Jeremy Guthrie hung an 84 mph slider with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the fourth tonight and Dayan Viciedo effectively ended the Royals' season by depositing said pitch well over the left-centerfield fence. The grand slam was a no-doubter. The end of any Kansas City playoff hopes, while likely up for some debate, is close to being a no-doubt issue as well.
Playing in front of a small crowd to begin with, the Sox five run fourth effectively extinguished any excitement associated with this team. Even a slew of run scoring situations after Viciedo's blast seemed as just teases to a game already lost.
Billy Butler and Alex Gordon led off the bottom of the fourth inning with singles, but the Royals managed just one run. The Royals led off the fifth with an Alcides Escobar walk, followed two outs later by a Hosmer single only to see Butler ground out to end the inning. The Royals' second run followed in sixth, courtesy a Gordon lead off single, a wild pitch and a David Lough run scoring single.
There was a glimmer of hope in the seventh after Jarrod Dyson reached on an error (likely should have been ruled an infield single), advanced to second on a gritty ground out by Chris Getz (that's snark, Connor Gillaspie made a nice play on a sharp grounder) and moved over to third on a passed ball. Billy Butler was the plate with two down and nearly sliced a home run down the right field line: missing by something less than ten feet. Alas, Billy tapped the next pitch back to the pitcher - a ridiculous up and in pitch that a hitter of Butler's prowess had no business swinging at - and the game remained 5-2.
A three run gap that felt like six or eight. Heck, if Ryan and Rex could not get excited by Billy's near miss.
The eighth inning held out hope as well - if by 'hope' you mean that 'I guess it's conceivable no matter how hopeless it all feels'. With one out, Salvador Perez singles and Mike Moustakas walked. Emilio Bonafacio pinch ran for Moustakas and was doubled off first on David Lough's subsequent looping liner. Like I said, three runs suddenly seems like a huge hill to climb, doesn't it?
The Royals, sending Escobar, Dyson and Getz to the plate, went with a whimper in the ninth: looking more like the team that dug itself a huge hole in May and nothing like the team that came out of the All-Star Break playing some of the best ball in the league.
Which one of those teams is the 'real' Royals? The truth is they both are. The sad truth is that team, the one that is equal parts May and equal parts late July, will not make the playoffs.