The Kansas City Royals exceeded expectation for the first series of 2012 season. On opening day, Bruce Chen threw a gem. Chen threw 6 innings of scoreless baseball, however his efforts were not good enough to get the win.When Chen was taken out, Crow came in and dominated the 7th inning, striking out the side. The eighth inning, however, was a completely different story. Crow gave up 3 hits and managed to only get one out. Crow ended up giving 3 earned runs. Ned Yost then called on Greg Holland to get out of trouble. Holland gave up three hits and let two earned runs score. This outing was a complete 180 from last year. Royals starting pitching dominated this entire series. The strong group from last year, the bullpen, struggled like no one had expected. Francoeur led weak offensive charge from the Royals lineup with a double, but overall the lineup managed to only get 4 hits. Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain combined 0-8 with 6 K’s. The Angels got a strong showing from their ace Jarred Weaver who managed to strike out 10 hitters in 8 innings. Eric Aybar led the Angels with three RBI’s on a triple in the 8th inning. Of course the story of the day was Albert Pujols who, in his first game as an Angel went 0-3 with 1 K. The final score of game one was 0-5, Angels.
During the second game of the series, Luke Hochevar pitched a great game and was rewarded with the win. The former number 1 draft pick allowed runs in 6 1/3innings pitched. A great sign from Hochevar is that he threw 58 strikes in 95 pitches. Unlike last game, Ned Yost got much better results from his bullpen. Tim Collins pitched 2/3 of an inning and gave up 0 runs. Next, Yost called upon Greg Holland. Holland struck out one in one inning. Jonathan Broxton got the 9th inning and gave up 2 hits and one run. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas both blasted solo home runs off of Dan Haren. Humberto Quintero drew one walk to go along with his two doubles. This is a great surprise for the Royals. After the injury of Salvador Perez, the Royals expected the hitting from the catcher position to go down in production. Jeff Francoeur produced two out of the Royals 12 hits. For the Angels, Kendry Morales led the club with 4 hits in 4 at bats. The workhorse, Dan Haren, gave up 5 runs on 11 hits through 5 1/3 innings. The Royals won this game 5-3.
To finish off the series the Royals had Jonathan Sanchez on the mound. Sanchez was actually incredibly effective. Sanchez was throwing around 20 pitches per inning. The Royals helped the new comer in a major way with scoring 3 runs in the first inning, allowing Sanchez to be comfortable and settle down. Hosmer and Butler both homered and had 3 RBI’s off of Ervin Santana. Also, Escobar and Hosmer both stole their first base of the season. Alex Gordon continued his very early season struggles with an 0-5 game with strike out (keep in mind it’s only 3 games, but he is still struggling). Furthermore, Quintero added another double to his collection for the year. Chris Getz had 2 of the 10 hits for the series. For the bullpen, Jose Mijares had two strikeouts in an inning of work. Although Herrera allowed 5 hits, Crow managed to keep the damage to a minimum. Newly acquired Jonathan Broxton recorded his first save of the young year.
Overall, the starting pitching for the Royals stole a series away from an early World Series contender. This series win will be huge for the momentum heading into Oakland. While the bullpen has not been lights out, the starting rotation has been. Along with the great starting pitching, the Royals have done a great job of hitting in the early innings. Hosmer is in a major groove to start the season. Also, the help of Quintero and Getz makes the Royals lineup dangerous from every spot. If Gordon can’t manage to start hitting a line up change may happen. The season is young so I expect the Royals to not make a change, but they already have moved Cain down to 7th. With Escobar hitting extremely well in situational hitting, driving in runs becomes extremely easy for the top of the lineup.