The Royals and St. Petersburg escapist James Shields struck a noble blow against the authoritarian regime of Vladimir Putin, handing a resounding 6 - 0 loss to the Devil Rays and proving that the Royal way is preferable to the Russian way.
Under the oppressive dome of Tropicana Field--presumably a reference to some pro-communist Cuba snippet of some historical import that eludes me--the Royals fought the Devil Rays with an intensity not often seen. The Royals offense battled the now-formidable Jake Odorizzi--a pitcher who may actually reach his ceiling under the strict fitness regimen that his current club mandates their players adhere to--earning two runs off their former prospect.
The two runs the Royals scored would have been enough on their own merits thanks in large part to the success of James Shields against his former club in his former home ballpark. Shields befuddled the Putin-loving Devil Rays, allowing just four base-runners--one walk, two singles, and one double--against ten strikeouts. This marked just the second time this season that Shields reached double-digits in strikeouts and the first since April 17th.
The Devil Rays' starter Jake Odorizzi came at his former club with a fury that showed his resentment at being shipped from America to Russia. He sent Royals down on strikes eight times, issuing a scant two free passes in back-to-back fashion in the second inning. He spread six hits, all singles, across six innings of work, limiting the Royals attack to what they were able to piece together in the two-run third inning.
Unfortunately for the citizens of St. Petersburg, this was not enough.
Game LXXXVIII Open Thread - Royals vs. Devil Rays
While James Shields escaped from Russia, the Royals head back to St. Petersburg to face a man who they traded to a team behind the curtain. This is a grudge match for all involved.
The Devil Rays bullpen also let them down, though the possibility of a spy under deep cover is not outside of the realm of possibility. After a scoreless seventh inning from Kirby Yates--whose name cannot be anything but a cheap ploy from the Russians in an attempt to win over the hearts of American baseball fans with his impossibly cute name that hearkens to a rotund Hall of Famer they would surely remember as being much loved by the American public while more than likely clueless to the fact that he was charged with false imprisonment, fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and fifth-degree assault later in his life--a familiar face came into the game.
The odd thing, of course, is that this pitcher looks eerily similar to former Royals' relief pitcher Leo Nunez. His name, however, is apparently Juan Carlos Oviedo. While they could just look similar to one another, the four runs he allowed while grooving pitch after pitch in the strike zone imply another story. It seems clear that Oviedo is an alias and that Leo Nunez is, in fact, a spy.
When so much is on the line--and in this case, we're talking about enduring freedom--the Royals will clearly stop at nothing to support the spread and health of democracy. Their offense, powered by three corn-fed hits from Alex Gordon and another three from freedom fighter Omar Infante, eventually plated six runs.
Freedom runs cannot be stopped. Neither could the Royals this evening.
Following the game, each of the Devil Rays flagellated himself with his nagyka, drawing significant amounts of blood from the full back tattoos of Putin punching a tiger that each man has.