In a season full of promise, the lowest point of the 2011 season for the Kansas City Royals may have been a 19-1 loss on May 16th to the Cleveland Indians. Years from now it will likely be referred to as the Vin Mazzaro game, in which he gave up 14 runs in 2.1 innings. For that reason alone, it made many Royals fans hold a grudge towards Cleveland for the remainder of the year.
Like the Royals, Cleveland features a predominately young lineup. The Indians starting offensive roster for the majority of the season featured four starters 26 or younger this past season. That is not counting the likes of young players such as Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, and Jason Donald. Chisenhall and Kipnis were ranked 25th and 54th respectively by Baseball America in their top 100 prospect rankings prior to the season. All three would be solid contributors at the major league level by years end.
On the mound the Indians were just as young, featuring a starting rotation with the oldest pitcher being 27. Cleveland would send promising young pitchers Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, along with two other prospects to the Colorado Rockies for 27-year old Ubaldo Jimenez near the trade deadline.
While the Royals may have more heralded prospects, the Indians find themselves in a very similar situation as Kansas City and for that fact alone the Indians and Royals should develop an interesting rivalry over the next few years as both teams continue to rise up the American League Central Division standings.
Coupled with the Minnesota Twins in a rebuilding mode, and the aging Chicago White Sox having a first time manager in Robin Ventura, now is the time for Kansas City and Cleveland to begin challenging the Detroit Tigers.
Kansas City would go just 5-13 against the Indians this past season, but as the Royals team progresses here is to hoping the series becomes more in the Royals' favor in 2012 and beyond. It should, and Kansas City will likely have found a new rival on the diamond as well.