Game-changer. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
If you wanted to gauge where the Royals as a franchise are, looking at this series will drive you to a bender that should border on killing you by way of alcohol/drug consumption at a fatal level. For all the talk of how bright the future was heading into 2012, the keys to the Royals' future are flailing miserably, the role players are underwhelming, and only holdovers from the Allard Baird Era are proving to be star-level talents.
The Red Sox, whose current line-up largely started the year in Pawtucket, just shipped off $58.25MM in committed salary for 2013 in one fell swoop. Left on their active roster is one player whose batting fWAR component is greater than Alcides Escobar's, who is the third-best Royals offensive player this year. Yes, David Ortiz played the first game of the series before being put right back on the Disabled List after being activated for just one day, but these Red Sox are the Major League equivalent of a AAAA-team.
That AAAA-team--let's call them the Pawston Red Sox--just took three of four versus a team that was once thought to be up-and-coming. Today's 5 - 1 loss with the bipolar Luke Hochevar on the mound sealed the deal on the Royals, and once again elucidated how far the Royals actually are from being a respectable Major League team. Hochevar threw an eight-inning complete game, striking out six while walking only one, but allowed eight hits and five runs, four of which were earned following a passed ball that allowed Dustin Pedroia to get into scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the third.
The Red Sox never really got to Luke Hochevar in the way that he usually cedes runs. The big inning never happened. The home run he allowed was a home run in one park in the Majors and was a solo shot. None of this mattered, and Hochevar's complete game served little purpose other than to give the Royals' bullpen a rest after needing five relievers on Sunday and seven the day prior and was certainly not a sign of dominance or effectiveness.
Offensively, the Royals were ineffective, managing multiple base-runners in just two innings, and erasing one of those opportunities with a double-play. Their one-run was unearned and came without a hit, as Jarrod Dyson drew a walk and advanced to third on an errant throw on a stolen base attempt. The Royals were otherwise held down by Diasuke Matsuzaka, who hasn't been average since 2010, and the combination of Clayton Mortensen, a booze-sweating Vicente Padilla, and Andrew Bailey.
This is not a team that appears to be close to anything other than the tripe that Royals fans have been subjected to since The Strike. Drink up, kids. It can always get worse, and it usually does if you're a Royals fan.