Royals must settle for split with Angels

Royals must settle for split with Angels

KANSAS CITY -- The eminently bizarre appeared before the Royals as they traveled down the dirt and grass road Sunday afternoon.

A novelty honorary first-pitch thrower, a scoring change that broke up a no-hitter and a batters' obstruction call were all there.

So, too, was Angels rookie right-hander Jered Weaver. And there was little peculiar about him.

The Royals lost, 3-1, as Weaver used a twirling, misleading delivery to stump them over 6 2/3 innings. Weaver has now won his first seven Major League starts. Only Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers, who won his first eight starts as a rookie in 1981, has had a better career-opening run.

"He's got good stuff and he's got quite a bit of deception as well," Royals manager Buddy Bell said of Weaver. "That's probably his biggest asset with his ability to make pitches when he has to."

It was the second time this season that the Royals were unable to solve Weaver. He also defeated them on June 13 in Anaheim, with the pitching matchups the same both times.

Brandon Duckworth kept the Royals in the game Sunday, allowing three runs and five hits in five innings. Most balls hit against him weren't struck very hard -- the most costly being Robb Quinlan's two-run single that bounced through the right side in the fourth.

Walking four batters, though, took its toll.

"Today the big thing was I didn't have command of the strike zone like I've had in pretty much most of my other starts," Duckworth said. "You work yourself into a hole and you've just got to get out of it. I was just disappointed that I had real good stuff today and it wasn't able to be used because I was behind in counts."

Duckworth fell behind 1-0 in the second on an Adam Kennedy RBI single. He watched in the bottom half as his teammates tried to tie the game. Their effort fell short when Angel Berroa grounded out to Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera, seemingly stranding Emil Brown in scoring position. Instead of ending the inning conventionally, however, Cabrera spiced things up.

Brown stood at second before the play began and ran to third on contact. Thinking that Cabrera would try to throw Berroa out at first base, he rounded the bag and started for home. Third-base coach Luis Silverio had waved him in.

"I'm sure what happened, a lot of times you try to steal a run when the ball is thrown to first when the guy is safe or the ball is in the dirt or whatever," Bell said.

Cabrera had something else in mind.

He faked a throw to first before tossing the ball to catcher Mike Napoli, who tagged Brown out. Cabrera also played a role in retiring Brown on a backdoor play at third in the series opener Thursday.

Recounting Sunday's play, Cabrera said: "I saw the coach send him home too early. I thought I didn't have a chance at first base. I remembered it was [Brown]. He always runs with his head down."

Initially called a fielder's choice, the ruling stayed unresolved in the scorebooks after the inning ended. The issue came down to how many bases Brown was trying to advance.

Weaver induced a popup from Shane Costa to end the fourth, keeping his no-hitter intact. He lost it moments later, sitting on the bench.

The official scoring from the earlier play was changed to credit Berroa with an infield single.

The Royals had two no-doubt hits as they rallied for a run in the sixth. Mark Teahen drove home Doug Mientkiewicz, who had earlier lined a single to right, with a double.

Weaver pitched into the seventh but left after hitting John Buck with a pitch with two out. No longer did the Royals have to keep guessing at his delivery, waiting, sometimes too late, after he had effectively hidden the ball.

"Sometimes it's tough to pick up and you've got to see him a few times and try to figure him out," Costa said. "He makes his pitches, uses his slider, works both sides of the plate. He gets the job done."

Kansas City wasn't able to capitalize in Weaver's absence. Relievers J.C. Romero, Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez allowed one hit over the final 2 1/3 innings.

Rodriguez shut down the Royals in the ninth to earn the save. After winning the opening two games of the series with a strong offense, the Royals' bats were subdued in the last two as they settled for a split.

Mickey Carroll, 87, the last surviving Munchkin from the 1939 epic film "The Wizard of Oz," threw one of several honorary first pitches before the game. Standing about the measure of his height (4-foot-7) in front of the pitching rubber, the strength of his throw impressed the crowd of 17,496.

Yearning yet again for the public eye, the godson of the late storied mobster Al Capone probably panned for the audience's attention for too long. When he left the field, the stage was set for a much taller right-hander: the 6-foot-7 Weaver.

Los Angeles comes to Kansas City for two games in late September to round out the season series. It's too early to project whether Weaver will pitch then.

"He's going to lose a game one of these days," Bell said. "If he can stay healthy I think he's going to be very good."

Kevin Druley is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.