The Royals’ 2013 schedule, released Wednesday, includes more divisional games than ever, a pair of successive two-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals in late May and games against every team in the National League East.
Major League Baseball’s new balanced alignment — 15 teams in each league — required major structural changes in scheduling. The most notable feature is the need for interleague play throughout the year.
The change stemmed from shifting the Houston Astros from the National League Central to the American League West, which leaves each league with three five-team divisions.
Each team now plays 19 games against its four divisional opponents; four games against an interleague rival; 16 more interleague games against the five teams from one division — one three-game series against four teams and four games against the fifth.
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The remaining 66 games will be played against non-division teams from their own league — one home and one road series against each team. Season series will be either six or seven games.
For the Royals, that means:
19 games against AL Central rivals Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota.
Two two-game series against the Cardinals as their interleague rival.
One three-game series against four NL East teams (Miami and Washington at home and trips to New York and Philadelphia) and two two-game series against Atlanta. The home series against Atlanta will mark the Braves’ first appearance in Kansas City.
The 66 non-division games are against AL non-division opponents. Seven games against Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Tampa Bay; six games against Houston, Oakland, Texas and Toronto.
The Royals begin and end the season in Chicago against the White Sox. The opening series is April 1, 3 and 4. The Royals then play three games in Philadelphia before returning April 8 for their home opener against Minnesota at Kauffman Stadium.
The four games in the I-70 Series are consecutive dates: May 27-28 at Kauffman Stadium and May 29-30 in St. Louis. The Royals close the season Sept. 26-29 in Chicago.
All 30 teams released their schedules Wednesday, but starting times for all dates will be released at a later date.
In the books
Salvy Perez’s 15-game hitting streak, entering Wednesday, is the longest in Royals’ history by a catcher.
The previous longest 14-game runs were by Darrell Porter and Jason Kendall.
Porter’s streak spanned two seasons, which means it wouldn’t be recognized by Major League Baseball. He got a hit in his final 1977 game before opening 1978 with a 13-game streak.
Kendall had hits in his first 14 games as a Royal in 2010.
Perez is batting .365 in his streak (23 for 63), which has raised his average from .298 to .317.
Lots of people, it seems, remain interested to see how the Royals close out the season.
Fox Sports Kansas City reported its Tuesday telecast from Minnesota drew its highest-ever ratings for a Royals game in September. That includes Fox Sports telecasts from 1997-2002 and the current FSKC contract that began in 2008.
Tuesday’s 9-1 victory generated a 5.2 household rating in Kansas City, according to The Nielsen Company, and was the highest-rated program in the city between 9-10 p.m.
Overall, FSKC’s ratings are up 12 percent over last year.
Class AAA Omaha looked to rebound Wednesday night from Tuesday’s 13-1 thumping by Reno in the first game of the Pacific Coast League’s best-of-five championship series.
Reno, a Diamondbacks affiliate, raked Omaha starter Jake Odorizzi for nine runs in 3 2/3 innings in the series opener. The Storm Chasers, the defending PCL champions, finished with just three hits.
The series continues Friday at Omaha. The fourth and fifth games, if necessary, are Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at Omaha.
It was 29 years ago Thursday — Sept. 13, 1983 — that Dan Quisenberry broke what was then the single-season record for saves by getting his 39th when he got the final two outs in a 4-3 victory at California.
Quisenberry broke the record of Detroit’s John Hiller, who had 38 saves in 1973. Quisenberry finished the 1983 season with 45 saves. Bruce Sutter matched that total in 1984 for St. Louis before Yankees lefty Dave Righetti broke the record with 46 in 1986.
The current record is 62 by Francisco Rodriguez in 2008 with the Angels.
• Lefty reliever Francisley Bueno returned Wednesday from a two-game suspension, which stemmed from a 2008 incident while pitching for Atlanta. The suspension was held in abeyance on appeal until he returned to the big leagues.
• Will Smith did something Tuesday that no Royals rookie has done in more than 22 years when he pitched seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts in a 9-1 victory over the Twins. The last rookie to do that was Kevin Appier on July 20, 1990 in a 5-0 complete game over Boston at then-Royals Stadium. Appier had 10 strikeouts in that game.
• The Royals entered Wednesday with just 13 errors in their last 34 games. That streak dates to Aug. 6, and no team has committed fewer errors in that span.