Four innings in Leningrad.
That is the amount of time that it took the Royals to expose the pyritic hope that a three-game sweep of the Pale Hoes had rekindled over the weekend for what it was.
To be clear, no rational fan was thinking that the Royals were somehow going to charge forth and seize the extra Wild Card spot based on a solid six-game home stand the week prior. The hope, instead, was for the team to play capable, respectable baseball.
By the end of the fourth inning in front of a listless 9,900 Russians who had just made their way into the wretched dome for an escape from the bitter Baltic rain that drove them from the bread line and to spend their last remaining hard-earned yet ultimately worthless rubles to watch men play a game, the Kansas City nine were outclassed by the home team and victory was obviously not going to be in the cards. Jeremy Hellickson, the Pride of Vladivostok, shut down the foreign Royals, thwarting each pathetic rally with force of will more than anything measurable, inducing puny ground-balls and meager pop-ups at his choosing and turning full-grown men into whimpering little children. Only Alex Gordon was able to put together an admirable game in defeat, reaching base three times and recording two assists from the outfield, but all his work for the cause of freedom was ultimately pointless. This interminable battle resulted in a loss.
The Cold WAR is alive and well, comrades. It is played on abominable turf in front of a depressed and deflated crowd of Russians. If today was any measure, Freedom is losing the battle.