Tag Archives: Kansas City Royals

Zach Eflin delivers another complete game as Phillies shut down Royals

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Complete game shutout by Zach Eflin paces Phillies to victory

The Philadelphia Phillies (22-16) received a masterpiece from starting pitcher Zach Eflin, who completely shut down the host Kansas City Royals (14-26) by 7-0 at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night.

Eflin tossed a complete game, his second in three starts, and his fourth Quality Start of the season. The right-hander allowed just four hits, striking out seven and walking no one in raising his record to 5-3. He tossed 110 pitches, 76 for strikes.
The complete game shutout was the first by a Phillies pitcher since Jeremy Hellickson tossed one against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park back on September 17, 2016.
That same year, Eflin tossed a pair of complete games as a rookie. It had been the most recent time that a Phillies hurler threw more than one complete game in a season.
The Phillies offense scored in four different frames. It began with a two-run single off the bat of Rhys Hoskins scored Andrew Knapp and Andrew McCutchen in the top of the 3rd inning. A passed ball charged to Royals catcher Martin Maldonado allowed Jean Segura to score a third run in that inning.
In the top of the 4th inning, Odubel Herrera led off with a double and Cesar Hernandez was hit by a pitch from Royals starter Brad Keller. With one out, Knapp drew a walk to load the bases. McCutchen then grounded to third baseman Hunter Dozier who threw the ball away as Herrera raced home with the Phillies fourth run.
Herrera got things started again in the top of the 6th inning when he lead off with a triple off Keller. After the Royals starter followed that up by walking Hernandez the right-hander was lifted by manager Ned Yost, who brought in Glenn Sparkman in relief.
Maikel Franco greeted Sparkman with an RBI single to score Herrera and it was a 5-0 Phillies lead. One out later, McCutchen produced his second RBI ground out of the night to score Hernandez and make it a 6-0 game.
The Phillies wrapped the scoring when Hernandez delivered a two-out RBI single to score Bryce Harper in the top of the 9th inning. All that was left was to see if Eflin could complete his masterpiece. He retired the first two batters but then surrendered a double to Alex Gordon, who had homered twice last night. But Eflin bore down and struck out Dozier to end it.
The two clubs will play the rubber game of this Interleague series on Sunday afternoon. The weather is expected to be unsettled in Kansas City, but they should be able to get in the game. The Phillies will be trying to win their fourth series in their last five, with the other ending as a two-game split with Detroit.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

  • Zach Eflin: 9 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts,    pitches with   for strikes.
  • Brad Keller: 5 IP, 5 hits, 6 earned runs (5 earned), four walks, three strikeouts, 102 pitches with 57 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: ZACH EFLIN

The Phillies starting pitcher threw a masterpiece. It was his third consecutive strong start. He tossed a complete game to beat the Miami Marlins on April 28, then went seven innings in downing the Washington Nationals on May 5, both at Citizens Bank Park.
This was Eflin’s first road victory since he downed the Nats in his first start of the season back on April 2 at Washington. Over the last three outings he has allowed just 15 hits across 25 innings with a 15/2 K:BB ratio.

NEXT GAME

  • Sunday May 12 at 2:15 pm vs the Saint Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium III
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Zach Eflin complete game shutout leads Phillies past Royals

Royals series is an early must-win for the Phillies

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The Royals and their fans got to celebrate a series opening victory

The Philadelphia Phillies (21-16) continue their series at Kauffman Stadium with the host Kansas City Royals (14-25) on Saturday night. The Phillies need to come away with a victory in order to have a chance to win this series against the team with the worst record in the American League.

The Royals offense has actually been very comparable to the Phillies to this point, at least statistically. They are averaging 4.74 runs per game to the Phillies average of 5.11 runs. Over two more games played, the Royals have slugged two more homers than the Phillies. Kansas City’s .752 collective OPS is just ahead of the .751 mark of the Phillies.
On the mound is where you find the primary difference between the first-place Phillies and last-place Royals. With a staff ERA at the 3.96 mark the Phillies pitchers rank 11th in all of baseball. The Royals staff has a collective 4.99 ERA, just 26th among the 30 MLB clubs.
That pitching difference didn’t show up in Friday night’s series opener. Royals starter Homer Bailey shut the Phillies down on four hits and one earned run over five solid innings. The Kansas City bullpen then followed with four no-hit frames, striking out eight Phillies batters.

SATURDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES LINEUP

  1. Andrew McCutchen LF
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto DH
  6. Odubel Herrera CF
  7. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  8. Maikel Franco 3B
  9. Andrew Knapp C

ROYALS LINEUP

  1. Whit Merrifield 2B
  2. Adalberto Mondesi SS
  3. Alex Gordon LF
  4. Hunter Dozier 3B
  5. Jorge Soler RF
  6. Ryan O’Hearn 1B
  7. Kelvin Gutierrez DH
  8. Chris Owings CF
  9. Martin Maldonado C

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

  • Zach Eflin: 4-3, 3.00 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 41 hits allowed over 42 IP across seven starts with a 31/7 K:BB
  • Eflin has given the Phillies a Quality Start in four of his last six outings, and was brilliant in winning his most recent two over the Marlins and Nationals, allowing just 11 hits over 16 innings.
  • Brad Keller: 2-3, 3.99 ERA, 1.394 WHIP, 38 hits allowed over 47.1 IP across eight starts with a 36/28 K:BB
  • Keller began the season with four consecutive Quality Starts but has none over his last four outings. Walks have been his bugagoo, and he handed out five free passes in his most recent outing this past Sunday at Detroit.
  • Keller has pitched well at Kauffman Stadium this year, with his .182 BAA at home as the eighth-lowest mark in the AL.
  • Tonight’s starting assignments will mark the first career appearance for both pitchers against their opponents.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • J.T. Realmuto will serve as the DH for the Phillies on Saturday night. He saw action in five previous career games asa DH while with the Miami Marlins in which he hit just .200 with no extra-base hits or RBIs over 22 plate appearances.
  • Since the start of 2018, Maikel Franco is one of three hitters in MLB with more than 25 homers and fewer than 80 strikouts.
  • Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins are the only two players in baseball this season with 25 RBIs and 25 walks.
  • Hoskins leads the NL and is third in MLB with 63 homers since his 8/10/17 big-league debut, and is the only hitter in baseball with more than 60 homers and 145 walks in that period.
  • Since the start of 2017, Odubel Herrera’s 108 extra-base hits as a center fielder rank 4th in the majors.
  • Veteran left fielder Alex Gordon, who homered twice last night, is second in the American League with 64 RBIs since last August 1. Now 35-years-old in his 13th MLB season, Gordon was an AL All-Star each year 2013-15.
  • Gordon’s 95 career outfield assists are tied for most in MLB since 2010. His four this season are tied for sixth in all of baseball. Gordon is a six-time AL Gold Glover in left field, including in each of the last two seasons.
  • Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier entered this series leading the AL in slugging percentage (.661) and OPS (1.088) and ranked second in on-base percentage (.427) and sixth in batting average (.331) in the junior circuit. He went 0-4 with a walk last night.
  • Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi are tied for the MLB lead with six triples, making them the first teammates with at least six triples through 38 team games since 1981. In comparison, the Phillies entire team has a total of five triples combined.
  • Merrifield, who was thrown out trying to steal second base last night by J.T. Realmuto, has 94 career stolen bases. That is the most in the AL since his May 18, 2016 big-league debut. He led the AL with 34 steals in 2017 and all of MLB with his 45 bases swiped last season.

SATURDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION


Phillies visit Kansas City for just second time since the 1980 World Series

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Phillies visit Kansas City for second time since the 1980 World Series

On the surface, this mid-May series in Kansas City between the Philadelphia Phillies (21-15) and the host Kansas City Royals (13-25) at Kauffman Stadium might not seem very interesting.

However, when you consider the situations of the two combatants and the Phillies upcoming schedule, the importance of winning – better yet, sweeping – this series should become more apparent to all Phillies fans.
First, those situations. You can tell just by looking at the win-loss records of the two squads that they are in far different places this year. The Phillies lead the National League East Division standings by four games, five in the loss columng.
Meanwhile, the Royals are in the basement of the AL Central Division. They already sit 11.5 games in back of the first-place Minnesota Twins, 13 out in that loss column. In fact, they are buried in the cellar at the current time, a full five back in the loss column from the fourth place team in their division.
These are the teams that the Phillies must beat up on if they are going to really pull away in their own divisional race. Also, after this weekend the club returns home for the next nine games. That would usually be a good thing, and it probably is in the scheme of things. But they return home to face some tough competition at the start of a scheduling crucible.
Of the Phillies next 23 games, 20 are against teams who currently have a winning record. And the three against a losing team come next weekend at home against the Colorado Rockies, who are just below the .500 mark and are always dangerous.
The Phillies will return home to a four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers (23-16) followed by three with the Rockies. Then they go on the road to the Windy City and four with the red-hot Chicago Cubs (22-13) and on to Milwaukee for three more with the Brew Crew. A quick stop home for a three-game series with the Saint Louis Cardinals (22-16) is then followed by a trip out west to face the Los Angeles Dodgers (25-15) and San Diego Padres (21-17).
That, my friends, is what is called a “test” in the sports world. It is the kind of stretch that tells you whether or not you are a legitimate contending team or not. It is a gauntlet that can either make a team, bringing it closer together, elevating it to new heights, or expose it as either a flawed club or an outright fraud.
And so, this weekend in Kansas City is important to the Phillies. They are a better team than the Royals. But that doesn’t mean that Kansas City doesn’t possess talented players entirely capable of coming up with a strong weekend and sending the Phillies home lamenting a missed opportunity . Gabe Kapler needs to have his club ready to play, and they need to go hard after these three games.

FRIDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES LINEUP

  1. Andrew McCutchen LF
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Bryce Harper DH
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto C
  6. Odubel Herrera CF
  7. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  8. Maikel Franco 3B
  9. Nick Williams RF

ROYALS LINEUP

  1. Whit Merrifield 2B
  2. Adalberto Mondesi SS
  3. Alex Gordon LF
  4. Hunter Dozier 3B
  5. Jorge Soler RF
  6. Ryan O’Hearn 1B
  7. Kelvin Gutierrez DH
  8. Martin Maldonado C
  9. Billy Hamilton CF

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

  • Jake Arrieta: 4-2, 3.40 ERA, 1.244 WHIP, 40 hits allowed over 45 IP across seven starts with a 37/16 K:BB
  • Six of Arrieta’s seven outings can be characterized as strong, with only his April 27 start at home against the Miami Marlins as a poor outing. That would be his lone non-Quality Start (at least 6 IP, no more than 3 ER allowed) to this point.
  • Arrieta has four career starts vs the Royals: 2-0, 3.70 ERA, 22 hits over 24.1 IP with a 24/10 K:BB. However, three of the four came in 2010-11, and he has not faced them at all since the 2015 season. He made a start at Kauffman Stadium as a rookie with the Baltimore Orioles in 2010, and then made another start there in the 2011 season for Baltimore.
  • Homer Bailey: 3-3, 5.25 ERA, 1.306 WHIP, 34 hits allowed over 36 IP across seven starts with a 34/13 K:BB
  • Bailey has made seven starts, and in five of those he hasn’t pitched badly. However, in his two poor starts, he was miserable. Back on April 8 in his second start, Bailey allowed seven earned runs over five innings, mostly a product of three home runs. Then on April 23 he was bounced after just one inning by the Tampa Bay Rays after allowing four earned runs on three hits and four walks. In those other five starts he allowed just 23 hits over 30 innings with a 27/7 K:BB. Opponents have managed just a .219 BAA over his last five starts. In other words, unless the awful version happens to show tonight, Bailey can be expected to toss a solid game.
  • Bailey has made 11 career starts against the Phillies: 1-4, 3.74 ERA, 57 hits allowed over 65 innings with a 54/14 K:BB. His last came early last season when he went six innings for the Cincinnati Reds in a 6-1 loss at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies scored five times off the Reds bullpen after Bailey left that game.
  • Tommy John surgery in 2015 followed by surgery to remove bone spurs in his pitching elbow in early 2017 caused Bailey to miss most of the 2015-17 seasons. He made just 26 starts over those three years, 18 of those after returning in 2017.
  • Back on December 21, Bailey was included in a big trade between the Reds and the LA Dodgers, who subsequently released him the following day. He signed as a free agent with the Royals on February 9.
  • Bailey and Arrieta are two of five active MLB pitchers to have tossed multiple no-hitters in their careers. Bailey’s came all the way back in 2012 and 2013.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • This is the first meeting between these two teams since the Phillies took two of three games at Citizens Bank Park in the 2016 season. It will be just the second regular season trip to Kansas City for the Phillies, with the last coming way back in 2007. Of course, the Phillies famously captured their first-ever World Series championship by defeating the Royals in six games back in 1980. The Royals won their first just five years later. Both franchise’ now have two titles.
  • Tonight marks just the 13th regular season meeting between the Phillies and Royals, tied with the Los Angeles Angels as the fewest games which the Phillies have played against another MLB opponent.
  • This will be the Royals first Interleague series of the season. They went 6-14 last year in such games, and are 190-213 since Interleague play began back in 1997. They will face each of the Phillies divisional rivals later in the season. The Phillies set a franchise record with a dozen Interleague wins last season, and have a .600 winning percentage against AL clubs since the start of 2018, fourth best in the NL.
  • Andrew McCutchen has faced Bailey 51 times, more than any other Phillies player, and is hitting .314 off him. No current players in the Phillies lineup have homered off Homer.
  • Billy Hamilton, perhaps the flat-out fastest player in Major League Baseball, has faced Arrieta 18 times, most on the Royals. He has just a .167 average vs the Phillies right-hander. Alex Gordon is the lone Royals active hitter to take Arrieta deep.
  • Harper will serve as the Designated Hitter in Friday night’s opening game. Harper was the DH just once last season with Washington, going 0-5 with two strikeouts in a game at Toronto on June 17.
  • Today is the 29th birthday of perennial AL All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. An All-Star in each of the last six seasons and winner of the AL Gold Glove at catcher in five of those, Perez is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He is expected back at full strength for the 2020 campaign.
  • Over their last 13 starts, the Phillies rotation has combined to post a 2.42 ERA in leading the Phillies to a 9-4 record in that span, with their collective ERA as the 2nd-lowest among all MLB staffs during the stretch.
  • Keys for the Phillies? They are 16-4 when scoring first, 18-4 when scoring four or more runs, 18-6 when blasting at least one homer, 12-1 when they out-hit the opposition, 19-1 when leading after six innings, 20-8 when their starting pitcher goes at least five innings. On the flip-side, they are 0-11 when trailing after six innings, 1-4 when tied after eight innings, and are 0-2 in walkoff decisions. In other words, they haven’t done well when trailing late to this point.
  • A celebration of life for Phillies chairman and minority owner David P. Montgomery, who passed away earlier this week, will be held at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 3:05 p.m. This is a scheduled off-day for the Phillies coming off a west coast trip. The service will be open to the public with gates opening at 2 pm. Parking in the CBP lots will be free. In lieu of flowers, the Montgomery family kindly requests that contributions be made to: Phillies Charities, Inc., Citizens Bank Park, One Citizens Bank Way, Philadelphia, PA 19148.

FRIDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION


MLB playoff races wild with more than 20 teams still alive

Brewers and Cardinals two of many teams still alive
It is very possible that we are about to experience one of the greatest stretch runs in MLB history during the month of September, which begins in just three weeks.
A quick glance around the standings in Major League Baseball on Thursday morning, August 10, shows that three of the division races are already virtually over.
The Washington Nationals have a 14-game lead in the National League East Division. In the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers hold a 15.5-game lead. Over the in the American League, the Houston Astros are 13 games up.
With half of the divisional races settled, some might think that it was actually shaping up to be a boring end to the regular season. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you examine the Wildcard races, particularly in the American League, things really look interesting.
The Red Sox and Indians lead the AL East and Central respectively. Each holds a four-game lead, and both clubs appear to be deeper and more talented across their rosters than their nearest pursuers.
The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs are on top of the NL Central. However, this is the one race that is remains extremely tight. The Milwaukee Brewers and Saint Louis Cardinals are just 1.5 games behind, and the Pittsburgh Pirates sit just 3.5 games out.
The Cards are the hot team right now. They’ve won five straight, and have gone 25-16 since falling seven games below .500 on June 24.
“There were too many guys in this clubhouse who weren’t performing to their career norms,” first baseman Matt Carpenter said following an 8-5 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night per Derrick Goold of the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
“When you have that many guys underachieving individually and collectively, that’s not where we want to be. You’ve got to believe eventually that’s going to change. It looks like it’s happening all at the same time. Which has a chance to be special.”

Wild Wildcard races

In the National League Wildcard race, Arizona and Colorado have appeared headed for a one-game October showdown for some time now. However, if either should stumble, both the  Brewers and Cardinals sit just 6.5 games behind.
The Dbacks and Rockies will put on their own possible playoff preview next month. The two rivals, who have evenly split a dozen head-to-head matchups already, will meet seven times in September.
The real insanity comes courtesy of the American League Wildcard race. The New York Yankees control the top spot, sitting 3.5 games up. The Seattle Mariners have won 10 of their last 15 game to take over the second spot.
On the outside looking in for now are the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays, but each are just a game behind Seattle. The Minnesota Twins are just 1.5 games back. Sitting two out are the Los Angeles Angels, while the Baltimore Orioles are only 2.5 games behind the Mariners.
Even the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Detroit Tigers remain alive. While they have a number of teams in front of them, the trio sits just three, four, and five games out in the loss column respectively.
The situation makes for a lot of scoreboard watching. “It’s a lot more fun than not playing scoreboard, because then then you’re out of it,” said Rays’ first baseman Logan Morrison per Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times.
These next three weeks during the season’s “Dog Days” of August will almost certainly weed out a few of these AL clubs. But do any of them look good enough to run away from the pack? Not to me.
That AL Wildcard battle is the real show to watch. Five teams right now within 2.5 games of the final playoff spot. It is shaping up to be a truly wild September across much of Major League Baseball.

Whit Merrifield breaks out as Royals return to contention

Whit Merrifield emerges as productive second baseman
When the Kansas City Royals opened play for the 2017 MLB season, very few prognosticators picked them to be a contender.
The Royals captured back-to-back American League pennants in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. And in 2015, they won the second-ever World Series crown in franchise history. That isn’t all that long ago.
But fortunes of big league mini-dynasties can turn around in a hurry these days. The Royals slipped to a .500 finish a year ago. With the Cleveland Indians on the rise in the AL Central Division, and with an aging homegrown core, the Royals looked like yesterday’s news.
Flash forward a few months, and here we are in the Dog Days of summer. Heading into play on Tuesday, August 8, Kansas City is tied for one of the two American League Wildcard playoff berths. The club also sits just three games behind the Indians in the division.
As the season was set to open back in late March, Royals skipper Ned Yostannounced that then 21-year old Raul Mondesi Jr had won an open battle for the team’s second base position.
The losers in that battle, Whit MerrifieldChristian Colon, and Cheslor Cuthbert, were left to battle for bench roles with the club in the final days of spring training.

PLAYER PERFORMANCES RESULT IN CHANGED PLANS

Merrifield had an option remaining, and so ended up opening the year back with Omaha in the Pacific Coast League. He quickly showed that he could rake AAA pitching. Over 37 plate appearances, he hit for an outstanding .412/.432/.794 slash line with three home runs.
Meanwhile in Kansas City, to say that Mondesi was over-matched would be an understatement. He slashed just .103/.167/.179 over his first 14 games and 46 plate appearances. Mondesi did steal five bases, but he simply wasn’t reaching often enough to make a real difference in that regard.
Into the breach stepped Merrifield. Given an opportunity to start with the big club, he took it and ran. The 28-year old is now hitting .294 over 401 plate appearances. He has 13 homers, 49 RBI, 50 runs scored, and stolen 18 bases. In short, Merrifield has been an unexpected gem for the Royals.
A little over a week after Merrifield took over the job at the Keystone position, Kansas City began to win. Since May 1, the Royals have a 50-38 record.
Rustin Todd of the Kansas City Star noted in a piece earlier this month that the Royals’ vice president for communications, Mike Swanson, was reporting that Merrifield was in rare company.
Per Swanson, Merrifield was just the seventh player in big league history to produce 175 hits, 80 runs, 40 doubles, and 20 stolen bases over the first 162 games of his career.
“With his versatility, there’s a lot of things he can do,” Yost was quoted by Todd. “He can steal a base, he can bunt, he can swing the bat, he hits the ball to all fields. He gives you a good at-bat.”

IMPROVED APPROACH LEADS TO BREAKOUT

Merrifield was Kansas City’s selection in the 10th round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft out of South Carolina. As he rose through the Royals farm system, a strong 2014 season split between AA and AAA was the only sign that he might be more than a big league bench player. At least so far, he has turned out to  be so much more.
In a recent piece for Beyond the Box Score, Anthony Rescan broke Merrifield’s success down in a more analytic fashion.
“This year, Merrifield has displayed a solid amount of offensive upside. His aggregate offensive statistics have spiked up significantly. He currently sits at a 111 wRC+, .339 wOBA, and a .289 TAv. All of this is being done at a .309 BABIP as well.” ~ Anthony Rescan
Merrifield’s consistent production has been a key to the turn-around of the Royals lineup. Not once this season has he gone more than two games without producing a hit.
Since the MLB All-Star break, Merrifield has only upped his game, hitting for a .327/.366/.577 slash line and six home runs in that span.
The Royals have surprised many by fighting back into contention here in the 2017 season. However, the club has now dropped six of their last eight games. And they just lost their all-star catcher and team leader Salvador Perez until September.
To stay in the race, Kansas City is going to need their remaining veteran core of Eric HosmerMike MoustakasLorenzo Cain, and Alex Gordon to step up in the lineup. Continued production from Merrifield is also sure to go a long way towards the Royals returning to postseason baseball.