Dillon Gee's last Major League start came on June 14 of last year, against the Atlanta Braves and Mike Foltynewicz. Gee was awful, leaving in the fourth after allowing eight runs, but the Braves were worse and lost 10-8. Tonight, Dillon Gee was serviceable, and the Braves are even worse than they were last year, but the Royals still managed to lose in convincing fashion, looking lifeless in a 5-0 shutout. The Royals managed just eight hits and failed to draw a single walk, allowing Foltynewicz to go deep into the game. His eight-inning stint helped the Braves avoid using their terrible bullpen much, not that Royals hitters were doing much with the pitches they were getting anyway.
Gee matched goose eggs with the 24-year-old Foltynewicz for the first five innings. In the sixth, Mallex Smith opened the inning with a double, one of his three hits on the night. Erick Aybar, who has been an automatic out all season, sacrificed him to third. After a Nick Markakis walk, Ender Inciarte doubled to bring home the first run of the game. Ned Yost decided to have Freddie Freeman intentionally walked to load the bases. He left Gee in to face Kelly Johnson, who singled home two runs to make it 3-0, Braves. Luke Hochevar retired the next two hitters, but the damage was done. Atlanta may as well have possessed a ten-run lead at that point.
Mike Foltynewicz had a 5.59 career ERA in 116 Major League innings. Tonight, he threw 103 pitches, 74 of them strikes, and mowed through the Royals lineup like the Hall of Fame Braves pitchers of the '90s. The Royals managed a pair of hits in the first, but the rally was thwarted when Eric Hosmer was picked off first and Kendrys Morales struck out to end the inning. A Salvador Perez one-out double was wasted the next inning. Foltynewicz retired 13 of the next 14 hitters and completed eight innings pitched for the first time in his career. He struck out just four, but induced nine groundouts.
Perez and Morales each managed a pair of hits, as did Paulo Orlando, who mixed in a double. Chien-Ming Wang was unimpressive, giving up a two-run double to A.J. Pierzynski in the eighth and then allowing the first Braves triple of the season in the ninth.
The Royals are two games under .500 and are in danger of losing a series to the worst team in baseball. Actually, if you look at each team's record over their last 26 games, they are identical. Both teams are 9-17. A slump lasts about a week. This is becoming a problem. A major problem.