Thursday, June 28, 2007

California sucks. Go Royals!

Well East coast girls are hip,
I really dig those styles they wear.
And the southern girls with the way they talk,
They knock me out when I'm down there.

The Midwest farmers' daughters really make you feel alright.
And the northern girls with the way they kiss,
They keep their boyfriends warm at night.

I wish they all could be California,
I wish they all could be California,
I wish they all could be California girls...

Ahem. Those Californian skanks really took one on the nose, didn't they?

Let's do a retroactive poll: who thought, before the recent series, that our stalwart Royals full of Midwestern humility and virtue would emerge out of Orange County -- the place where ethics goes to die -- with a sweep? The Angels, if you need reminding, are the best team in baseball (they were tied with the Red Sox for the best record three games ago, and since the Sox also dropped three straight, the Angels still hold that "best team in baseball" label). And the Royals... well, they're streaking.

Four in a row for the first time since July 4-7 of last year and assurance of a winning month for the first time since 2003. That's right, it says so here. The 1-0 shutout was the first of its kind since May 4 last year, and, get this, the Angels have lost five straight to KC. Makes you wonder why Buddy Bell was so eager to get out of Dodge:

"Hit and get out of here," Bell said. "We played about as well as we could the last three days and we caught them at a time where they weren't playing so good. I would prefer not to have to play these guys a whole lot. They're just a little bit ahead of us experience-wise."

Ah, striking baseball's bell of karmic balance. It's delicate and tenuous, as one man's good day is always another man's bad, and it just as easily could be the other way around. Consider: yesterday, the Angels lost three runners on the base path -- two caught stealing and another picked off second -- and grounded into two double plays. Somehow they managed 10 hits off Jorge De La Rosa -- whose name, pronounced dialectically by FSN West's fine play-by-play announcer, is deh'a-rRrOsa -- but couldn't push across a single run.

The Royals, on the other hand, scored thusly in the 3rd:
  • Joey Gathright gets on with a bunt, this after Tony Pena Jr. just bunted out.
  • Steals second.
  • David DeJesus walks, and Esteban German flies out to right, advancing Gathright. (Speed, baby!)
  • Two-out bloop RBI single for Mark Teahen.

That's it. Five hits, one run. Then the bullpen, which has been -- how should we say this... -- masterful lately comes in and shuts it down. David Riske, Joakim Soria and Octavio Dotel each put in an inning of no-run, no-hit ball.

Now, Riske, having worked out of an inherited two-on, no-out jam in the 7th, would have been the star of the day on almost any other day. But somehow, his performance got eclipsed by the two who went after him.

From Soria's first pitch in the 8th to the third out, a harmless fly ball to Emil Brown, just 197 seconds (3:17) passed. If every inning was played at that pace -- and one factors in 90 seconds for commercial breaks -- the game would be over in an hour and 25 minutes.

Dotel, in an effort to beat that time -- maybe they had a bet going -- sent down the Angels in the 9th in just three minutes and 40 seconds. A huge strikeout of Vladimir Guerrero pretty much set the tone: a nasty breaking ball that dropped through the zone and managed to avoid Vlad's big bad bat. Howie Kendrick was the final out: a grounder handled by Alex Gordon.

Royals sweep. Boos emanate from the displeased (and large) crowd. Rejoice around the Midwest, where true American heroes live. California can keep their soy and white peaches.

(Actually, a soy white peach sounds kind of good...)

POSTSCRIPT: In my search for Barbie images, I found this relevant-to-KC blog post. "Olathe Barbie -- This Barbie now comes with a stroller, infant doll and Bible. Optional accessories include a G.E.D. and bus pass on the Jo." Haha, so true.