I am having difficulty containing my amazement at the start that the Kansas City Royals are off to in the young 2008 season. At 3-0, they are alone atop the AL Central. Three games in, this is the deepest into the season they have had the outright division since 2003. Wow, that's a pretty sad statement, isn't it? What is there to be happy about in KC in terms of sports? The Chiefs blew last year (4-12, seriously?), the Royals are a perennial nightmare and even the Arena League Football team, the Brigade, is off to an 0-4 start (Does KC still have that MLS team, the Wizards? Oh yeah, that's right, soccer isn't popular in the US). The Royals win three games and the city is buzzing. Finally something to look forward to around here.
Here are a few stats from the first series:
Total errors committed by KC - 0
Total hits/game by KC - 9.67
Total runs/game by KC offense - 4.33
Team ERA by KC - 1.55
If they can perform at anything close to this level for the season, they will be competitive. I know that they can't keep their pace and finish with a 162-0 record for the season. I can assume that a .500 season is a definite possibility - if they perform close to what they look like now. No KC fan can rule out a collapse because we've seen it so many times in the last 20 years.
Trey Hillman has impressed me with his managerial decisions as well. He outmanaged a long time veteran in Jim Leyland in the opener. Leyland was left with only one additional reliever when the game headed into the 10th inning and had already used his closer. Hillman kept his bullpen fresh, opting to let Tomko (the #5 starter that won't appear for another week because of the off day) and Nunez throw two innings each and kept his closer (Soria) available to pitch after KC took the lead in the top of the 11th. In game 2, Bannister pitched seven shutout innings, and Hillman opted to use Nunez and Soria again. The rest of the league doesn't get to see anything more than they already have of the KC bullpen and he keeps the rest of the bullpen fresh and ready to go. In game three, Greinke goes seven and only gives up on run... the first run allowed by KC in the last 19 innings before turning it over to the bullpen. They go two more scoreless innings and KC is sitting at 3-0. What a start!
I thought that with the way the schedule was set (having to play at Detroit, at Minnesota then the home opener against the Yankees) that if the Royals started the season 3-6, they would be off to a reasonable start. Now they just have to avoid dropping the next six games and I will be overjoyed. I have been looking forward to the start of the season for months... now I'm looking forward to the rest of the season!
Coming up - Minnesota @ KC next Saturday (4/12) - I've got two tickets and Megan and I will be (hopefully) picking up the stadium promotion of the new powder blue Royals jerseys. Yeah, that's right, they're giving away JERSEYS! Hell yeah! Photos will be posted the following week. Free freakin' jersey!