of those kooky bloopers that is exactly where nobody can reach it. But Brown was the one who grabbed the ball after it hit the ground, and he lazily lobbed it to 2nd base, where Pierzynski was only safe by a narrow margin. Ryan LeFebvre and Paul Splittorff agreed with my mental assessment that an ounce of effort on Brown’s part would have made it an out at 2nd rather than a “bloop double.” That would have meant two fewer runs charged to Brian Bannister, 16 fewer pitches, and the opportunity to settle down and give some good innings.

Instead, Banny had to be taken out after giving up 5 runs in two thirds of an inning. It was by far his shortest big league outing, and probably completely snuffed out whatever hope was left in his Rookie of the Year race with Boston’s 2nd baseman Dustin Pedroia. It was a pretty garbagey way to start tonight’s game, and a garbagey way for Bannister to finish off his season. And it all could have been prevented if Emil had bothered to put forth any glimmer of effort.

Brown should learn some things from Mark Teahen, who notched his 17th outfield assist of the year when he threw out Pierzynski at 2nd later in the game. Teahen hustled after the ball, and when he got to it, his back was to the infield so it seemed like A.J. had a safe double. But Teahen was the anti-Emil and made the out, which ties current Sox OF Jermaine Dye for most assists by a Royal in a season.

Speaking of Teahen, his baserunning in the 9th was phenomenal. It’s exactly what I want to see in a team. Same goes for scoring Pena from 2nd in the previous inning. Risk and effort on the basepaths is something that’s been lacking for the Royals for too long. When the leading thief on your team only has 14 steals, that strongly suggests the need for a little something extra from either your baserunners or your coaching style.

That first inning was the only bad thing about tonight. Once the KC offense got going, they never stopped, and I love that. The host of relief pitchers did a really admirable job as well, holding the Sox to zero runs and four hits after Bannister’s exit. Ryan Braun was particularly good, tossing 3.1 innings of shutout ball. That was his longest outing in a good long time, and he looked very confident and in control.

My Royals player of the game: This one is tough. I suppose Pena should get it, because at the time of his AB in the 8th, he was a triple shy of the cycle. He didn’t triple, but rather got another double to make it a 4-hit game with 9 total bases. But I would also like to consider Braun, who stifled the White Sox and kept the Royals in a game that could have easily turned into a hideous Chicago slugfest like we saw last week. I call it a tie.


This is something of which we’ve been pretty sure for a while, but now it seems official: Reggie Sanders will not be a Royal next year.

Over and out: Outfielder Reggie Sanders, who is traveling with the Royals on this last road trip, has spent most of the year on the disabled list and his season ended on Sept. 4 when he went on the 60-day DL.
Sanders, 39, has not decided to call it quits, though. He'll be a free agent and would like to play next season.
"It has to be correct -- a winning ballclub and closer to home," Sanders said.
Sanders lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., which would make the Arizona Diamondbacks seem like a possible spot. Sanders was with the D-backs in their World Series championship season of 2001.
He won't return to the Royals, his home for two seasons.
"I won't come back here," he said. "It's time."
Sanders said his left hamstring tear has healed and is in good shape. He played just 24 games this season, but batted .315.

2 comments:

Brad Haas said...

Surely his two hits, two runs, and stolen base absolved him for tonight...

Minda said...

Whoops, what is that I hear? The voice of reason? You are probably right. I suppose I was just bitter about Bannister having a less-than-Bannisteresque outing.

Good call, Brad.