Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Clutter and closers

I'm not sure how much more I can take of O-Royals non-success at home. After the team did so well (45-27) at Rosenblatt Stadium last year, it's odd to see them lose there. It's odd to see the bullpen give up runs at all, much less Neal Musser giving up gobs of them all the time. Heck, he gave up as many runs in the 9th inning yesterday afternoon than he gave up all of last season at AAA.

Let's look at the 4-game series against Tacoma, which the Raniers swept.
Game 1: This was Tacoma's all the way. Omaha scored one in the first, and none after that. Fine, whatver; not the bullpen's fault. But then...

Game 2: The Royals led 2-0 going into the 7th (which was the final inning because this was a double-header). Matt Wright finally had an outing in which he looked like himself - 6 innings of solid shutout baseball. It was fabulous. Then Musser came in, which is generally not cause for concern, especially with a 2-run cushion. The on-field staff all prepared for our post-victory duties: Buckets of Victory Pigs had been prepared, I was ready to sing a song (because it ain't over until the Fat Lady sings). Yes, things looked good... until Muss started pitching. He walked the first two batters on eight pitches - ouch! - and then surrendered a 3-run home run. To Musser's credit, he did get three strikeouts in the inning, but the Omaha offense (and baserunning) didn't cut it in the bottom of the inning.

Game 3: Tacoma jumped out to an early lead from which Omaha couldn't recover. Not the bullpen's fault either.

Game 4: This game was a damn good one, until it wasn't. Brandon Duckworth cruised through 7.2 innings, giving up just 5 hits. Both teams pitched and defended well, and the game moved along quickly through the first 8 innings. It was tied at one-all going into the 9th. Again it was Musser on the mound, and again Tacoma busted out a three-run home run from which the Omaha offense couldn't recover. (Fun fact: Left fielder Shawn Garrett was the one who hit both of the game-clinching homers for Tacoma. They are his only two taters of the season.)

So what has happened to Mr. Dependable/Unstoppable/Don't Even Think About Getting On Base? For pity's sake, this is Neal Musser and it is Triple-A ball. Giving up runs...that's not supposed to happen. Not at home, not anywhere or anytime.

The front office and on-field staff have taken steps to cut down on the number of last-inning shenanigans by opponents. The "Fat Lady" suit in which we dress up to sing after victories is no longer called by that name. General Manager Martie Cordaro figures that referring to the Fat Lady while a game is in progress is a huge jinx. So in a meeting with the entire front office staff, Cordaro mandated that she is to be referred to as "The Closer."

It's just unfortunate that our closer has to be Eric Gagne.


Meanwhile, in real life, I'm finishing moving in to the apartment my brother is graciously sharing with me this summer. It's been less than fun trying to carve into the mountain of my clutter, but it's almost to the point where I could have a guest or two (more than that might not fit) over without having my stuff make the apartment a socially unacceptable mess.


One more O-Royals note, in case you hadn't heard: Carlos Rosa has been called up! No corresponding roster move has been made, so it's not all the way official yet, but he's been here in the city for a couple of days already. I can't wait to see him pitch, whenever it may happen.

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