Kansas City lost their first game of the 2012 regular season to the Angels by a 5-0 score on Friday evening, and with that it is time for some knee jerk reactions from the opening game.
First off, hats off to the great performance by the crafty veteran Bruce Chen. Seemingly people are always wanting to write him off, but Chen not only has been a likable personality during his time with Kansas City, but he has become one of their more dependable starting pitchers for the most part.
Chen was limited to just six innings, and thew just 75 pitches, 54 of them for strikes. He gave up just three hits while striking out four and not issuing a walk.
Personally I would have liked to have seen manager Ned Yost send Chen out for the seventh inning, but I understand being his first start you likely want to limit their pitch count. At first it looked like the move was going to pan out as Aaron Crow stuck out the side in the seventh, but things quickly went south in the eighth inning in which Los Angeles scored all five of their runs.
Another positive I took from the game was the overall play by the defense. We already got a good glimpse of how improved the play should be in centerfield with Lorenzo Cain being able to cover much more ground than the departed Melky Cabrera.
And of course Alcides Escobar was very solid at shortstop, though the Angels were able to score on a short hopper with the bases loaded to short. However it looked as if Mike Moustakas made a hard charge towards Escobar that fouled up what would have already been a tough play for Escobar to make. It happens.
Now looking at the negatives, I must say I was concerned with the handling behind the plate of Brayan Pena. He dropped too many balls, including third strikes. The Royals certainly are in a conundrum while waiting for Salvador Perez to heal. Humberto Quintero is an excellent defensive catcher, but is a void with the bat. Though Pena isn't great at the plate, he is a better hitter than Quintero, but also less with the glove.
Also, the Royals were overly eager in swinging freely, even compared to Kansas City teams of the past. Jeff Francoeur saw a total of two pitches in his first two at-bats, which produced two immediate outs. At least you can't do any worse than that. It wasn't just Frenchy though, it was everyone.
A quick turnaround for the Royals as they play an afternoon game tomorrow against the Angels, which will be another national broadcast for the team. Luke Hochevar faces Dan Haren tomorrow in a 3:05 CST game.
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