For awhile, it looked like the Royals were going to do the unthinkable: beat the Texas Rangers. Dating back to last June, Texas had beaten Kansas City an unfathomable 10 times in a row. They’ve beaten the Royals in blowouts, on walk-offs, in shootouts, and in comebacks.
Just add tonight’s “got no-hit for awhile and then came alive” win to the list.
The Royals lost, 5-3, for their fourth straight overall defeat. They have fallen back to .500 at 44-44.
Jason Hammel, who normally soils himself early, waited several innings to soil himself tonight. Of course, the soiling-prone Hammel shouldn’t have even been on the mound. Ned Yost starting the Royals’ worst regular starter in the first game post-All Star break is nothing short of ridiculous. Why on earth aren’t Danny Duffy and Jason Vargas the first two arms of the second half? Duffy should have started tonight. It might not have mattered, but it was horrible strategy that should not be overlooked.
Things looked like they were going to go the Royals way early. In the second inning, Alcides Escobar hit a two-run homer to left. Then in the fifth, Jorge Bonifacio singled in Whit Merrifield to make the score 3-0. At this point, Hammel (not Danny Duffy, who should have started) was throwing a no-hitter, and the crowd of 35,591 was making lots of noise.
Then came the Hammel pants-soiling that we all knew was coming. It occurred in the sixth inning. He entered the frame with a no-hitter intact. He didn’t make it out of the inning.
With one out, he gave up an infield single. Then a well-struck single. Then Adrian Beltre hit a three-run homer off the meatball-chucking, mullet-sporting Hammel. Following another single, he was yanked from the game after 5.2 innings.
Hammel truly is a reincarnation of Luke Hochevar as a starting pitcher. Look, I’m not expecting Hammel to throw no-hitters. I’m asking him to not completely melt every time his offense gives him a multi-run lead. And I know that aside from two swings, the Royals’ offense was pathetic tonight. But a 3-0 lead entering the sixth inning used to be lock-it-down-and-throw-away-the-key territory for this squad as little as two years ago. Now, it seems like no lead is safe, which is something we’ve been spoiled rotten to never expect.
Mike Minor put out Hammel’s (should have been Duffy’s) fire to end the sixth, thanks to a truly incredible play by Alcides Escobar, who ran about 100 feet into foul territory and slid for a diving catch. Unfortunately, Minor gave up a pinch-hit, two-run homer to Mike Napoli in the seventh, which put Texas ahead 5-3. And that was that.
Some of the stats the Royals offense posted are terrible. Alex Gordon’s slugging and OBP are back under .300. Eric Hosmer did his thing with two groundouts (one of which was a double play), a popout, and an infield “single.” Jorge Soler is absolutely, positively atrocious, as he’s down to .154 in 91 ABs this year. At least his lone strikeout of the night was swinging, which was a nice change of pace from the “watch strike three right down the middle” mindset we’ve grown used to. The team managed just eight hits, exactly zero of which came after the Rangers took the lead in the seventh inning. The final 11 Royals to bat were retired.
So yes, that is 11 straight Ls for the Royals against the Rangers.
Tomorrow, the Royals will look to even the series when they send Danny Duffy (did I mention he should have started tonight) to oppose Cole Hamels. That’s a good matchup.
Oh, and I just have to rant about one more thing before I wrap this up: get Steve Physioc the hell off Fox Sports Kansas City. Baseball is a fun, entertaining sport. The Royals are going to lose some games. That is okay. What’s not okay is listening to Steve Physioc mess up stat after player name after annoying cliche on this network. And in case that’s not enough, every damn time he’s on TV, the Royals lose! Last year, I believe they were 5-17 in games Physioc called on TV. Then again, it’s more like 0-22 because even when the Royals score more runs than their opponent, if Physioc calls the game, it’s still a loss. We all lose with Steve Physioc. People want to put him on the radio, but why do that to the poor souls that actually listen to the game on the radio? Put him in a room with no microphone and let him sit there.
Here’s my conclusion, which is the only possible one I can draw: the Royals keep putting Steve Physioc on television to create an extra incentive for fans watching on TV to come to Kauffman Stadium. The only way to escape his reign is to go to the games. And it’s working. I’m going to go to the rest of the Texas games because I will jump into a lake if I have to listen to that guy call any more Royals games.
End this madness, FSKC. And start Danny Duffy over Jason Hammel next time you get the chance to reset your rotation.