The Omaha Royals are struggling. Possibly even drowning. There really is no nice way to put it, no sugary coating that would make the last few weeks sting less. Today’s loss was the team’s 6th straight, and they’ve won just three of their last 15 games.
As much as I enjoyed having Sacramento come and visit, I’m glad they’re gone. That series was a bummer, with very few bright spots.
Result: L 3-4 in 10 innings
Pros: Bruce Chen pitched 7.1 strong innings, striking out six and giving up just one earned run. Tug Hulett homered. Hulett and Irving Falu both had multi-hit games. The Royals forced the RiverCats to use five relievers.
Cons: Not one of those five Sacramento relievers gave up a run.
Result: L 3-1 in 12 innings
Pros: Brandon Duckworth breezed through 7.0 innings, allowing zero runs on three hits and one walk. And he only needed 85 pitches to do so. Roman Colon followed with two shutout innings, including three strikeouts. Travis Metcalf actually took a base on balls. The crowd was awesome.
Cons: The Royals managed just 9 baserunners in the 12-inning affair. That was thanks in large part to Sacramento starter Vin Mazzaro, one of Oakland’s top prospects, taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning.
Result: L 5-2 in 12 innings
Pros: New acquisition Scott Thorman had a three-hit game, missing the cycle by just a triple. Tommy Murphy stole a base. J.R. House had two hits. Lenny DiNardo had a goregous outing, shutting out the Cats for 7.0 innings while giving up just two hits and one walk. He struck out seven.
Cons: The bullpen sucks. I can beat this dead horse a million different ways, and I already have, but that won’t end until someone is brought in to help out. Losing Roman Colon to the big-league roster will not help this problem. Promoting Chris Hayes and Chris Nicoll will.
Result: L 12-4 (mercifully, this one was only 9 innings)
Pros: Matt Wright was pretty decent in his 3rd start back from the DL. Three different Royals – Brayan Pena, Travis Metcalf and Tommy Murphy – homered off of stud starting pitcing prospect Gio Gonzalez. Carlos Rosa recorded three straight Ks in the 8th after giving up a single to start the inning. One of our relievers actually held Sacramento scoreless.
Cons: That reliever isn’t actually a pitcher – the game was so out of hand that Omaha once again had to call on OF/DH Brian Buchanan to pitch. Rosa followed up his awesome inning with an epic meltdown: the Cats loaded the bases on 2 singles and a walk, and Rosa gave up a grand slam to catcher Eric Munson. Two batters later, DH Anthony Recker reached on a ridiculous error by RF Cory Aldridge, and Rosa walked the next two batters to load the bases again. Josh Newman did nothing to stop the bleeding, walking the first two batters he faced before finally retiring the side.
All told, the team used every reliever on the roster, played 7 extra innings of baseball, wasted three very good starts and one fairly decent start, and won zero games. While all that was going on, Dayton Moore was busily re-shuffling the roster. Here’s a rundown of the roster moves:
Acquired: Free agent Scott Thorman. Thorman is another former Brave, from the same Atlanta draft class as Matt Wright. Wonder what other 2000 Braves draftees are out there for us?
To the Majors: Relievers John Bale and Roman Colon, and infielder Tug Hulett. Rany seems pretty down on Colon, but I have hope for him and wish him the best. I agree with Lee Warren that Hulett makes more sense in the Majors than Luis Hernandez does.
To the DL: Mike Aviles and Robinson Tejeda
To Omaha: Infielder Mario Lisson from AA, and Luke Hochevar from the bigs. At first I thought demoting Hochever was stupid at this point, especially since his issues all seem to be confidence-related, but now that we know the demotion was to allow for a 4-man rotation for a while, I like the move a lot. For once, the Royals are doing something outside of the box, and it should work in their favor.
Retired: Top 30 prospect Kyle Martin
Shane Costa update: I asked Costa when he’ll be getting back from his eons-long stay on the DL, and he said it would be about mid-July, and he’s looking forward to playing again.