Faced with the tall task of taking on reigning American League Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez, the Kansas City Royals didn't flinch, nor back down at all, defeating the Seattle Mariners 7-0, behind solid pitching, even better defense, and all-around determination.
Sean O'Sullivan, making his first start of the season for the Royals, tossed five innings, giving up five hits and striking out four. He walked two. The burly righty wasn't perfect on the day, but did a good job of getting himself out of situations and was able to keep the ball down when Kansas City needed him to come through. For being the fifth starter on the team and facing arguably the best pitcher in baseball, you certainly have to smile with both his and the Kansas City effort today.
Hernandez meanwhile was't terrible, but the Royals just kept chipping away and finding key hits. King Felix finished the day throwing five innings and giving up five runs (though just two were earned) on six hits. He also walked two and struck out six.
Alex Gordon lead the way for the offense with three hits and two RBI. He now leads the American League with 22 total hits on the season, as both he and Billy Butler are batting .373 on the season.
With a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth the Royals did the majority of their damage scoring three runs that paved the way to a 5-0 lead and eventually knocking Hernandez from the game. After Alcides Escobar reached via a Chone Figgins error on a grounder, Chris Getz singled with two outs to put runners at first and third. Gordon cleared the bases with a double, and then came around to score on a Butler single in what seemed at the time to be the series of events that would shape the game.
Rookies Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffress, and Aaron Crow pitched four innings of just two hit baseball, keeping the first Kansas City shutout of 2010 in order.
With the victory over Seattle today and standing atop the American League Central Division sporting a 10-4 record on the young season it has become harder to think of new superlatives to describe this team and the ride they are on. It sure has been fun and refreshing to watch and Kansas City, now on a four game winning streak, will be looking for a four game sweep tomorrow afternoon with Jeff Francis facing Mariners rookie Michael Pineda. The club now has two four-game win streaks this season, where last season their longest win streak was just three games all year.
Words can not describe some of the defensive plays made this year, but particularly by Escobar at shortstop. His glove has continually kept Kansas City in games this year and instead of finding ways to lose, which often happened in the past, this edition of the Royals are finding ways to keep themselves in games and eventually win.
With what looks to be a good pitching matchup tomorrow at Kauffman (and unfortunately no television) and then a suddenly important series following that at home against Cleveland, hopefully fans will realize what is blossoming before their eyes in Kansas City and get out to the ballpark.