Douglas Benton. 19th April, 2011 - 4:13 am
The Kansas City Royals are now 10-5 after taking three out of four games from the Seattle Mariners, which included beating ace Felix Hernandez. The Royals are one of four teams in the American League with double digit wins, while Seattle has the worst record in baseball.
Kansas City Royals
Kansas City had strong starting pitching throughout the series, led by Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar. Chen threw the opener in going eight innings in giving up just one unearned run while Hochevar pitched seven innings of one run ball. As a whole, the pitching staff averaged less than five strikeouts per game in showing a general lack of dominant stuff. The Royals are currently No. 15 in team ERA following the series and consistent starting pitching will keep them in this race longer.
Outfielder Jeff Francoeur was once a can't miss prospect for the Atlanta Braves and after bouncing around, may have found a new home in Kansas City. In three games against Seattle, he went 5-for-10 with a home run, double, three RBI and three runs scored. Patience at the plate has been one of the detriments to Francoeur's development as a hitter in ranking No. 162 in pitches seen per plate appearance at 3.42. He was a little bit better at 3.81 pitches per plate appearance in the Seattle series.
After injuries halted any real development for outfielder Alex Gordon, the once promising infielder is off to a good start. He is hitting .365 and slugging .540 through 14 games after a quality showing over the weekend. In three games, he went 5-for-11 with a pair of doubles, four runs scored and four RBI. With players like Gordon and Fancoeur in the middle of the order, the Royals do a good job of turning the line-up over despite the lack of a true power hitter.
To acquire Erik Bedard from the Baltimore Orioles a few offseasons ago, the Mariners had to give up talented young outfielder Adam Jones among other pieces. The return on the investment hasn't met expectations and appears to be trending the wrong way. After going a combined 11-7 in 30 starts over the past two seasons, Bedard is off to a 0-3 record with an 8.56 ERA. In a loss to Kansas City, he went 4.2 innings in giving up seven hits, five runs, three walks and six strikeouts. He gave up two home runs and threw 106 pitches and hasn't made it past the fifth inning this year.
In another big trade for Seattle in sending away left-hander Cliff Lee last summer, the Mariners received highly touted first baseman Justin Smoak in return. He went 4-for-10 with three walks against the Kansas City staff and is No. 34 in baseball for on-base percentage at .403. The power is still to come from Smoak, but he is taking the gradual steps as a building piece for the Seattle offense.
Chone Figgins is off to a very slow start as he continues to try and carry forward his overall impact seen in his days with the Los Angeles Angels to the Seattle Mariners. He is hitting .143 in 14 games this year with one stolen base. Against Kansas City, he went 2-for-18 with a run scored. A productive Figgins along with outfielder Ichiro Suzuki at the top of the order really changes this line-up and could provide a spark to one of the worst offensive teams thus far.