Royals Fall to Braves by Way of the Solo Home Run

Jeremy SickelContributor IIIApril 17, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 16: Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals pitches in the first inning of the game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on April 16, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. All uniformed team members are wearing jersey number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The Kansas City Royals are the latest victim of the hottest team in baseball, falling 6-3 to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night at Turner Field.

The Braves have now won 10 straight games and sit at an MLB-best 12-1 to kick off the 2013 season.

Guthrie lasted seven innings for Kansas City, giving up only two earned runs while striking out six and walking just one. That is all you can ask for out of your starting pitcher, and precisely the type of results the Royals sought following an active offseason to upgrade their rotation.

After Tuesday's loss, Royals starting pitchers now have a 3.57 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 73 strikeouts in 83.1 innings pitched.

While the improvement and dependability of their rotation is certainly noticeable, Kansas City pitchers have allowed 18 home runs on the season (13 by starting pitchers), including five solo shots Tuesday night against the Braves.

Third baseman Juan Francisco struck twice (once in the second inning and once in the seventh inning), while Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla each went yard in the eighth inning—ultimately breaking the game open for Atlanta to extend its winning streak.

The Royals added a solo home run of their own, as Chris Getz ended his personal powerless stretch of 954 at-bats (then with the Chicago White Sox) with a dinger in the third inning. The last ball the second baseman hit over the wall was ironically against Guthrie, who was pitching for the Baltimore Orioles at the time.

Kansas City generally lacks power (only five home runs on the season), preventing the team from generating the offense required to keep up with some of the heavy hitters on the scoreboard.

This puts added pressure on Royals pitchers to keep games close. Allowing the opposition to run up the score via the home run ball, however, does little to accentuate the other positive things this staff is doing early on in the campaign.

At 7-6, this team is playing a much better brand of baseball than in seasons past. For the Royals to continue at this clip, however, this home run trend must begin to tilt more in their favor.


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