|04-03-2003, 02:08 AM|
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Kaegel: Staff pitches in for Royals win
Staff pitches in for Royals win
By DICK KAEGEL
The Kansas City Star
Posted on Thu, Apr. 03, 2003
Mike MacDougal was so engrossed in watching the game-ending double play that he didn't know White Sox bludgeonist Frank Thomas had smashed his bat on the sinking fastball.
"I didn't even notice," said MacDougal, the Royals' closer. "I turned and watched (Carlos) Febles make a great double play."
And then it was over, Angel Berroa to Febles to Mike Sweeney, and the Royals were 2-0 on Wednesday for the first time since the double plays were going from Fred Patek to Frank White to John Wathan in 1979.
MacDougal, who had frozen Thomas with a slider in the ninth inning of the season opener, has two saves in two chances. What the deuce -- MacDougal really seems to have Thomas' number.
"I don't know about that," MacDougal said with his Huckleberry grin, "but it's definitely nice."
MacDougal, after walking D'Angelo Jimenez opening the ninth, grappled with Tony Graffanino, who wanted to drop a sacrifice bunt. The count was 2-0 when pitching coach John Cumberland strolled to the mound.
"Hey, it's a nice day," Cumberland said amiably. "If you throw the ball over the plate here, these guys have no chance to hit you. Just take your time, take a deep breath, stay within yourself and let it happen for you."
White Sox manager Jerry Manuel took the bunt sign off for MacDougal's 3-2 pitch but Graffanino tried anyway. The bunt ticked foul and Graffanino was out.
Manuel had no quarrel with Graffanino's bunt attempt.
"Sometimes a player will feel he's more capable of doing that than swinging the bat," Manuel said.
Then came Thomas' double-play grounder and a 5-4 Kansas City win.
Royals right-hander D.J. Carrasco, in his major-league debut, bailed out Albie Lopez in the eighth. Two out, one on, a one-run lead and pinch hitter Brian Daubach up.
Carrasco's debut lasted one pitch. He threw a fastball low and away and Daubach flied out to left.
"I was hoping I could make it a little more memorable for him," Daubach said.
Carrasco, on the roster as a Rule 5 pick, was "real antsy" in the bullpen.
"But once I get the ball in my hands, I don't get nervous," he said.
Manager Tony Pena presented Carrasco with the dugout lineup card as a memento.
Lopez, in his first Royals game, gave up five hits and two runs in 12/3 innings but wasn't exactly massaged mercilessly. Thomas fisted a two-out RBI single in the seventh and pinch hitter Armando Rijos did likewise in the eighth.
"It was that they just fell in on me today," Lopez said.
"The best ball hit was the one that got in the sun on (right fielder Michael) Tucker. The sun was bad out there."
Actually, Tucker said it wasn't the sun. He just froze on Joe Crede's liner and it got over his head for a double. Center fielder Rontrez Johnson yelled "Back!"
But, as Tucker said, "When you hear somebody yell, `Back!,' it's too late."
Lopez wound up with the victory instead of Jeremy Affeldt, still looking for his first career win in a starting role. Affeldt was lifted in the sixth when Jason Grimsley came in and struck out Crede; Lopez was in the game when Joe Randa's homer broke a 3-3 tie.
But Affeldt was excited over the team's 2-0 start, although he was cautious not to get too carried away.
"We're not going to get out of our shoes, we're not going to get out of our briefs," he said, "but we've got the good atmosphere -- that's what everybody is excited about.... We're having a good time -- together."