Typically, the Royals wait until May to have painful two-week stretches where they average less than two runs per game. In 2016, the bug has struck early.
On Friday night, the Royals' pitching staff allowed one hit - one. The team still lost the baseball game. Behind a stellar performance from ace Felix Hernandez, the Seattle Mariners took the series opener by a 1-0 final.
Kris Medlen, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and wound up surrendering just one hit, took the loss. Do you know how damn rare that is? Medlen (1-2) bounced back from a horrific start against the Orioles by working around four walks in the first two innings. Once he got through those two frames, he really locked in, retiring nine in a row to span the third through fifth innings. Somehow, he got through the game's first five innings without giving up a hit.
Medlen matched Hernandez pitch-for-pitch for more than half the game. He wound up being the pitcher to blink first, as Seth Smith tagged him for a towering solo home run to lead off the sixth frame. The blast barely made it over the right-field wall, narrowly escaping the grasp of Jarrod Dyson to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. After recording one more out, Medlen walked Nelson Cruz, and he was lifted by Ned Yost at that moment.
Medlen's final line: 5.1 innings, the one hit, the one run, and 103 pitches. He did walk five Mariners, but he fanned three and kept the damage at an absolute minimum. Royals fans have to be impressed with his effort.
As for the Royals offense, I truly am struggling to come up with words to express how terrible it was on this night. This is a team full of very good hitters. And yes, Felix Hernandez is very good. But it's almost impossible for any team to be as bad as the Royals have been offensively in the last week.
2nd inning: Eric Hosmer extends his hitting to streak to 18 games on a bunt single. He takes second on a throwing error by Hernandez. He's at second with nobody out, and then he makes it to third with one out. The Royals do not score.
3rd inning: With two outs, Alcides Escobar walks, steals second, and takes third on an error. The Royals do not score.
4th inning: With one out, Lorenzo Cain and Kendrys Morales are on first and second base. Alex Gordon hits into a double play. The Royals do not score.
5th inning: Salvador Perez leads off with a walk. He's bunted to second, and then is thrown out trying to go to third on Jarrod Dyson's fielder's choice. After Dyson steals second with two outs, Escobar strikes out. The Royals, again, do not school.
6th inning: With one out, Lorenzo Cain singles. He later is gunned down trying to steal second. The Royals...eh, you get the point.
7th inning: With one out, Alex Gordon walks. The next two batters make outs. The Royals score! Just kidding, they didn't.
8th inning: With one out, Escobar singles and steals second. Mike Moustakas flies out to deep right, advancing Escobar to third. Hernandez is lifted after 115 pitches, and Cain has a huge opportunity with the tying run at third and two outs. He grounds out. For the 16th straight inning, the Royals do not score.
9th inning: Hosmer leads off with a single. Morales swings at the ugliest pitch of the entire game, with a full count, to strike out, but Hosmer takes second. Gordon strikes out on four pitches. Perez hits a liner down the left-field line. It's clearly foul. Steve Physioc, like the dolt he is, shouts "THAT'S FAIR." On the next pitch, Perez flies out to the warning track in center field.
Here, watch the video. Because it's pretty hilarious when you're not cringing at it:
Steve Physioc you guys pic.twitter.com/lk7tqShvBm— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) April 30, 2016
Baserunners in every inning besides one. No runs. It's just painful to watch. And the last inning was the very worst.
Hernandez' final line: 7.2 innings, five hits, three walks, and four strikeouts. He isn't the same pitcher, from a velocity perspective, that we're used to seeing, but he thoroughly shut down Kansas City all evening. His ERA dipped to a tiny 1.38.
Danny Duffy, Joakim Soria, and Luke Hochevar kept the Mariners in check, yielding no hits between the three of them to keep the deficit at one run. They combined for 2.2 shutout innings. Hochevar surrendered the only two baserunners of the stretch, both of which being walks.
Seattle's Steve Cishek earned his sixth save of the year by retiring the side in the ninth.
Kansas City, who is going through an extended offensive drought, is riding some pretty astonishing streaks:
1. The Royals have not scored in 17 consecutive innings.
2. The Royals have scored in one of their last 23 innings.
3. The Royals are 0 for their last 22 with runners in scoring position.
One good thing that happened tonight: Perez threw out old friend, Nori Aoki, trying to steal on him. He's now throwing out better than 50% of would-be base-stealers this season.
Kansas City has lost four in a row. The Royals are 12-10. Despite having lost two straight games, the White Sox still lead the AL Central by three games.
Tomorrow: Yordano Ventura and Wade Miley. Maybe the Royals will score a run.