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Posted By Cliff Corcoran On August 26, 2005 @ 3:10 pm In Bronx Banter | Comments Disabled
Entering this weekend’s series against the Kansas City Royals, the Yankees remain in a three-way tie with the A’s and Indians for the Wild Card lead. They are also three games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Those three games are a haunting number as the last time the Yankees met Kansas City, the Royals swept the invading Yanks. That’s the Royals, the team that currently owns the major leagues’ worst record (their .331 winning percentage is fifty points worse than that of the second-worst Rockies) and, entering that series at the very end of May, sported an even worse .260 winning percentage.
In retrospect, that series came at exactly the right time for the Royals. Kansas City had just hired Buddy Bell as their manager and proceeded to win their first four games under their new skipper on their way to a 10-4 run. Meanwhile, the series came at exactly the wrong time for the Yankees. Their season-saving May had just been rudely interrupted by a pair of brutal home loses to the Red Sox (total score 24-3). The Kansas City sweep came in the middle of a six-game losing streak for the Yankees, five straight series loses, and a 1-9 team slump in which the Yankee offense scored 23 runs in 10 games (easy math: 2.3 runs per game). In that series in Kansas City, the Bombers were held to six runs by the Royals staff.
Things are a bit different now. The Yankees scored six runs in yesterday’s game alone and 23 in the just-completed four-game series against the Blue Jays (more difficult math: a representative 5.75 runs per game against a season average of 5.40). They’re also on a 10-4 streak of their own. Meanwhile, the Royals are just five games removed from a 19-game losing streak.
Ah, but what a five games they’ve been: 4-1 against two of the Yankees’ primary postseason rivals the A’s and Red Sox. As was the case in the initial meeting between these two teams, when the Royals win its usually in a low-scoring game. They broke their losing streak when tonight’s starter, Mike Wood–then making just his third start of the year after a respectable stay in the bullpen–and the top four men in the Royal pen (Andy Sisco, Ambiorix Burgos, Jeremy Affeldt and “Mac the Ninth” MacDougal) out-dueled Barry Zito and Justin Duschsherer to deliver a 2-1 win. Last night’s 7-4 victory in Curt Schilling’s first start since April was the first time the Royals had scored more than five runs in their last ten games.
Opposing Wood tonight is the Big Enigma, Randy Johnson, who has just one quality start in his last four attempts, that coming in a game the Yankees lost anyway (4-3 to the Devil Rays last Tuesday). Randy Johnson’s last start, in which he gave up six runs on four home runs in the third inning against the White Sox, spawned more speculation, aggravation, and rumination than I care to get into right now, but I did find a pair of articles particularly informative. The first is actually more than a month old: Jonah Keri’s Baseball Prospectus Game of the Week  column on a game Johnson pitched against the Indians the day after Old-Timer’s Day. Keri’s article is particularly enlightening regarding Johnson’s pitch selection and approach to getting men out this year.
The other is from SG at the Replacement Level Yankee Weblog , who wrote about something I had noticed but forgotten about regarding the similarity between Randy Johnson’s performances this season and in 2003, when he had mid-season knee surgery. Personally, I’ve been convinced for some time that Johnson’s back has been the source of his trouble, robbing him of the velocity on his fastball and the break on his slider that he’s needed to be his dominating self. To my mind, that this season so neatly matches 2003, when he also struggled with injury, lends some credence to that belief.
Here’s hoping the Yanks can put enough good wood on Mike’s pitches tonight to compensate, as they can ill-afford another loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Kansas City Royals
2005 Record: 42-83 (.336)
2005 Pythagorean Record: 43-82 (.346)
Manager: Buddy Bell
General Manager: Allard Baird
Ballpark (2004 park factors): Kauffman Stadium (95/96)
Who’s replaced whom?
Denny Hocking replaces Ruben Gotay (minors)
Chip Ambres replaces Tony Graffanino (Red Sox)
Paul Phillips replaces Alberto Castillo (released)
Aaron Guiel replaces Eli Marrero (Orioles)
Jonah Bayliss replaces Matt Diaz (minors)
Jeremy Affeldt (DL) replaces Ryan Jensen (minors)
Jimmy Gobble replaces Leo Nunez (minors)
Shawn Camp replaces Steve Stemle (DL)
1B – Matt Stairs
2B – Denny Hocking
SS – Angel Berroa
3B – Mark Teahen
C – John Buck
RF – Emil Brown
CF – David DeJesus
LF – Terrence Long
DH – Mike Sweeney
R – Chip Ambres (OF)
R – Joe McEwing (UT)
R – Paul Phillips (C)
L – Aaron Guiel (OF)
R – Zack Greinke
R – D.J. Carrasco
R – Jose Lima
R – Mike Wood
R – Runelvys Hernandez
R – Mike MacDougal
L – Andy Sisco
R – Ambiorix Burgos
L – Jeremy Affeldt
L – Jimmy Gobble
R – Shawn Camp
R – Jonah Bayliss
L – David DeJesus (CF)
L – Terrence Long (LF)
R – Mike Sweeney (1B)
L – Matt Stairs (DH)
R – Emil Brown (RF)
R – Angel Berroa (SS)
L – Mark Teahen (3B)
R – John Buck (C)
S – Denny Hocking (2B)
R – Donnie Murphy (IF)
R – Steve Stemle (60-day)
R – Ken Harvey (1B/DH) (60-day)
L – Brian Anderson (60-day)
R – Denny Bautista (60-day)
R – Scott Sullivan (60-day)
Article printed from Bronx Banter: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com
URL to article: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2005/08/26/the-royals-2/
URLs in this post:
 Baseball Prospectus Game of the Week: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=4210
 Replacement Level Yankee Weblog: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com http://yankeefan.blogspot.com/2005/08/16-million-fifth-starter.html
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