As is generally the case in Jeremy Guthrie starts, the questions 'Is he still pitching?' and 'What was the damage?' are usually asked. Fortunately for the Royals, the answers were 'no' and 'not much.' Unfortunately for the Royals, a bigger problem arose. The Royals lost their second consecutive game with a lead after seven innings as Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined for a truly epic meltdown. The Angels win 7-6.
It wasn't until the fourth inning that Guthrie allowed multiple baserunners in one frame, a marked improvement from his recent pitching endeavors, and it would be the only frame in which he did so. David Murphy, doubled to right field with two outs in the fourth inning. Conor Gillaspie would flick a grounder up the middle for a single, which scored Murphy. Former Royal David DeJesus walked, but Carlos Perez flied out to end the inning with only a single run allowed by Guthrie. Guthrie retired the final six batters to get through the fifth and sixth innings with no drama. His final line: six innings pitched, three walks, two strikeouts, one earned run.
The Royals, as they have so often done in recent contests, struck immediately. In the first inning, a trio of consecutive singles by Alcides Escobar, Ben Zobrist, and Lorenzo Cain resulted in Alcides' feet crossing home plate for a run. But with no outs and runners at first and second base, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales, and Mike Moustakas all made weak outs to end the threat with no further runs scored.
Angels' starter Garrett Richards stymied the Royals offense for most of the game, wiggling out of a couple of different jams. However, Richards faltered in the sixth inning. After walking Morales, Moustakas doubled to the opposite field, placing runners at second and third with no outs. Alex Rios hit a ball to deep right field, which scored Morales and allowed Moose to advance to third. Infante grounded out, but the one and only Drew Butera singled on a nice line drive to score Moose.
The Royals struck again in the seventh inning. Zobrist walked because Zobrist is The Bomb Diggity. For inexplicable reasons, Yost inserted Jarrod Dyson as Zobrist's pinch runner despite Rios' clear participation in the game. Remember this later, for it will be important. Regardless, Dyson advanced to third on a delayed steal of second base and an errant throw by the Angels' Perez. Hosmer singled him in, and Morales doubled Hosmer in to make it 5-1 Royals.
Wade Davis, who had not pitched in a week, helped anchor the bullpen to finish the game. Davis looked slightly creaky, whether due to his back discomfort or the rust from accumulation of disuse. A Gillaspie leadoff single segued into a bizarre plate appearance vs. Trout worked a full count, aided by purely fantastic umpiring...
"It's not a strike unless Mr. Trout swings at it" pic.twitter.com/bsLI2VRPZy— Brandon H. (@BHIndepMO) August 14, 2015
...and then the best player in baseball crushed a double to center field, because that's what he does if the middle of the zone is the only thing that is a strike. A Murphy groundout would score Trout to make it 5-3 Royals. It was the first time that Davis gave up two runs in the same outing since April of 2014, or 114 appearances ago.
Greg Holland has experienced some performance issues recently, but the ninth inning was pure nightmare Holland. I won't describe it for you but I will list what happened:
DeJesus single. Perez walk. Cron double, DeJesus and Perez score (5-5 all, no outs, Victorino replaces Cron as pinch-runner). Giavotella bunt single. Calhoun double, Victorino and Giavotella score (7-5 Angels, no outs). Calhoun to third base on passed ball. Trout walk. Franklin Morales replaces Holland. Morales, thankfully, Morales ended the inning by getting Pujols, Murphy, and Gillaspie out.
Remember when I said this?
Zobrist walked because Zobrist is The Bomb Diggity. For inexplicable reasons, Yost inserted Jarrod Dyson as Zobrist's pinch runner despite Rios' clear participation in the game. Remember this later, for it will be important.
The Royals mounted a valiant comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough. Dyson's pinch run for Zobrist meant that Zobrist was not able to bat, and Zobrist is a significantly better hitter than Dyson. Dyson grounded out. Cain flied out. A beautiful Hosmer solo shot brought the game to within one run with two outs, though. Morales then singled, Moose then walked.
Alex Rios flied out to center field to end the game. He could have been pinch-hit for by Dyson except Dyson was already used in place of Zobrist. 7-6, Angels. This was the second game in a row in which Yost's bullpen and lineup choices were less than optimal. He shows no indication of changing.
Also, Drew Butera should probably not be on the Royals roster. Not only is he hitting 78% below league average, but it seems like he and Holland don't mix:
Greg Holland: 1.98 ERA with Sal, 14.21 ERA (so far) with Butera. https://t.co/Zo14DzBZeP— Brandon H. (@BHIndepMO) August 14, 2015
Two losses in a row is nothing to panic about. However, if these traumatizing events lead to some changes for October, then that's great. Unfortunately, that is probably unlikely.