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Game 78 Open Thread - Dodgers vs. Royals Finale

Big Game James heads to the mound to in the rubber match against the Los Angeles Dodgers. There will be no Clayton Kershaw on the mound tonight, which is excellent news for the Royals.

"Hey, let's beat the Dodgers tomorrow"
"Hey, let's beat the Dodgers tomorrow"
Ed Zurga

In the last game of this three-game interleague series, the Royals will attempt to take 2 out of 3 from the excellent Dodgers. Unfortunately, Los Angeles has been playing quite well recently, winning 7 of their last 10 games, while Kansas City is crashing down after their 10 game winning streak.

The Royals have won 1 of their previous 6 games. During this stretch, the Royals' offense has taken a collective vacation, scoring a paltry 2.17 runs per game. Furthermore, the Royals have been continuing a season-long stretch of lack of grit. No, seriously. They are 8-15 in games decided by one run, have a losing 19-20 record at home, and are 4-4 in extra innings despite a deep and talented bullpen. They have already exceeded last year's walkoff losses (4 this year to 3 in 2013) and have not won a single walkoff game this year, far behind last year's pace (when they won 7). The pitching staff for the Royals has been giving the offense chances all year--only once has the staff given up more than 3 runs in the past 7 games--but whether through mismanagement, bad luck, or lack of skill, the Royals have frittered away too many close games.

To the mound for the Royals is James Shields, who is having his worst season since 2010. His ERA, FIP, xFIP, K/9, HR/9, and BABIP are all the worst of his past four seasons. He has given up so many runs per nine innings that Baseball-Reference has him at 0.0 WAR for the season (though Fangraphs, using an FIP based model, has him at 1.7). Unfortunately, he has pitched very poorly at Kauffman Stadium in his career as well, sporting a 4.52 ERA and giving up a .293/.342/.442 line to hitters. The Royals, however, hope he can buck the trends and give the team a solid outing.

The Dodgers close out the series with Dan Haren, who has been a shell of his former self for the past few years. He has a 3.62 ERA this year but a 4.30 FIP, and is striking out one and a half fewer batters per nine innings than his career. Still, Haren is a veteran pitcher who still has value and talent.

Kansas City sends this lineup tonight:

A Royals victory means a 41-37 mark, while a loss drops the team to 40-38, further erasing the remnants of the winning streak and bringing the Royals back to where they have hovered most of the season.

A blue team will win tonight. Whether it will be the city of angels or the city of Kansas is yet to be decided.