The Kansas City Royals dropped another series, losing 9-5 to the Cleveland Indians. Though the Royals attempted numerous comebacks, they were unable to overcome terrible pitching. They are now 9-15 in the month of September.
Kris Medlen had posted a 3.62 ERA and had averaged almost six innings per start during the month of September heading into today. Both of those numbers will skyrocket after today's performance. Medlen lasted a mere 3.2 innings, allowing six runs (all earned), nine hits, and one walk while accruing four strikeouts.
Medlen's troubles began immediately. A double and a triple by Fransisco Lindor and Carlos Santana, respectively, lifted Cleveland to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Alex Rios made a weak stab at a ball that could have only been caught on a full-effort dive, and this defensive mistake fueled the triple. Ben Zobrist countered with a solo home run in the bottom of the first to make it 2-1 Cleveland.
Medlen worked around a double by Abraham Almonte for a scoreless second, but quickly reverted back to being terrible. Jose Ramirez led off the third with yet another triple, and was scored by Lindor on a sac fly. Yan Gomes homered. The score was 4-1, Cleveland. Again, Kansas City rallied back in the bottom of the inning, as Alex Gordon singled home Alcides Escobar from third after his beautiful gap triple.
The fourth inning would prove to be the final straw for Medlen. Ramirez again knocked an extra-base hit, scoring former Royal Mike Aviles from first with a double. One passed ball and one walk later, and Jeremy Guthrie went in to relieve Medlen.
Despite being down 6-2, the Royals fought back valiantly once more. Salvador Perez doubled down the left field line in the bottom of the fourth, scoring Mike Moustakas ans Kendrys Morales after their hits. Escobar poked an infield single, and Perez scored from second with help of an errant throw. All of a sudden, it was 6-5 Royals and Guthrie's presence in the game became problematic.
And problematic it was, but it was far from Guthrie's most troubling moments. Guthrie traversed the fifth inning without fanfare, but walked A. Almonte to lead off the top of the sixth. Yost inserted Franklin Morales to face lefty Jason Kipnis after Aviles' sac bunt. Morales promptly gave up singles to Kipnis and Ramirez to make it 7-5 Cleveland. Out trotted Yost; to the bullpen trotted Luke Hochevar. Hochevar promptly gave up a single to Lindor, and Santana grounded out on what should have been a double play ball but wasn't. The score became 9-5 Indians, and there it would stay.
Kansas City displayed great tenacity in this game, refusing to back down even after getting behind early. The Royals stared at deficits of 2-0, 4-1, and 6-2, immediately responding to each of those with runs. Four different players received RBIs, and the team was pretty good in the clutch, as they have been all year.
In garbage time, Miguel Almonte got cleanly through an inning with a trio of weak grounders. It's always nice to see a guy bounce back from some rough outings, and since we could be seeing a lot of Almonte sooner rather than later, it is doubly good to see here.
The Royals continue to score lots of runs, and with Zobrist, this is truly a solid lineup.
Medlen was thoroughly terrible. His strikeout pitches were nasty and located well, but he looked lost most of the time. His pitches were missing constantly in varying directions. The worst part was that they missed their spot and instead travelled to the center of the plate. He allowed six extra base hits off of five different Indians. He was fooling nobody, and Cleveland punished him for it.
The defense was also bad, and at some point you've got to come back to reality from partying. The defense was still partying. Hosmer had a pretty awful day, seeing a liner shoot between his legs and mishandling a throw from Zobrist with a giant scoop. Rios looked slow, and his extremely poor decision to make a halfhearted stab at a ball in front of him gave the Indians two free bases--he could have either dove for the ball or played it on a bounce, but did neither. Failing to turn double plays was again a problem.
It's time to wonder whether or not F. Morales should be on the postseason roster. In his last nine outings, he has pitched a mere 5.1 innings. He has allowed 11 runs and 19 baserunners. With Danny Duffy's move to the bullpen and the right-handed heavy Toronto Blue Jays looming large, the Royals might not even need a second lefty.
Oh, and speaking of the Blue Jays--Toronto has home field advantage now.