The Royals finally got their vindication Friday night in Cleveland with a 12-0 beatdown on the Indians. Flashback to May 16, a night that Vin Mazzaro will never forget; a night where the Royals were destroyed by the Indians 19-1, and a giddy Tim Kurkjian from ESPN was left giggling about the record-breaking 14 earned runs given up by a pitcher who had to find his own way back to Omaha. The Indians took the surrender flag and plugged it right into home plate, 19 times.
In a two-game series in May, the Royals were outscored 26-7, and the hopes of hanging in the divisional race left the stadium that night never to return. But this team will not give up, and a team meeting called just before the White Sox series in mid-July seemed to get this young team back on track.
The Royals knocked off Ozzie Guillen’s White Sox two games out of three and sent their manager away with a black eye (the best hit of Moustakas’ professional career). Then two out of three over Tampa Bay, and splitting a four-game series with the best team in the American League in one the most difficult venues in modern sports, Fenway Park.
Which brings us to Friday on a cool and cloudy night in Cleveland where 35,390 fans were eager to see fireworks during and after the game. Instead they saw the Royals in a completely different state of being than where they had left them almost three months ago.
In another one of those classic mismatches, Carlos Carrasco versus Jeff Francis, would showcase the underdog prevailing once again. Francis picked up his fourth win on the season with an eight-inning masterpiece without yielding a single run. The Indians were only able to muster four hits off the lefty. Meanwhile, Carrasco left the game in the fourth inning at the request of home plate umpire, Scott Barry.
After Butler homered in the first and Gordon homered in the second, Carrasco came out in the fourth needing to shut the Royals down. Instead, he found himself with the bases loaded and only one out. Melky Cabrera destroyed a first-pitch fastball into right field for a grand slam. Cabrera took a little extra time enjoying the moment at home plate, prompting Carrasco to go head hunting on the very next pitch to Billy Butler. That was when umpire Scott Barry tossed Carrasco out of the game, but the Royals weren’t done scoring.
Alcides Escobar drove in Jeff Francoeur in the top of the fifth, and Alex Gordon drove in Mike Moustakas and Escobar with a two-out double.
Then the big hit came from Billy Butler in the top of the eighth with a 359 foot shot to right field. This was his second in the game and his sixth homerun in the last ten games. Butler has all of a sudden become best friends with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. The two are almost inseparable, perfecting his swing in the cages, on the tee and with soft toss. Butler is back, and ready to learn. Kevin Seitzer continues to have the Midas touch with every player he touches, turns to gold. In the last seven days, the Royals team average ranks fourth in the majors.
The young Eric Hosmer is taking this team on his wing and establishing himself as the future clubhouse leader they will need him to be. He is in the middle of a ten-game-hitting streak, which in a night where hitting streaks were snapping with great frequency, this could prove to be something special. Seven out of the ten games have been multi-hit games for Hosmer, and he is hitting the ball as hard as he was when he first called up.
With the trade deadline reaching the final hours, only a single trade has been made by G.M. Dayton Moore. Though the pitching staff may only be fool’s gold during their momentary dominance, it becomes clear six out of the eight position players are just as talented as almost any playoff contender can offer. This is the year to hold on to the talented veterans. The days of dealing for prospects are over. It is time to let this team develop into a playoff caliber squad.