In today's game thread, I reminded you that Alex Gordon was 5-for-5 off A.J. Griffin and wondered if that matchup might be enough to get going. By the end of the second, he had made a very good running catch in left to save two runs and was 6-for-6 with a double that put him and Kendrys Morales - who had just taken a four-pitch walk - both in scoring position with no outs. Unfortunately a strike out, ground out, and pop out later, one could already begin to feel like the Royals had no shot at this game.
Morales decided to take matters into his own hands in the bottom of the fourth, hitting an opposite field home run on an 88-MPH fastball in a 3-2 count. And you started to have hope.
Edinson Volquez did his best Houdini impression all day, which was also encouraging, as it was reminiscent of how he pitched many times last year. After a 1-2-3 first inning, he slowed his pace, constantly getting into then out of trouble. In the third, he got some help finding the trouble from some shoddy outfield defense, putting runners on first and third after a pop fly dropped between Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando. Luckily, he managed to get Ian Desmond to hit a sharp grounder right to Alcides Escobar for an inning-ending double play. Say what you will about Whit Merrifield's offense lately, but at least he can turn two. In the fourth Volquez put another runner at third with one out, but a great stop by Merrifield playing in and a great pick by Morales on a poor throw from Cuthbert kept the Rangers scoreless.
In the sixth inning, it looked like Volquez might get out of a self-made mess again. Adrian Beltre led off with a single. Rougned Odor hit a ball into the right center gap, but Dyson threw Odor out at second. Elvis Andrus hit a sharp grounder to Escobar who held Beltre at third and threw out Andrus. Just as Denny Matthews was declaring that Texas was wasting scoring opportunities which the Royals would be able to capitalize upon, Mitch Moreland lined a single into right to tie it up at 1-1.
They showed a graphic that indicated one of the big differences between this year's team and last year's team is run differential in the seventh inning - last year +29, this year -22. Moments later it was -23 as Luke Hochevar served up a solo shot to Rangers number-nine-hitter Delino DeShields Jr, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Kelvin Herrera pitched the eighth and managed to keep the Royals only down by one, working out of trouble with a pair of strikeouts to Moreland and Robinson Chirinos. Ned Yost then made a move in the ninth to outline just how important these games are for the Royals right now. He used Wade Davis even while trailing by one. Davis, of course, pitched a scoreless inning.
Kendrys Morales led off the ninth inning against Rangers closer Sam Dyson with a nine-pitch at-bat culminating in a line-drive single, giving Morales three hits on the day. Brett Eibner came in to pinch run. Gordon followed by skying a high fly ball into center for a routine out. Orlando drilled the Rangers' Dyson with a line drive off the first pitch he saw, which was bad luck as it probably would have been a single otherwise. It bounced away, and once he finally found it, Dyson almost threw it into center. Fortunately for the Rangers and unfortunately for the Royals, second baseman Rougned Odor corralled the errant throw just in time to record the second out of the inning.
With the game and possibly the make-up of this roster in the balance, Ned Yost went to his bench and tagged Salvador Perez into the game to pinch hit for Merrifield. Perez didn't get to swing, beaned on the hand with the first pitch, pushing the tying run into scoring position and putting the winning run on base - or at least that's what appeared to happen. Somehow, someone in New York saw something that made them think Perez actually fouled it off, so he hit a single into left instead, still setting up the same scenario just one pitch later. Yost finished emptying his bench by calling upon Christian Colon - he of the winning pinch hit in the World Series - to try and at least tie the game. Unfortunately Colon dumped the ball directly in front of the plate, and Chirinos was able to throw him out, ending the game.
At the start of the broadcast, Steve Physioc mentioned that it had been 23 days between back-to-back wins. Unfortunately, it’s now been zero days since their last back-to-back losses. After dominating the All-Star Game, the Royals have gone 3-6. They completely failed when presented with an opportunity to gain ground on Cleveland, who got swept by Baltimore over the weekend. The Royals will next face a struggling Angels team for three starting tomorrow night, but Texas was struggling coming into this series and that didn’t seem do the Royals much good either. It may be time to admit that the Royals just don’t have it in them to make it to the playoffs this year.