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Royal Blues


July 10, 2010 2:01 AM

Kila Ka'aihue doesn't think he's the best hitter EVAR...

Ka'aihue batting 01.JPG...and other stuff from tonight's double-header.

For some reason I was grumpy when I got to work today. I pretty much wanted to punch every face I came across for the first hour or so I was there. Don't ask why - it was one of those dumb days where all the petty stupid stuff piles up into one big heap of frowns.

I hope nobody noticed, though. O-Royals fans pay money (though not THAT much) to get into the ballpark, and the last thing any of them (you?) need is for some promotions chick to be frowning all night. But at some point tonight it hit me: I have no right to ever - EVER - be grumpy at this job.

What was it that finally got to me? Maybe it was the little girl with the red, white and blue hair bow and a hot dog in her hand singing along to the National Anthem even though no one else in her row was singing. Or perhaps it was the two ladies I met who are best friends now because their husbands happened to get assigned to coach the same Little League team four years ago. Or the little boy who got to announce an inning over the PA, blasting through his shaky nerves to confidently bellow out the name of his favorite Royals player.

None of that stuff happened on the field, but that's baseball, you know? The players and the fans and the perfect summer weather and the vendors and everyone else - it all comes together in the most spectacular way possible. Some combination of all those things made my bad mood melt away throughout the Royals double-header - a split against Albuquerque - but I think most of the happy moments came from the fans.

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A dugout story about Kila Ka'aihue

I've never been sure how hard I should try to "convert" casual fans into actual O-Royals devotees, because really, fans should be allowed to enjoy the ballpark in whatever way they choose. But I do always like to ask little kids one question: Do you have a favorite player?

Predictably, a lot of young'uns around here adore Alex Gordon. A few really love Irving Falu, probably because of a high five or an autograph he gave them, and a few always pick whoever's hitting home runs that week. (Scott Thorman has a lot of little fans this weekend, for example.)

But if a kid doesn't have a favorite player yet, I shamelessly steer them toward MY favorite: Ka'aihue, of course. Before the first game today, a four-year-old kid was brought on to the field to bring the lineup card to home plate with manager Mike Jerschele. Before Jirsch was ready, I was chatting with the kid while we waited next to the dugout. Kila was a few feet away, prepping his bats for the game ahead. And embarrassingly enough, he heard me say to the tiny child: "And do you know who THAT is?"

The kid solemnly shook  his head, no. I told him, "He could be your favorite player. He's one of the best hitters you'll ever see here." Kila whipped his head toward me and smiled - I think it was a smile, anyway - and shook his head violently. I'm not sure who he'd suggest is better, though. Hopefully the little kid was paying attention when Kila, that bastion of modesty, blasted a 2-run homer in the 4th inning.

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Nuts 'n' bolts: The actual games
The Royals split the twinbill with the Isotopes, but the win pushed Omaha into a tie for first place - they had been a game and a half back from the Memphis Redbirds, who've lost two straight.

GAME ONE
Philip Humber gave up two dingers that put the Isotopes out to a lead they never surrendered. Disco Hayes had a rough sixth inning that added two more to 'Querque's total. Hayes rebounded with a gorgeous 8-pitch 7th inning, but the Royals were in a hole.

Omaha scored a token run in the bottom of the 7th (the final inning because this was a DH), but nothing came from it other than a later start to the 2nd game.

Alex Gordon doubled, Irving Falu tripled, and Kila Ka'aihue homered in the game. Ed Lucas drew the Royals' only walk.

GAME TWO:
Charlie Haeger's knuckleball fooled some Omaha hitters - he struck out Irving Falu twice, which you know if you follow Falu is a big deal. He's tough to strike out. But other Royals, and some shoddy Isotope defense and catching, sullied Haeger's night and led to three Omaha runs against him. Jai Miller homered off Ramon Troncoso to lead off the 6th, which gave the Royals a one-run lead that they would hold to the end.

Federico Casteneda was decent enough on the mound, but the real story, somehow, was Matt Herges, who pitched 2.2 fantastic innings to slam the door on Albuquerque.

POSTGAME:
Fireworks! Awesome!   

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