Last night's loss to Cleveland put the Kansas City Royals in an extremely precarious position with regard to any post-season hope. You might have already thrown in the towel or perhaps never actually grabbed the towel in the first place. You might blame Ned Yost for last night or Kelvin Herrera or, gasp, even Alex Gordon. Whatever your past or present mental state might be, I doubt anyone can deny that a loss tonight would effectively end any hope for the first Royals' playoff game since 1985.
On the mound is Bruce Chen, once an opening day starter, now occupying a spot at the back of the rotation, but firmly in the spotlight for the near desperate Royals. After facing the Indians in two relief appearances early in the year, Chen's first 2013 start was against The Tribe and he twirled six innings of one hit ball. Since entering the rotation, Chen has allowed two runs or less in 8 of his 11 starts. One of those three bad starts, however, came his last time out in Detroit.
The Royals will be facing young Danny Salazar who has already notched 54 strikeouts in 40 innings of work. While Salazar has been impressive when on the mound, he has only managed to get through six innings just once in his last six starts. After throwing 89 and 103 pitches in his first two major league starts, Cleveland has limited the 23 year old right-hander to 80 pitches or less in his last six.
Last night's debacle aside, the Royals would be wise to use patience at the plate and get this game to the bullpen. Neither the bullpen nor the defense can be as bad as last night, right? They cannot, if this team wants to feel like a playoff contender come Thursday morning.