October 2011

IT’S A LONG, LONG ROAD

 The young Royals club faced the toughest test of their young  big league careers in late August and early September.  As the “dog days” of August were hitting them, they took off for what was, in effect, a 20 day, six-city road trip.  While one of those cities was KC, the adventure was 17 out of 20 on the road in a 20 day period.  So the three-day stop at home almost felt like just another part of an extended, three week trip.  The good news was the young Royals handled it well. They went 9-8 in the road games, and 10-10 overall.  The stretch also finished a stretch in which they played 40 games in 41 days.
 
Stop number one was Toronto, where former Royal Jose Bautista has emerged as one of the premier power hitters in our game.  In 2004 he bounced from Baltimore to Tampa Bay to Kansas City to Pittsburgh.  So a former journeyman, and future home run king has gone from anonimity to being featured on billboards around the Greater Toronto Area.  In a town where hockey dominates, a new baseball hero sings the praises of Booster Juice (wasn’t Michael Keaton in that?…oh sorry..I was thinking of Beattlejuice).  Royals took 2 of 3 in Toronto.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Royals then spent a weekend in Cleveland, where the Indians were trying to hang on in the AL Central race.  Adding to the buzz, the return of Jim Thome.  The 41 year old slugger came back, as the Indians were hoping his bat would give the Tribe the edge they would need.  The “Welcome Thome” celebration created a nice story, and in a tight series (3 one-run games), the Indians took 2 out of 3.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The trip continued with 4 games at Comerica Park, where the Tigers were marching toward an AL Central title.  As the season moved along, the Tigers emerged as the best team in 2011.  But the Royals battled them to a 2-2 split in this series (which included a make up game from a rainout earlier in the season.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
So after 10 days away (and a 5-5 trip), the Royals came home for 3 days.  It was a chance to do laundry, and play three quick games over Labor Day weekend.  The weather was gorgeous, but Cleveland took 2 out of 3.  Because it was such a short stay, it almost felt like another part of the road trip.  Of course it’s always great to be home, no matter how short the stay.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
So after the quick stop at home, it was off to the Bay Area.  The Royals stay in downtown San Francisco.  The weather there was perfect…The three-game series in Oakland got off to a great start…winning the first two games.  A little too much Guillermo Moscoso (Oakland’s starter in Game 3) prevented a sweep, but winning 2 of 3 set the stage for the final four games of this three-week journey.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Few places in North America can rival the beauty of a sunny day in Seattle.  In the four-game series at Safeco Field, the roof never closed once.  While the Mariners won the first two games (Game 2 best remembered for Jeff Francoeur’s incredible home run-robbing catch in right field), the Royals bounced back after losing the first two and won the final two games of the series and  (in effect) their three-week road trip.  And to top it all off, the trip ended on September 11th.  And as every club did, the Mariners saluted firefighters and police on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.  Once the game began, rookie lefty Everett Teaford made his first Major League start and he and his teammates beat the Mariners, completing a 4-3 trip and a 10-10 three-week trek through the Eastern, Central and Pacific time zones.
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