Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Game 3 of 4
This was a truly brutal opening series for the Royals (and the Angels as well), but at first whiff, the rest of the world certainly didn’t think so. The “rest of the world” was drinking the kool-aid on the Royals, “great farm system, wait till 2012, will stink this year, blah blah blah…” Well I wasn’t, as a matter of fact I’ve been bleating like a wounded goat about how much this team is going to shock everyone, even some diehard Royals fans are having trouble embracing my level of enthusiasm.
So here we are, 3rd game of a 4-game matchup, and the Royals so far have taken 1 of the 2 games. Which was one more game than anyone had hoped for…
But for me, the real story here was Aaron Crow.
Crow made a stellar debut in the Royals’ home opener on 3/31…it was a bittersweet entry as the Royals dropped this game…but the internets were all abuzz about Aaron Crow.
There were definitely other stars in this game; Billy Butler, Jeff Francoeur, and HOLY COW – Chris Getz among them…but I just feel like circling Aaron Crow for this post, so bear with me.
To set up Crow’s entry in the 7th inning: Kanekoa Texeira entered in the 6th to relieve Kyle Davies, who had allowed 4 Angels to get on base before being lifted. Starting the 7th, Texeira allowed 3 more on base after retiring his first batter. Texeira gets the hook (with 3 inherited runners on base, mind you!) and Crow gets the call. Cool as a cucumber, 3 men on only 1 out…Angels up by one.
Torii Hunter strikes out swinging on 3 pitches, the deathblow being a blistering 4-seam fastball at 95mph that followed two 86-88mph sliders.
Vernon Wells looks at a 96mph 4-seamer for a strike, then another for a ball. Thinking he’s getting the fastball again, here comes an 87mph slider…a ha!...swingandamiss!! Crow’s next pitch is an 88mph slider (again); Wells makes contact but grounds into a forceout to short to end the inning.
Crow pitches the entire 8th, the first two batters see 4 93-94mph fastballs between them, and they both hit doubles off of them. Crow gets a nod from Cabrera-Getz-Treanor as lead runner Alberto Callaspo is thrown out at home; Erick Aybar stays at 2nd and will be stuck there.
Crow is still crafty; OK, nothing but 4-seamers so far, so how about giving Bobby Wilson some more? Bobby fouls 2 of 3 away; Crow changes back to the 87mph slider and Bobby swings so hard his arms nearly fly out of their sockets. Crow decides to mix the 4-seamer and slider for Peter Bourjos, ultimately missing on a 95mph 4-seamer to walk Bourjos. Now there are 2 on, 2 out and here comes Maicer Izturis, who knocked a single to short in his last at-bat.
With the same 4-seam fastball, on one pitch, Crow gets Izturis to groundout to second.
Now, in the bottom of the 8th, the boys helped back Crow up with 2 runs scored against Kevin Jepsen; Soria got the ball after that and the Royals win their 2nd game of the series…and Aaron Crow gets his first MLB win.
Nick Scott hasn’t let up on the claim by “the rest of the world” about the Royals’ rotation being the “worst rotation ever”…and it’s good that he doesn’t. The rotation is a little shaky (see: Chicago Cubs) but hey, they are really darn good and when they aren’t…the bullpen has been pretty good at helping out their case, regardless of the situation. I think Jeff Francis is AWESOME…but I think Aaron Crow is FANTASTIC.
Royals fans, please: DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID…this is going to be a GREAT season!!!