In the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month of April, the Kansas City Royals scored a pathetic 2.73 runs per game. It was historically bad; everyone was stone cold and the Royals, as a result, ended the month with seven wins and 16 losses. In May, the Royals scored a rather normal 3.96 runs per game, and were significantly more successful.
This June, the Kansas City offense has continued to get exponentially better. The Royals are scoring 6.1 runs per game in their 11 games this month. One of those games was tonight’s thrashing of the once-proud San Fransisco Giants in an 8-1 beatdown.
After Brandon Crawford squeezed a sacrifice fly out of Jason Vargas in the second inning, scoring Buster Posey and giving the Giants a 1-0 lead, the Royals offense did their ‘Keep the Line Moving’ thing that has worked so well in their 2015 World Series year—and their 2014 American League Championship year, where they faced these Giants in the World Series. Against San Francisco starter Ty Blach, Alcides Escobar singled on a ground ball. Alex Gordon stepped up to the plate and singled on another ground ball, this one a ricochet off second baseman Eduardo Nunez.
To complete the trifecta of poorly-hit balls, Vargas bunted in an attempt to move Escobar and Gordon over, but did one better: a very nicely-placed bunt split the pitcher and third baseman and resulted in no throw. With the bases loaded, Whit Merrifield popped out, but Jorge Bonifacio bailed him out with a two-run single up the middle. That gave the Royals a 2-1 lead, a lead which they would not relinquish.
Furthermore, that would not be the only time the Royals would see the bases loaded. In the sixth inning, singles by Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas loaded the bases with one out. Escobar then doubled on a sharp ground ball to the right field corner, scoring Cain and Hosmer. Because National League baseball is dumb, Blach intentionally walked Gordon to get to Vargas. Vargas struck out, because he’s a pitcher and that’s what usually happens.
But Vargas’ job is not to hit; rather, his job is to pitch. And pitch he did. Vargas made every individual who has ever owned the title ‘crafty lefty’ proud. As has so often happened in 2017, Vargas utilized a nifty changeup to completely neutralize the opposing lineup, and he refused to give away free passes or easy plate appearances. Vargas ended the night with seven innings pitched, only allowing one lone run on six strikeouts, one walk, and five hits. Vargas only dealt with more than one runner on base in one frame, the seventh, but no runs came from it.
Vargas’ strikeout (the kind with him at the plate) the inning prior yielded yet another bases loaded situation to a real life hitter, Merrifield, and Merrifield responded by knocking a line drive to right field off newly-inserted reliever Cory Gearrin. Hunter Pence assisted Merrifield with a poorly-judged drive a la Jorge Soler, Willia Bloomquist, or Jeff Francoeur. The result: a triple, three more runs, and a 7-1 lead. Bonifacio put the cherry on top with a single to score Merrifield and make it 8-1.
The 8-1 score would stick. Travis Wood pitched two scoreless innings, and the Giants’ Hunter Strickland and Sam Dyson staunched the bleeding by shutting off the Royals free-flowing supply of runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
The Royals now stand at 29-34. They have won three in a row since they won four straight on May 11 through 14. They are 7-4 in the month of June. Tomorrow, Kansas City will face San Francisco once again before going elsewhere in California to face the Angels.