It'll be interesting to see how the Tigers play once they get back on the road. Yes, it's an excuse - and this team is too good for that now - but I really do think the short weekend homestand sandwiched between big road trips was a situation that couldn't help but create a letdown. The guys are home after being away for so long, but almost before they can take a breath, they have to take off again.
Playing a last-place team probably contributed to the malaise. But the biggest problem, of course, is that the Royals didn't play like a last-place team. Depending on how the White Sox fare against the Tigers for the next five games, Kansas City could have fourth place to itself by the end of this coming week. Four against the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium might mess with that equation, however.
Brian Bannister made a formidable lineup look pedestrian today, giving up only one run on four hits over seven innings. Perhaps more impressive than that was the middle of the Tigers' batting order notching only one hit.
How about getting Billy Butler the hell out of town? I know Mark Grudzielanek hit 9-for-15 this weekend, but Butler was the guy who seemed to come up with a big hit most every time he was at the plate. And he got the Royals' scoring started today with his chug-along triple to left-center field. I'm not sure where exactly Curtis Granderson was playing Butler on that hit, but I was able to go upstairs, fix a turkey sandwich, pour a glass of water, and come back downstairs by the time he made it to third base. And I'm not a fast guy.
Unless Butler is somehow traded to the White Sox or Angels this week, I'm pretty comfortable with Detroit's chances against those teams. And I'm already dreading the next time the Tigers' pitching staff has to face him.
The C-Mo Revival Continues
It will also be interesting to see how Craig Monroe hits against a team other than the Kansas City Royals. After another home run today, I'll have to put that "C-Mendo" nickname away for a while. It was only two games, but it sure looked like Kansas City pitching was the tonic for whatever was ailing C-Mo. But he could stay hot for at least one more game, as the White Sox are starting Mark Buehrle tomorrow, and Monroe hits him pretty well (.407/.448/.704).
Did He Blow His Audition?
Octavio Dotel hadn't pitched since last Wednesday against Boston, so he probably needed the work. But since the ninth inning wasn't a save situation for Dotel, you have to wonder if the Royals may have been showcasing him for the Tigers. If so, I'm not sure Dave Dombrowski was overly impressed.
Dotel led off the ninth by walking Gary Sheffield, giving up a double to Magglio Ordonez (which drove in Sheffield), and walking Carlos Guillen to allow the tying run to come to the plate. He settled down to retire the next three batters, and ended the game by striking out Craig Monroe and Pudge Rodriguez, but definitely flirted with a meltdown.
You think Dayton Moore went up to Dombrowski after the game and reminded him that Dotel hadn't given up an earned run in his five previous appearances before today?