With the Royals enjoying a day off, we fans have been allowed an extra day to bask in the glow of the sunlight of Spring optimism.
Sitting in a tie for first-place heading into the second weekend of the season is nice. For the most part, the pitching has been top-notch. The rotation has looked solid four pitchers deep. Sir Sidney looked good against the Indians Wednesday and was serviceable in his start against the Yankees. Davies has picked up where he left off last season, and his less dominant second start was marred by a handful of suspect defensive plays in his support. Regardless, the Royals are 2 - 0 in Davies's starts. Gil Meche and Zack Greinke have performed to all expectations, which were very high to begin with.
Their bullpen has been mostly overpowering (more on that in a second). Soria has had two uncharacteristically rocky outings, but he remains a perfect 4-for-4 in save opportunities. Juan Cruz has looked like the best free agent middle reliever on the free agent market this past offseason. Robinson Tejeda has looked particularly filthy. Doug Waechter has been effective, as has Jamey Wright, who I declared was "Triple-A fodder" during spring training, laughing off the idea that he would break camp with the team. Sorry, Jamey. If it's any consolation, I am glad you're proving me wrong.
The most frustrating part of this young season has undoubtedly been Kyle Farnsworth. The Royals have four losses to their five wins, and Kyle Farnsworth has had a hand in two of those losses. In his most recent implosion, he allowed one run while in the game and left with two runners on, who scored on a hit allowed by Ron Mahay (who hasn't exactly been lights-out either). In their opening day loss, Trey Hillman's usage of Kyle Farnsworth was criminal, with Trey bringing the Professor in to face the top of the White Sox order in a close game and when he got into trouble was allowed to face Thome, who has shredded right-handed pitching for the past 15 years.
In the most recent loss, Hillman brought Farnsworth in to begin the seventh inning of a tie game. Granted, we would all like Trey to only use Farnsworth when the Royals had a ten-run lead, but he had used Juan Cruz for two-innings the night before (not that Cruz would have pitched in the seventh, but the bullpen was weakened by Davies's inability the night before to get through the sixth), and Hillman only allowed Farnsworth to give up one run while in the game. Part of the onus for the second and third earned runs in the seventh rests on the shoulders of Ron Mahay, who allowed those inherited runners to score. As for the balk, what the fuck, Farnsworth? Not cool. Welcome to the Official Shit List of Royalscentricity, Farnsworth. You're currently the only person there. Enjoy the penalty box; you have some work cut out for you if you want to make it out of there.
Now the Royals head off to face the formidible lineup of the Texas Rangers, with Alex Gordon taking a seat next to Jose Guillen on the disabled list, and he is requiring arthroscopic surgery to repair some torn cartilage in his right hip. Without a time table on his return, Mitch Maier will make the long trip from Round Rock (where the O-Royals have been playing the Express) to Arlington to join the club. He had been tearing it up at Triple-A thus far (enough to warrant two intentional walks when I saw them Tuesday) and luckily gets eased into things by facing what amounts to a Triple-A pitcher in Matt Harrison Friday night. Moreover, Gordon had looked absolutely horrible at the plate since his return to the lineup, so not having his bat in the lineup right now is not the worst thing in the world, as he probably wasn't healthy to begin with.
It is a little worrisome to head into a stadium where the home team's offense has been firing on all cylinders, but the Royals do have Meche, Greinke, and Davies going this weekend. They're matching up against Matt Harrison, Kevin Millwood, and Vicente Padilla, respectively, and you have to like those matchups, even if you're biting your nails to the quick at the prospect of facing the likes of Hamilton, Kinsler, and Cruz in what has been an atrocious park for pitchers to throw in thus far this season.
If there is solace to be taken from the trip to hitter-friendly confines of the Ballpark at Arlington (fuck whatever corporate sponsor bought the naming rights), it is that Mike Jacobs seems to be swinging the bat well now, and if Buck (the new best friend of Royalscentricity) can maintain his momentum, there are at least two guys who should enjoy hitting in Texas for a weekend.