Notes: Royals need more from starters

Notes: Royals need more from starters

ST. LOUIS -- The Royals have played much better baseball over the past two weeks. The starting rotation, though, isn't the reason for the success.

"I would say [it's a problem]," manager Buddy Bell said.

Over the past 11 games, Royals starters have worked an average of 4 2/3 innings and accumulated a 7.39 ERA. Opponents have hit Royals pitching hard, batting .340.

Subtract Mark Redman's seven shutout innings last Sunday -- the only quality start in those 11 games -- and those numbers are much worse, escalating to an 8.54 ERA and a .355 average.

Bell isn't overly concerned.

"They are going to come back around," he said.

Even Redman, the Royals' best starter recently, pitched poorly Saturday night against the Cardinals. The left-hander, 5-0 in June, shut out the Cardinals on 35 pitches in the first three innings before allowing five runs in the next two frames.

"It's a tough team," Redman said after his start.

The Royals aren't likely to make a move in the coming days.

"I don't know," Bell said. "We are just trying to get through today."

Rookie Bobby Keppel, ineffective in his last couple starts, was sent back down to Triple-A Omaha before the start of the I-70 Series on Friday night.

Luke Hudson, Saturday's winning pitcher, was recalled to take Keppel's spot. Jimmy Gobble, one of the Royals' best pitchers this season, was moved into the rotation and will start Tuesday against the Twins.

Grudzielanek breaks team record:: Mark Grudzielanek owns the club record for consecutive errorless games by a second baseman after registering his 71st straight game without a miscue Saturday night against the Cardinals.

He eclipsed the record set by Royals Hall of Famer Frank White in the 1987 and 1988 seasons.

"The errorless games ... I am not [big on the idea that] 'This guy doesn't have that many errors, so he is playing good'", Bell said. "Some guys don't make errors because they don't get to anything. Grud, on the other hand, is not that way. He gets to everything that he is pretty much supposed to and makes the play."

Grudzielanek, a 13-year veteran, also ranks in the top five among American League second baseman in nearly every defensive statistic, including second in putouts (208), double plays (52), and third in zone rating (.873).

Bell said Grudzielanek, a 13-year veteran, is one of the game's top second baseman.

"He has good hands, good range and turns the double play better than anyone in baseball," the manager said. "We might need a double play and he'll get it down for you. That's probably his biggest asset."

The second baseman, signed as a free agent after playing last year for the Cardinals, has also provided plenty of offense at the top of the lineup, hitting .284 entering Sunday's action.

"I think Grud has been our most consistent player both defensively and offensively," Bell said. "He is just a solid baseball player who does a lot of good things well for you. What he does on the field makes it that much more impressive. There are a lot of things that this guy does well for us."

Teahen impresses: After a slow start to 2006, Mark Teahen has turned his season around. On May 5, the 24-year-old third baseman, carrying a .154 batting average, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha.

After a short stay, Teahen returned to the big leagues. Since June 4, he is ripping opposing pitching, hitting .349 (29-for-83), including two homers and five RBIs in the last two nights.

"I have been more comfortable," Teahen said. "I was just trying to do my part instead of carry the team like I was trying to do earlier this season."

Teahen hasn't tweaked anything in his swing, but did say he is staying back on the ball more in recent weeks. Bell said Teahen is more relaxed on the field.

"He just slowed down a bit," Bell said. "He's a talented kid."

Odds and ends: Tony Graffanino started Sunday at shortstop, earning his first start in the three-game set. ... David DeJesus is batting .339 (40-for-118) since returning from the DL on May 25. ... The Royals are 10-7 in Interleague Play and 14-14 in their last 28 games.

Coming up: The Royals travel to Minnesota for a three-game series starting Monday night. Scott Elarton (3-9, 5.13 ERA) faces Twins ace Johan Santana (9-4, 2.59 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. CT.

Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.