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DaWolf
04-10-2003, 11:09 PM
Can we keep the trend going?

Royals make it seven straight with 4-2 victory over Tigers
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star

DETROIT - Viewed historically, the Royals' unbeaten record is starting to pass beyond the realm of fluke occurrences.

Thursday's 4-2 victory over Detroit's winless Tigers boosted the Royals to 7-0. That's a magic number of sorts. Because every 7-0 team in baseball's divisional era, which began in 1969, went on to finish with a winning record.

"Is that right?" asked manager Tony Pena, beaming his best we-believe smile.

Yep, nine for nine through last season. And five of those nine teams went on to make the playoffs. In short, history says bad teams don't start off with seven straight Ws.

Right now, the Royals love history.

Victory No. 7 was remarkable in itself. The Royals committed four errors, managed just seven hits and had to readjust their lineup and bullpen because of a flu virus rampaging through their traveling party.

They also had to deal with Detroit lefty Mike Maroth, whose stuff was as good as any opposing starter to date.

"Maroth was pitching very well," outfielder Raul Ibanez confirmed, "but I sensed that with the way we're going right now, that if we stayed close, we would be able to do something. And fortunately, we were able to do it."

The Royals also were fortunate to be trailing just 1-0 after two defensive misplays in the first inning. Starter Miguel Asencio limited the damage to one unearned run by stranding three runners.

"I just kept thinking, `Hold them right here,' " Pena said. "That first inning was the key. We stayed away from the big inning, and that made the difference."

Maroth, 0-3, allowed just one hit as he nursed that 1-0 lead into the sixth. He was so dominant that even he began thinking, "this was going to be the day" that Detroit got its first victory.

But the Royals began stirring in the sixth when Joe Randa and Mike Sweeney produced one-out singles. Ibanez then ripped a single that caromed off the glove of first baseman Carlos Pena.

The ball rolled into the outfield, allowing Randa to score and Sweeney to reach third. Maroth then bounced a wild pitch past catcher Brandon Inge. Sweeney scored, and the Royals led 2-1.

Asencio, 1-0, departed before the Tigers came to bat in the sixth, weighed down by 106 pitches through five innings.

"I had to make a lot of pitches in the first inning," he said. "But they could not hit the ball out of the infield. I'm telling you, we believed we were going to win that game."

The Tigers had trouble just getting a bat on the ball in three innings against rookie D.J. Carrasco, who struck out six straight at one point.

Still, the Royals led just 2-1 when Tigers manager Alan Trammell summoned reliever Jamie Walker to get a lefty-lefty matchup against Ibanez with one out in the eighth and Randa on first.

Ibanez worked the count to 2-1, then tomahawked a high fly that hugged the right-field line for a two-run homer.

Things like this keep happening -- to the Royals and the Tigers, now 0-8. Noted Trammell, "I don't know what more to say."

The 4-1 lead allowed closer Mike MacDougal to pitch around another unearned run in the ninth for his fifth save.

"Maroth was awesome," Sweeney noted. "That's the best we've seen him. We made four errors, and a lot of guys are sick. But I guess when a team is hot, you just find a way to win.

"We got a home run from Raul, and D.J. Carrasco came in and slammed the door. It's a lot of fun right now."

And, historically speaking, no longer a fluke.


http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascitystar/5606420.htm

Oxford
04-11-2003, 08:55 AM
Seven and oh.....? That is great news but I have one better, ALL divisional opponents. What better way to start the year than to beat the daylights out of your divisional rivals. The Royals may be no better than a .500 team, but all they have to do is be one game better than the rest of their division.

keg in kc
04-11-2003, 09:25 AM
There's two sides to this coin, unfortunately. That is to say, there's a first time for everything. Bad records can fall just as easily as good ones.

I'm optimistic, but we're only 7 games in, so my optimism is cautious at best. I'm sticking by my 75 win prediction until I see how they play through mid-may. We're hitting a slightly tougher stretch in the schedule now, with road series against Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto, Boston and Minnesota (some home games mixed in too of course). We return to the K on May 16th after a 4-game stand at the Metrodome. That'll mark the 40th game of the season. If we're .500 or below at that point, then we're not for real, and the start has been a fluke. If, on the other hand, we're sitting at something like 24-15 then I'd say the sky's the limit for these guys.

We still have the Beltran situation to worry about, too...