With Vladimir Putin looking for any opportunity to assert Russian dominance in the sphere of sport, the arrival of the Kansas City Royals to St. Petersburg presents him with a unique, four-game opportunity to fuel the propaganda machine. Four games in which a once great team—one just a year removed from being World Series champions—comes to Mother Russia performing at levels dramatically worse than they were when they had vanquished all comers.
Now, as reports roll in that the Royals were subjected to hours-long waits at customs at Pulkovo Airport. Speculation ran rampant that the diligent customs agents pored over their belongings at the behest of the Russian President.
Frustrated and feeling uncharacteristically impotent after his attempts to sway the results of the French election fell significantly short this weekend, President Putin appears to have been pulling out all the stops, forcing the Royals to sit through his special cut of Rocky IV where Ivan Drago is reframed as the hero of the story (culminating in the defeat of American ego and excess presented in the vessel of Apollo Creed) while they waited with neither food nor drink detained at customs.
The series aligns itself thusly:
- Monday, May 8, 6:10 PM CDT - Nate Karns vs. Blake Snell (L)
- Tuesday, May 9, 6:10 PM CDT - Chris Young (?) vs. Matt Andriese
- Wednesday, May 10, 6:10 PM CDT - Jason Hammel vs. Chris Archer
- Thursday, May 11, 12:10 PM CDT - Jason Vargas (L) vs. Jake Odorizzi
Royals at Devil Rays pitching matchups
|Blake Snell (L)||6||31.1||27||19.3||21||15.0||3.45||4.94||5.14||5.31||0.1||-0.3|
|Chris Young (?)||7||10.2||7||13.2||4||7.6||4.22||4.31||5.27||4.57||0.0||-0.2|
|Jason Vargas (L)||6||37.2||35||23.8||7||4.8||1.19||2.12||3.49||3.45||1.4||1.9|
These four St. Petersburg hurlers lay down their hammers and sickles to serve Mother Russia. The added wrinkle that Karns and Odorizzi are turncoats in this battle only fans the flame of nationalistic fervor.
Devil Rays position players
|Steven Souza Jr.||RF||136||4||14||19||0||.284||.385||.457||.369||143||1.4||1.5|
|Corey Dickerson (L)||DH/LF||124||6||14||11||0||.304||.350||.539||.377||148||1.0||1.3|
|Logan Morrison (L)||1B||110||7||15||18||0||.263||.364||.516||.379||150||0.8||0.9|
|Kevin Kiermaier (L)||CF||139||1||15||6||5||.205||.297||.270||.259||65||0.2||0.8|
|Brad Miller (L)||2B||131||1||16||10||3||.190||.351||.305||.302||95||0.2||0.3|
|Rickie Weeks Jr.||1B/DH||60||1||8||3||0||.163||.317||.286||.284||82||0.1||0.2|
|Colby Rasmus (L)||LF||15||1||2||3||0||.154||.267||.385||.287||84||0.0||0.1|
As a squad, the Russian nine are hitting a combined .235/.323/.393 with a .314 wOBA and 104 wRC+. The 6.0 fWAR they’ve amassed make them the fourth-best group of position players in baseball through the season’s first five weeks. Vladimir Putin must be proud.
This series preview brought to you by StubHub.
Whether you’re a baseball junkie or casual fan, games are better at the ballpark. Grab seats at StubHub and be part of the action at Kauffman Stadium. And, download the StubHub app to choose the perfect seats with 360* views from your section.
How will the Royals fare in Russia?
This poll is closed
Royals sweep, winning four for America
Royals take three of four, a modest victory for America
Royals and Rays split series, keeping the war cold
Rays win three, Putin only sends half the team to a gulag
Rays sweep, Putin erects statue in his own honor with footnote about the series