As the Minnesota Twins come to Kansas City to commence a three-game intradivisional set, the first-place Royals will attempt to reacquaint themselves with the concept of winning a baseball game after getting swept at home by the lowly Pale Hoes. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact that Minneapolis is the city who stole the team from the city (Washington) who stole the Blues from Kansas City in 1900.
Make no mistake, stealing a team from the town who stole your hometown team breeds the kind of contempt that lasts generations, an antipathy passed down from father to son, gaining new bits of exaggerations, half-truths, and hearsay with each chain in the generational game of telephone until the original story has been completely replaced, leaving the fifth and sixth generations in the story filled a vitriolic fervor that is poorly informed but fueled by a fire kindled by an industrial-strength furnace.
Despite their outwardly harmless appearance and the large discrepancy between their win-loss record and their third-order winning percentage [suggesting that their true-talent level is significantly lower than their place in the standings might suggest], these Twins are to be despised for what they represent historically and morally. Theft.
And despite the late career acquisitions of Doug Mientkiewicz, Chuck Knoblauch, Gary Gaetti, Greg Gagne, and Harmon Killebrew, Kansas City is still at a severe deficit when it comes to payback evening the scales.
Tonight, the Twins will turn to soft-tosser Tommy Milone. That they are throwing out a southpaw whose fastball sits below 88-MPH is an especially underhanded move, as a dastardly cruel-streak that exposes the Royals' embarrassing weakness--an inability to hit unimpressive left-handed pitching. Peripherals suggest that Milone has been a bit lucky when it comes to ERA this season as his 3.60 ERA is significantly lower than his 4.52 FIP, 4.15 xFIP, and 4.31 SIERA. His .265 BABIP in 2015 is .026 lower than his career mark, so there is cause to believe that his luck could change.
Regression is a cruel mistress. Hopefully she makes an appearance tonight.
For the Royals, Yordano Ventura takes the mound. Over his last five starts and 32.0 innings pitched, the flame-throwing soph is 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA, .174/.264/.270 slash against, 43 strikeouts 13 walks, one hit-by-pitch, and four earned runs allowed. That this came with a not wholly unearthly .268 BABIP and that he lowered his ERA more than a point from 5.29 to 4.24 regressing his ERA to the mean significantly but still leaving a ways to go before getting down to the 3.67-3.73 neighborhood that his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA all reside in suggests that there is some truth to his late success.
Ventura became just the third pitcher in Royals history to record at least 11 strikeouts in consecutive starts last Wednesday. Today, he could make franchise history.
Could Ventura's on-field performance finally be living up to his previously untapped potential? Tonight could get us one step closer to that answer.
The hometown Royals will be:
To counter with Paul Molitor's dirty Milone sucker punch, Ned Yost dropped Alcides Escobar to the number-nine spot in the batting order. The. Gloves. Are. Off.
This game is a WAR.
This songs feels like it was written for tonight's tilt.