08/26/07 12:02 AM ET
Royals see silver lining in loss to Tribe
Rookie Buckner solid in relief of stuggling Davies
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
For the Royals, though, the bad outweighed the good in Saturday night's 9-4 loss to the first-place Cleveland Indians as 23,167 fans congregated at Kauffman Stadium.
Buckner was impressive in his Major League debut, which covered five innings of relief. But Davies' fifth start for the Royals was a brief one. He lasted just two innings, jolted for seven runs by the Indians.
"That was probably the worst I've ever felt out there," he said.
Davies faced all nine batters in the first inning, throwing 44 pitches. His evening got off to a bad start when Grady Sizemore's line drive to right field streaked out of the setting sun and past Emil Brown for a double.
A hazy cloud of smoke -- left in the wake of a pregame firworks display -- hung over the area.
"He said smoke got in his eyes," manager Buddy Bell said.
Brown, though, would say only that neither the sun nor the background of seats caused him to miss the ball.
"I just didn't see it all. If it'd come right at me, it'd hit me right in the face," Brown said.
"I just missed it. I could tell you what really happened, but it'd just sound kind of lame, like I was trying to make an excuse or something. I'll just stick with I just didn't see it."
Whatever the reason, things got worse. Before the inning ended, the Indians had five more hits -- including a two-run double by Franklin Gutierrez -- and a 5-0 lead.
In the second, it was boom-boom -- a home run by Sizemore and a home run by Victor Martinez. When the inning was finished, so, too, was Davies. He'd thrown 60 pitches, just 35 for strikes.
Davies got right to the crux of his problem.
"A big league team, if they can eliminate pitches -- curveball, slider, changeup -- and they know I'm not going to throw them for strikes, they don't have to worry about it," he said.
"They knew I had to throw the fastball, and I had to throw it over the plate, and I didn't locate 'em, and they hit 'em."
The Indians also popped Buckner -- for seven hits along with two walks. But he was able to glide through with just one run coming in the fifth when Kenny Lofton doubled and Gutierrez and Casey Blake each singled.
Recently called up from Triple-A Omaha, Buckner got through his five innings with 64 pitches. He retired the first batter he faced, Jhonny Peralta, on a ground ball to shortstop, and that primed his juices.
"I was extremely excited -- first time out there, big crowd, and my family was here, so it was a good time," Buckner said.
The family was his parents, Don and Debbie, sister Christi and grandmother Jayne.
"It was my job to come in and keep the team in the game, and that was my only objective," Buckner said.
He did hold down the Indians, but the Royals couldn't muster much after two fifth-inning runs on singles by Tony Pena, Esteban German, David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek. That came against starter Aaron Laffey.
The Royals didn't score again until the ninth when, after tallying 10 singles (four of them by Brown), DeJesus unloaded a two-out, two-run double against reliever Tom Mastny. Too little, too late.
"We can't seem to get one over the fence, or in the gap," Bell said.
At least Buckner's debut performance put some polish on the defeat.
"It didn't seem like it bothered him much. We knew going in that he was a kid who's got some personality and a good makeup, so I wasn't surprised to see him handle himself pretty well," Bell said.
"He just kept pitching. It looked like he had a nice angle, better than I remember in Spring Training, and he's got nice carry to his fastball and a good breaking ball, so I was impressed."
Not bad at all.
Davies' outing, on the other hand, was a different matter.
"It wasn't very good," Davies said ruefully.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.