Just another typical loss on Sunday for Ned Yost to smile about, as the Kansas City Royals fell 5-2 to the Los Angeles Angels. The Royals have now lost 5 games in a row and 16 out of their last 20, including four straight to the Angels at home.
This was your pretty standard Royals loss in 2013, with absolutely no run support from the offense and some questionable handling of the pitching staff by Frank. If you skipped this game to do something less painful, like watch Sporting KC, cook out or self-flagellate, the story will sound all too familiar.
Wade Davis actually pitched a pretty solid game, as he had shutout the Angels through six innings. Heading into the seventh, Davis had fanned six hitters and walked none, a very nice turnaround compared to his previous starts.
The game started to unravel for Davis in the seventh. Josh Hamilton hit a solo home run to lead off the inning, then Howie Kendrick drew a walk. Yost didn't have any pitchers warming up, so Davis stayed in for two more batters. He did force an Alberto Callaspo flyout, but walked Chris Iannetta to put two runners on.
Since the Royals don't have a left-handed pitcher in the bullpen who is good at getting left-handed hitters out, Yost turned to Bruce Chen to relieve Davis. Chen promptly allowed back-to-back singles to J.B. Shuck and Erick Aybar to drive in two runs, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead. Yost decided to play with fire by bringing in Luke Hochevar with two runners on, but the much maligned pitched did force a Mike Trout flyout and Albert Pujols groundout to end the inning.
Hochevar started the eighth inning and allowed two runners to reach base, issuing a walk to Mark Trumbo and hitting Kendrick with a pitch. Hochevar did record two outs between those plays. After the hit batter, Yost called on Aaron Crow to record the final out of the eighth.
Crow allowed both of his inhereited runners to score, surrendering singles to Iannetta and Shuck before Aybar grounded out to end the inning.
The Royals offense got a few runners on today, but a lack of extra base hits and timely hitting doomed the team's chances for scoring runs. David Lough drive in the first run of the game for the Royals, cracking a two-out triple in the second to drive in Lorenzo Cain. The inning, however, could have been better. Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer reached base with back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, but Cain grounded eliminated them both by grounding into a fielder's choice double-play.
George Kottaras scored the Royals only other run. The catcher drew a one-out walk in the fifth innning, then swiped second base. Kottaras then advanced to third on an Alcides Escobar single, and scored when Jerome Williams made an errant throw to first base attempting to pick-off Escobar.
The Royals stranded six runners in the last two innings of the game, just to make things more miserable for the viewing public. Chris Getz hit a one-out single in the seventh inning, then swiped second base. Escobar then struck out swinging, causing the Angels to intentionally walk Alex Gordon, which brought. Jeff Francoeur to the plate.
Frenchy came to the plate because Butler got tossed for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire, Marty Foster (who ejected Getz yesterday and blew the Trout call on Friday). The decision was puzzling, as the right-handed pitching Kevin Jepsen was on the mound, and Yost had the left-handed hitting Mike Moustakas on the bench. Yost decided to go with Francoeur in Butler's spot, and he hit a flyout to end the inning.
In the eighth inning, David Lough reached on a two-out "error" by Trumbo, where the first baseman fielded the ball cleanly and stepped on the bag before Lough reached, but the field umpire blew the call. Elliot Johnson followed Lough with a single, but Adam Moore, pinch-hitting for Kottaras, hit a groundout to end the inning.
Getz led off the ninth inning with a walk, then Escobar reached base on an infield single. With two one and none out, Alex Gordon struck out swinging against Ernesto Frieri. Yost again had the option to bring in Moose, but sent Francoeur to the plate against a second righty.
Francoeur managed to work a 12-pitch at bat, but did receive an extra strike from Foster.
Frieri got Frenchy to swing-and-miss on a 2-2 fastball, but Foster called the pitch a foul ball. Mike Scioscia came out and argued the call, which got him tossed as well.
Edit: My original explanation for what happened was wrong. Foster originally called Frenchy out on a 2-2 pitch where it was unclear if he foul tipped the pitch or not. Yost came out and argued the Francoeur tipped the pitch, which caused Foster to change his call. Mike Scioscia then came out and argued that Yost couldn't appeal that play and that Yost should have been tossed for coming out to the field for arguing balls and strikes in the first place. Foster then tossed Scoscia. All credit goes to Roy In Omaha for setting the record straight.
Francoeur did not take advantage of the gift, hitting a flyout to center. Hosmer followed Frenchy with a groundout to Aybar, ending the game.
Escobar finished the game with three hits, while Hosmer had two. Butler, Getz and Gordon all reached base twice, each hitting a single and drawing a walk. The team had ten hits and four walks, more baserunners than the Angels had during the game, but only mustered the two runs.
The Royals are 21-26 on the season, sitting in fourth place and 6.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. The team's next four games will come against the St. Louis Cardinals, who have the best record in the NL. To close: "I never say it can't get worse." - Buddy Bell.