The Royals got started early in this one: Eric Hosmer hit an opposite field home run off of the foul pole to give the Royals an early 1-0 lead. The Royals have a winning record when scoring first this year. But one run was not going to be sufficient, today.
Indeed, the Rangers were also ready to go. Delino DeShields led off with a single into center. Dillon Gee then hung a 1-2 curveball to Nomar Mazara that ended up 3 rows back in right center field. Thus, the Royals were immediately behind. Again.
The Royals attempted to crawl back in the second. Alex Gordon led off with a line drive single into right. Paulo Orlando attempted to bunt for a single and was rewarded with a sacrifice when the throw barely beat him to first. Alex somewhat surprisingly stole third, his sixth bag of the season. Drew Butera grounded out to a drawn-in Rougned Odor, failing to score the runner. And Jarrod Dyson ended the "rally" when he hit a hard grounder up the middle that was snagged by Lucas Harrell who made the toss to first easily.
Gee was actually pitching pretty well after that home run in the first; he allowed only 3 singles into the fourth inning, 2 of them bunt hits. Then with Adrian Beltre on first he struck out Odor on a 3-2 foul tip, continuing to raise hopes that this might be a decent start after all. His second pitch to Mitch Moreland was a cutter down the middle that was whacked for a 2-run home run just inside the foul pole in right field, killing that dream.
Drew Butera returned fire, immediately. He led off the fifth with a home run to left on a high fastball. The Royals weren't done, either. Dyson walked, stole second on Raul Mondesi's strike out, then stole third with Alcides Escobar at the plate. Escobar then hit a 3-1 fastball, possibly outside the strike zone, down the right field line to bring the deficit back to 1.
Matt Strahm made his major league debut for the Royals, in relief of Gee to start the seventh inning. Strahm was promoted when Wade Davis went on the DL. Facing fellow lefty Mitch Moreland he gave him two straight balls and then left a fastball up that Moreland lined into center for a single. Strahm got his first major league strike out when Ryan Rua swung at a fastball just off the inside of the plate. Strahm then walked Robinson Chirinos, but had 2 pitches that just missed. Ned Yost pulled him in favor of Peter Moylan.
Strahm only faced 3 hitters but he reminded me a bit of Danny Duffy before this year. He was able to paint with the fastball. He also frequently caught a bit more of the plate with his curveball than he had intended, which prevented him from using it to finish hitters off quickly.
Meanwhile Moylan gave up a double down the left field line to the struggling Hanser Alberto scoring one run for the Rangers and putting men at first and second. Moylan hit DeShields with his next pitch so Ned went back to the bullpen and brought in Brian Flynn to face Mazara in an attempt to keep the game close. Flynn induced a 1-2-3 double play to escape with no further damage.
The ostensibly porous Rangers bullpen did their job against the Royals well, once more. They allowed zero runs in three innings of relief. The Rangers bullpen finishes the season series against the Royals allowing 3 earned runs in 19 innings. All 3 were given up by Shawn Tolleson in the Rangers 7-4 victory last week.
- The Royals gave up at least one home run in every game this year against the Rangers.
- The Rangers are known for their power, but had 2 bunt hits today.
- The Royals are "known" for their speed, but now have 12 bunt hits to the Rangers' 13. Odor alone has 8; more than any 3 Royals put together.
- Adrian Beltre tied Babe Ruth on the all-time hit list with his single in the fourth.
- Drew Butera's home run tied a career high at 3. He continues to show increased ability at the plate; likely solidifying his future as a contributor in a backup role
- The Royals hit into two more double plays, today keeping them at third in the MLB.
- They also turned a season high four double plays.
The Royals still haven't won back-to-back games since the All-Star Break, but they've now lost four in a row. The Royals are closer to last place in the division than first. With plenty of games remaining against the Twins it’s now conceivable that they could finish in last place after being 15 games better at one point this season.