With a runner on by way of a Melky Cabrera flare to shallow left, José Abreu accepted Ian Kennedy’s gift of a two-seamer down the pipe and sent a screaming liner (113 MPH) into the stands in deep left center. This hung dong put the White Sox up 2-0 in the first. In other words, the game was basically over with eight-and-half innings left to go.
When the game is over because two runs were scored in the first, any further description of the goings-on is probably unnecessary, but here goes.
An inning later, Kennedy missed his spot with a changeup, and third baseman Matt Davidson sent that pitch careening 452 feet into the waterfall in left. 3-0, White Sox.
Because every time the Royals were beneficiaries of devil magic from 2014 and 2015 is getting repaid in full this season—surely the price of having sold their souls—the fourth inning was a special exercise in excruciating remuneration. Avisaíl García hit a grounder to Mike Moustakas. Moustakas attempted to snag it on a short hop, but the ball kicked off the heel of his glove. After Avisaíl García reached on the error, Kennedy planted a curve ball on Leury García’s back foot. With two runners aboard pretty much entirely due to Royal boners, Kennedy opted to make things even easier for the White Sox, getting tapped for a balk while stepping off the rubber.
Who gets to bat with runners at second and third? None other than literally the second-worst hitter in baseball (min. 30 PA). Of course Cody Asche—owner of a jaw-dropping -37 wRC+ heading into this afternoon’s game—doubled in two runs with a grounder up the line. Why wouldn’t he?
Kennedy used another 700 pitches to get through the fourth, but he escaped without any further damage done despite loading the bases with three runners not named Cody Asche, who ended up getting thrown out at home by an alert Mike Moustakas.
In the next inning, Ian Kennedy retired the first batter he faced, but with Avisaíl García in the batter’s box, Kennedy came up lame after a first pitch strike and left the game with what later turned out to be a reported right medial hamstring strain, per in-game reports from the club.
At this point, the observant reader might have noticed that there have been no Royals’ highlights mentioned. Through four innings, the only real highlight was Salvador Pérez picking off Yolmer Sánchez at first. White Sox starter Derek Holland faced one over the minimum through the fifth, as only Mike Moustakas reached base safely with a one-out double in the fourth. Holland’s pitch count through five? 54.
Mike Minor entered in relief of Kennedy and did what Kennedy had been unable to do: look decent. He struck out three and walked one in 1.2 innings of work.
As Moustakas did in the fourth, Cheslor Cuthbert stroked a one-out double in the sixth. Just as Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer did before them in the fourth inning, Whit Merrifield and Mike Moustakas stranded a runner in scoring position. Of course, when a team has managed a scant two baserunners through six innings, do they really deserve to have plated a run?
With Ned Yost fully embracing nihilistic management, Travis Wood relieved Minor. First up? Switch-hitting Melky Cabrera. Line-drive single. Second? Right-handed hitter José Abreu. Line-drive double. Third? Righty Avisaíl García. Ground-ball single to right.
Sure it was already a five-run deficit, but the more Ned Yost decides to wave off complaints of Travis Wood not being able to get righties out with a dismissive wanking gesture the more it seems like he knows more than every other shithead out there. It also makes it look like he gives zero shits about putting his players—or at least this player—in positions wherein they could enjoy success. Facing a slew of righties, Wood ran the deficit from 5-0 to 7-0 in the top of the seventh.
Lorenzo Cain led off the home half of the seventh with a walk after running the count full. Hosmer singled, and Cain went first-to-third. Pérez sacrificed Cain in on a fly ball to center. Alex Gordon followed by leaning into a pitch at taking it off the elbow, breaking the franchise record for being hit by a pitch with his 79th career HBP. Jorge Bonifacio grounded out to first but moved Hosmer and Gordon up a station, and Alcides Escobar reached on an error by third baseman Matt Davidson. The Davidson miscue—coincidentally, also the title of the long-lost Robert Ludlum novel fans have clamored for since his death in 2001—came with two outs, and Hosmer scored the second Royals run of the inning.
The error also spelled the end of Derek Holland’s outing. At 91 pitches, he gave way to hillbilly serial killer Anthony Swarzak, who recorded a quick out. Holland’s line on the afternoon: 6.2 innings, seven strikeouts, one walk, one hit batsman, three hits, two runs, one earned run.
With the Royals down five runs again, Wood attempted to shield the stadium from the blast of a righty-grenade by jumping on it again. Righty Davidson walked. A passed ball courtesy of Pérez starting a day game after a night because why not wear your catcher down to a nub in May game sent Davidson leisurely trotting to second. Righty Geovany Soto grounded out but moved Davidson to third. Switch-hitting Yolmer Sánchez hit a fly ball to medium-depth center, but Lorenzo Cain’s throw home was just a little off line and pulled Pérez to the first-base side of the plate as Davidson slid safely into home.
This just in: Travis Wood is a goddamn LOOGY. The season is a month old, and Travis Wood’s ERA on May 4 is 14.04. Maybe, just maybe it’s because he’s facing so many right-handed hitters. Sure, he’s been garbage against everyone, but if measured in dumpster fires, he’s been like two dumpster fires against lefties versus 17 dumpster fires against righties. If there’s one thing Yost doesn’t know, it’s that platoons exist, so maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
The hillbilly serial killer stayed in to face Whit Merrifield, who struck out for the third time in four attempts this afternoon, but obviously Merrifield must lead off because he should get more plate appearances than every other Royal because he works hard or can play a bunch of positions passably or whatever other nonsensical justification there is for Merrifield getting to lead off or play too much.
Swarzak gave way to David Holmberg, a southpaw reliever who just got called up today when Nate Jones was placed on the 10-day disabled list. Holmberg stole a souped up DeLorean, traveled back to 2014, and induced an infield-fly-ball from the bat of Mike Moustakas. Holmberg then worked the count full to Lorenzo Cain and on the seventh pitch of the plate appearance, Cain smoked a double to the gap in left-center. Hosmer stroked his second single through the left side of the infield (yes, of course it was on the ground), and Cain scampered across for the third Royal run of the day. Pérez took the first pitch the other way and sent it to the warning track, but if a ball wasn’t hit over 110 MPH, it wasn’t leaving the yard this afternoon. The Royals had shaved the deficit to 8-3, but this isn’t 2014 or 2015.
Herrera pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, pitching because he hadn’t pitched since April 30 and hadn’t had a save opportunity since April 19.
Tommy Kahnle threw baseballs for Chicago in the ninth. It took him five pitches, but Kahnle put Gordon aboard with a walk to kick things off. Fortunately for Kahnle, Bonifacio grounded sharply to third, a tailor-made double play ball. With two outs, down five, Escobar was given the gift of a 3-1 count and tried to club a five-run home run on a two-seamer well inside, but they don’t exist and neither do Escobar walks nor games in which the 2017 Royals can come back from 7-0 deficits.
The Royals lost. It’s what they do now. A lot. With a chance to leave the Blue Jays as the only team still needing a tenth win on the season, the Royals elected to wait until tomorrow, or whenever. Who needs to win when you’re having fun?