Omar Infante has been terrible this year. Just...the worst. Going into tonight, Infante was hitting 60% worse than league average. His On Base Percentage was .230. That is apocalyptically bad. Per Fangraphs' version of Wins Above Replacement, Infante had been 'worth' -1.1 wins. That is 13th worse in baseball out of all 942 position players to step onto the diamond.
Baseball is a funny game. Infante, starting for the first time in 11 games, proceeded to have a career day at the plate, powering the Kansas City Royals to a 8-4 win over the Cleveland
One major theme of this game was poor defensive play, as the Royals committed four errors in a rare lapse in defensive efficiency. In the first inning, Alcides Escobar muffed a ground ball, forcing starter Yordano Ventura to throw an additional salvo of pitches to get out of the inning. In the third inning, Omar Infante let an easy ground ball roll between his legs in an avant-garde performance art titled Little League in Real Life. While Infante's artistic efforts were laudable, it again made Ventura toss more pitches than was required. In the ninth inning, Mike Moustakas unleashed an errant throw to allow Michael Martinez to reach second base.
The worst error came in the second inning. Two out singles by Jose Ramirez and Giovanni Ursula in the second inning placed runners on first and second base for Jason Kipnis. Kipnis rifled a shot to left fielder Ben Zobrist, who uncorked a wild throw to home plate. Salvador Perez was unable to handle the ball, as he attempted to reel it in as well as advance to the plate to tag out the lead runner. As the ball skipped to the backstop, Yordano Ventura displayed lackadaisy and neglected to cover the plate, ruining the possibility of throwing a runner out. That play was only ruled as one error--on Zobrist--but it included a trio of poor defensive actions. The Indians cut their deficit to one, making it 3-2 Royals.
Kansas City accrued those three runs in the second inning. Perez reached on a throwing error, and the red-hot Alex Rios singled to left field. Infante, starting at second base as Zobrist gave Alex Gordon a day off in left field, received a pitch up an in from last year's Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber. Infante clobbered Kluber, cracking the pitch to left field for a three-run home run.
The Royals struck again in the fifth inning. A Moustakas walk and a Kendrys Morales single placed runners on first and second base with one out. Hosmer, who has been unbearably terrible in the past month, actually did something useful. Homer pumped a hanging slider from new Racists pitcher Kyle Crockett into left field for an opposite-field double, scoring Moose.
Omar Infante then pulled a single into left field, scoring Morales and Hosmer and advancing to second base on the throw and ruled a double. Infant's performance art piece was, indeed, deeper than we all thought. 6-2, Royals.
Ventura was apparently more interested in a close game than winning, and did all that he could to make it so in the bottom of the fifth. Ventura loaded the bases, as a Carlos Santana double, Abraham Almonte single, and a plunking of Yan Gomes with the baseball gave life to the Racists. Jose Ramirez hit a ground ball to second base for a possible double play ball, but the Royals were only able to get the out at second base. Ventura again loaded the bases with a walk of Urshala. But a harmless ground ball by Kipnis ended the inning and the threat. 6-3, Royals.
OmaRBI again struck in the seventh inning. With Perez and Rios on second and third base, Infante continued his performance art piece. Little League is filled with moments of terrible baseball--but it is also filled with brilliant, memorable achievements as if they were written by a Hollywood screenwriter. Perhaps this entire year was merely a piece of performance art, a shout into the void, a straining grasp at the metaphysics of life and baseball. His exploration into the unknown was transcendent. Infante picked up his sixth and seventh Runs Batted In with his single, driving in Perez and Rios and pushing the score to 8-3.
The next few innings were smooth sailing. Ryan Madson took the sixth, Kelvin Herrera took the seventh, and Wade Davis took the eighth without incident. Franklin Morales took the ninth, and the incident-free baseball ceased, as Morales fell an unfortunate victim to the BABIP fairy. Martinez reached via the aforementioned error, Carlos Santana hit a weak infield single, and pinch-hitter Jerry Sands blooped a single to right field to load the bases with no outs. This prompted Ned Yost to insert Greg Holland to attempt a save.
Holland threw three pitches. The first, a slider, resulted in a sacrifice fly to score Martinez. The second, another slider, was swung on and missed by Yan Gomes. The third, a fastball at 90 MPH, was grounded into a double play.
The Royals won 8-4, splitting the series with Cleveland to avoid their fourth consecutive series loss. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos scuffled in a Thursday Night Football game at Arrowhead. At the time of this posting, the Chiefs and Broncos are playing a close game in the third quarter. Hopefully, the Royals' neighbor at the Truman Sports Complex can pull home their own victory.