So that happened...
A first-pitch 96 MPH Blake Wood fastball up on the outer edge of the strike zone was deposited just past the fence in straight-away center field by Casey Kotchman, erasing the memory of a pretty impressive pitcher's duel.
For Luke Oplakia Hochevar, it was the sort of night that made you wonder if he has finally put it all together. We all know how this dance goes. Luke flashes brilliance regularly. Four innings of dominance followed by an implosion. For the past few starts, however, the implosion hasn't come, leaving the world's population to wonder if the world has tilted off its axis. He pitched seven strong innings, sending down seven via the thought-to-be extinct strikeout from a Royals' starting pitcher. He allowed five hits and walked two batters, one of whom was walked intentionally. He baffled Rays hitters through six, got touched up a little in the seventh, but narrowly escaped, ceding his first run of the game.Unfortunately, that one run matched what the Royals offense had been able to do against Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson, which consisted of an Alex Gordon double, a Melky Cabrera single, and a check-swing single to shallow left center off the bat of this kid called Eric Hosmer.
In the ensuing eighth inning, the Royals were unable to capitalize on Billy Butler's one-out single, even after getting the grittiest pinch-runner in the history of the game Chris Getz all the way to third base.
Aaron Crow, in what has become expected of both him and other early-season middle relief workhorse Tim Collins, pitched an erratic bottom half of the eighth. He did, however, manage to hold the tie. The bottom of the order came up in the top of the ninth for the Royals and managed to do nothing against Professor Kyle Farnsworth, and Blake Wood did what it seemed like Crow would do in the inning prior, only at this point in the game the Royals had no chance to answer.
I suppose another strong Hochevar start means more in the greater scheme of things than a mere win in a lost season, but that doesn't seem to make a crushed homer from the over-performing Casey Kotchman any more palatable.