In the pregame, I wrote that the Royals were 8-15 in one run games, had a losing record at home, and had yet to score a walk-off victory due to a combination of a lack of timely hitting/pitching, bad luck, and managerial mistakes.
Tonight, the Royals lost a one run game, at home, failing to walk-off despite a runner in scoring position. They exhibited hitting and pitching meltdowns, had awful luck, and suffered due to cripplingly poor managerial decisions by Yost. This is not how you win ballgames.
Lorenzo Cain started off the game loudly by hitting a leadoff homer against starter Dan Haren. Eric Hosmer exhibited stunning restraint and took first base on what is called a ‘walk,’ his first time since The Battle of Waterloo, but was stranded. The second inning was an astounding example of poor approach, all three (3!) Royals popping out in a grand total of eight (8!) pitches.
This was clearly to lull the Dodgers into complacency. In the bottom of the fourth, Butler cracked a leadoff single. Gordon hit into a fielder’s choice (just barely avoiding a double play) and took first base. He then proceeded to steal second. Moose hit a liner to right field; Puig nailed the throw but A.J. Ellis couldn’t handle it, allowing Gordon to score. The Royals added another two in the fifth. Jarrod Dyson hit an impressive bomb past the right field bullpen (that’s what bat speed do). Cain singled and Hosmer walked. Jamey Wright, Ancient Dinosaur of the Paleozoic Era, threw an unblockable ball that let Cain and Hosmer advance. William Butler still attempted to hit into a double play, but scored Cain instead.
James Shields struggled at Kauffman Stadium yet again. Two pitches into the game, Matt Kemp smashed a home run, eliminating the Royals’ lead immediately. It was quickly apparent Shields did not have his best stuff; the Dodgers made a couple of very loud outs in the inning, Dyson taking away an extra base hit. This continued to happen, as the Dodgers mashed line drives and deep flies for the next few innings. Dee Gordon tripled in the second when Shields attempted a pickoff and balked him into the plate, the second time this quirky occurrence has happened this year (perhaps Shields should junk that move). Yasiel Puig also tripled in the inning, scoring on a sac fly. Those two continued to be a thorn in Shields’ side; Gordon again got into scoring position with a single and a steal in the fifth inning and Puig doubled to score him.
In the 8th inning, Wade Davis imploded when tasked with holding a 4-4 tie. Andre Eithier singled, Gonzalez singled. Fortunately, Justin Turner’s ground ball bounced off of Davis’ foot, trapping Gonzalez in a rundown. Unfortunately, Davis spontaneously lost his control, walking Scott Van Slyke and hitting Mark Ellis, forcing in the go-ahead run. 5-4 Dodgers. In the bottom inning, the Royals continued the stink; though Infante did walk and steal a base, pinch-hitter Perez struck out on three pitches and Escobar hit a weak ground ball to close the inning.
The Royals again threatened in the ninth. Dyson struck looking out on a borderline pitch (bad luck #1), but Valencia singled to the opposite field and was replaced by pinch runner Pedro Ciriaco. Ciriaco stole second and was initially called out; during the review process, the call was overturned and Mike Moustakas was thrown out of the game for some reason. Cain stepped up to the plate, worked the count, and smashed a line drive to opposite field. First baseman Van Slyke merely had to jump to catch the sharply hit ball (bad luck #2), but Ciriaco, in a stunning failure to remember simple baseball rules and was doubled off at game first. Apparently the Royals' minor league system doesn't teach 'freeze on a line drive', like I learned when I was six, anymore. Royals lose 5-4.
Yost's pinch hitting decisions were puzzling. First, he did not pinch hit Salvador Perez for Brett Hayes in the sixth inning with two men on base, despite Hayes' OPS barely approaching the number of Spartans under King Leonidas, despite the immense defensive upgrade that Perez offered. Then, he did use Perez, but to pinch hit for Moustakas, thus making third base worse and only getting one plate appearance out of the young star.
This game was a punch in the gut, if Royals fans could feel anymore. It was a winnable game, as the Royals knocked out starter Haren before he reached 5 innings, but proceeded to strike out 7 times and mustering only 4 baserunners against the quartet of bullpen arms used by the Dodgers. The Royals are now 40-38, have won 1 of their last 7, have coughed up 4.5 games against Detroit, and begin a series against a surging Angels team leading the AL Wild Card race.