The Kansas City Royals offense looked ready for the playoffs on Sunday, as we witnessed the true potential these hitters have; the ability to manufacture runs.
If I've learned anything from listening to what the people on my television screen tell me, it's that you need to manufacture runs in the playoffs, because three-run homers stop working in the post-season. The Royals have taken that message to heart, and it showed on Sunday.
Literal speed demon Jarrod Dyson led off the top of the first inning with a double. Alcides Escobar, having paid attention to his baseball lessons, dropped down a bunt to move Dyson over to third. Escobar
may have been chose to bunt for a hit on his own, but the message was clear: get Dyson home at all costs. Alex Gordon heard the message, and hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to drive Dyson home. Two outs, one run manufactured.
Elliot Johnson helped the Royals manufacture a second run in the bottom of the eighth, hitting a leadoff double to rightfield. Kansas City hitters came through in the clutch again, as Dyson moved Johnson to third with a flyout to centerfield, and Escobar hit a groundout to the shortstop to drive Johnson in. Two outs, one run manufactured.
In between the Royals two displays of beautiful small-ball at it's finest, the New York Yankees used some dark regular season magic called the "home run." Robinson Cano smacked a two-run homer in the third, and Vernon Wells followed Cano with a solo shot of his own. Wells drove in the fourth Yankees run of the day on a single after Brett Gardner hit a double in the top of the fifth. Four runs, but none were manufactured, so we all know they won't count when it matters.
....Ok, I feel a little better now. Time for some actual analysis.
The Royals lost 4-2 to the Yankees Sunday, marking the first time the team has been swept all season.
Ervin Santana continues to throw strikes, as he walked zero batters in 6.1 innings, but the Yankees tagged the starter for eight hits and four runs. New York batters had prepared for Santana well; as a group, they did a good job laying off the right-hander's slider in two-strike counts. That limited Santana's ability to finish hitters with strikeouts, as the veteran starter finished with four on the day. The extra balls in play led to extra hits, and Santana threw a couple of bad pitches in the third that got crushed for home runs.
Royals hitters looked inept against Hiroki Kuroda all day, and did themselves no favors by swinging early and often in the count. Kuroda tossed 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. The right-hander struck out one batter, but only issued one walk as well. If you have seen one Royals game where the opposing pitcher dominates the team despite an inability to strike hitters out, you've really seen them all.
Kansas City has lost three in a row, and six of their last seven games. The team is now 18-16 on the season. The Royals fly to the left coast on Monday to start a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.