Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Buck HR, Meche quality start not enough in 7-4 loss

John Buck now has four home runs on the season and two in the last week. He's only played 11 games, but he's now batting .389 with a 1.337 OPS, which isn't quite A-Rod or Reyes level but still pretty darn high. At this pace, I don't expect we'll see Jason LaRue very much for the next couple of weeks, especially since he was brought in basically to motivate Buck to seize the job as the everyday catcher. This hot start, I should think, has earned him at least a week's stretch of uninterrupted playing time.

I've always liked Buck's upside, and not just because he was involved in the deal that sent away Carlos Beltran. The guy had a sterling fall last year, batting .321/.341/.568 from the beginning of September, and at 26, he's one of the youngest catchers in the league. Just remember that. And if you need any more reasons, check out Royals Retrospective, a very cool and well-kept blog (though I'm not a big fan of the Windows 3.1-esque layout and design), which has Buck as No. 91 on the "100 Greatest Royals of All-Time" list.

While Buck's two-run home run in the 5th gave KC a 2-0 lead, Gil Meche, who pitched a solid if not dominant game, couldn't hold it, giving up an equalizer to Paul Konerko in the 6th. The Royals went up again in the bottom of the 6th, only to give up the lead again the next half inning. The ups and downs of baseball sometimes upsets my diaphragm (thoracic, just so there's no confusion), like the Mamba at Worlds of Fun. Then Buddy Bell went to the bullpen and the wheels fell off. Four pitchers appeared in the 8th -- including previously ballyhooed lefty Neal Musser -- but only two picked up outs. And those two were charged with three of the White Sox' four runs that inning.

Apparently the Royals' pen has been struggling. This is what I hear through the grapevine, anyway, like here, here, here and here... uh, here too... and I guess this counts... and, oh, here. (Just so you know why I'm not going to comment on this any further.)

POSTSCRIPT: I'm convinced no matter what happens to the Royals this year, Cubs fans still have it worse. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have an over/under bet with a friend on how many games the Royals and Cubs will win this year. I took the over on both the Royals (79) and Cubs (83).) Just read this article from the Tribune: blown four-run lead to the division leaders, post-game shouting match, Piniella chewing out his reliever on the mound, 3-8 home record... UNCLE! Christ, mercy, mercy, mercy. To top it all off, there's this quote from Mark DeRosa: "Like Lou said, everyone just needs to relax and start having fun again." Lou said that? That kind of breaks the irony scale, doesn't it?

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