Following one of the more eventful offseasons in team history, the Kansas City Royals set out to make a statement to kick off the 2013 season. Instead, Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox temporarily quelled that enthusiasm with a 1-0 win at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday afternoon.
Though failing to get much going on offense—only collecting seven hits against four White Sox pitchers—the Royals should not hang their heads just yet.
While moral victories do not show up in the standings, a road loss to an up-and-coming ace of a team that is widely seen on equal footing as Kansas City certainly isn't the end of the world. In fact, the Royals should see this as an opportunity to quickly adjust in advance of game two on Wednesday.
This team's primary objective over the winter was to upgrade its starting rotation, headlined by the acquisition of James Shields. Making only one mistake—giving up a home run to White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers in the fifth inning—the Royals could not have expected much more out of their ace in the season opener.
Shields ended up tossing six innings, while striking out six batters, walking none and allowing eight hits—proving why Kansas City traded for him in the first place.
It is this type of performance—coupled with the rest of the improved rotation—that should keep the Royals from extended stretches of futility over the long season. Instead, this team could start to endure more winning spurts because of the consistency from its pitching staff.
The Royals' recent struggles can be explained by an inability to match up on an every-game basis with their opponents' starting pitching. Monday's performance by Shields, though in a loss, is a sign that those issues won't be as apparent in 2013.
Ervin Santana, who was brought in via trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, will be up next for the Royals. Going toe-to-toe with Jake Peavy could go a long way toward how this season plays out.
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