The Kansas City Royals have played some horrible games the past three weeks, but Saturday's 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels may be the worst. It truly takes a team effort to play a game so pathetic on all fronts.
The Royals offense looked absolutely putrid today, failing to score any runs on former Royal and career minor-leaguer Billy Buckner. Despite the fact that Buckner entered today's game walking 12% of the hitters he faced in Triple-A, the offense chose to hack away at pitches, only forcing the starter to toss 71 pitches in five innings. Kansas City hitters only picked up two hits against Buckner, despite the fact that he walked three batters and only struck out two.
When the Royals actually managed to put runners on base against the spot starter, the team made foolish decisions to squander their opportunities. Billy Butler led off the second inning with a walk. Eric Hosmer, likely on his own merits, decided the best decision would be to bunt Butler over to second base. Hosmer did hustle down the line (sliding into first base) in an attempt to attempt to reach base, but was thrown out on the play.
First of all, why is your first baseman dropping a bunt in the second inning? Unless a team puts an extreme shift on Hosmer, which they won't because he cannot pull the ball with any power consistently, he has no reason to drop down to bunt for a hit.
Secondly, why on earth would you sacrifice Butler over? Billy Butler is many things, but fast is not one of them. He is incredibly unlikely to score on a single with one out. Moving Butler over one base is not worth trading an out for. Unsurprisingly, the Royals failed to drive Butler in.
Finally, why are you playing for one run in the second inning? The Royals offense has been inept this season, so willingly sacrificing outs early in the game is asinine. Even if Yost did not call for the bunt himself, he has helped create a culture where these counterproductive plays are encouraged.
Mike Moustakas led off the third inning, and was hit by a Buckner pitch. The third baseman then attempted to steal second base, and was promptly thrown out.
Moustakas has compiled -2.6 baserunning runs in his career. He is not the runner you want to send when your team cannot get anything going on offense. It was a complete waste of an out.
The Royals offense threatened to score in the fifth inning. Moustakas cracked a one-out double, and the team's No. 9 hitter George Kottaras worked a walk. This should have been a great opportunity for the top of the order to hit with runners on, since you want your best hitters receiving the most plate appearances. Instead, Chris Getz came to hit with two runners on.
Getz came up hacking, fouling off three pitches before swinging at a ball that nearly hit the plate. Getz is not Vladimir Guerrero, so he rolled the ball over for an inning-ending double-play. The second baseman argued the call with the field umpire, claiming he was safe, and got himself tossed from the game.
The offense never threatened to score again off the Angels bullpen. The offense finished with four hits; the Moustakas double, plus singles by Elliot Johnson, Alcides Escobar and Hosmer. Butler walked twice, while Kottaras walked once.
The pitching and defense was nothing to brag about either. Jeremy Guthrie started the game pretty well, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Even though Guthrie did not allow a hit until Hank Conger smashed a solo home run, the team gave up it's first run in the fourth inning. Mike Trout walked, and promptly stole second upon reaching base. Kottaras made an errant throw, which allowed Trout to advance to third. Trout scored on an Albert Pujols groundout.
Conger's homer in the sixth gave the Angels a 2-0, and Josh Hamilton hit another homer in the seventh to push the game to 3-0. Guthrie came out to start the eighth, but started to struggle. Conger led off the inning with a single, then J.B. Shuck reached base with a bunt hit down the third base line. Moustakas attempted to throw Shuck out, but it would have taken a great play, since the bunt was well placed.
Alberto Callaspo then sacrificed the two runners over to give Guthrie a free out. Trout followed Callaspo with a single, driving in Cogner. Guthrie then hit Pujols to load the bases, and Ned Yost pulled the starter for Louis Coleman.
Coleman did not pitch well in his first appearance, allowing singles to Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick. Both of the runners were charged to Guthrie. The starter finished the day allowing seven runs (six earned) over 7 1/3 innings pitched. Guthrie only issued one walk, but only recorded two strikeouts as well. It's never a good sign when your starter records as many strikeouts as home runs allowed.
The Royals are now 21-25 on the season, and continue to lose baseball games at an alarming rate. But hey, at least nobody's panicking.