It should be clear now, to all Royals fans, that this playoff race is Wild Card or bust.
The Cleveland Indians, clearly the best team in the AL Central, just smashed the Royals on Friday night, 10-1. Now 6.5 games behind the Indians in the division, it’s obvious that the Royals are playing for a Wild Card spot this year.
This was a game that featured Corey Kluber (good, has a Cy Young award) against Ian Kennedy (not good, serves as a gas can). It went how we all thought it would.
Cleveland scored three runs in the top of the first inning, thanks to home runs by Jason Kipnis and Jay Bruce. It didn’t get better for Kennedy, as he allowed two more runs just two innings later on a two-out RBI single by Yan Gomes.
That was all she wrote for Kennedy, who lasted just 2.2 innings. His eight outs matched the eight baserunners he allowed.
The Royals’ only run came on a solo homer by Brandon Moss, his 16th, which was an absolute moon shot. It was to dead center, clearing the second wall out there, and traveled 438 feet. It made the score 3-1 at the time, but the Indians got two more immediately afterwards, and the game was never close after that.
Cleveland piled on five more runs as the night went on. Bruce hit a second homer. Edwin Encarnacion hit one of his own. And Francisco Lindor, whom the Royals passed on to draft Bubba Starling, had an RBI hit. It was a joyful night at the K.
Simply put Kennedy is terrible. His ERA is now over 5.00. He took the loss, dropping him to 4-9 on the year. He set a Royals record with his 15th straight home start without a win. The Royals had a great opportunity to skip Kennedy this week thanks to yesterday’s off day. They could have started Jason Vargas on normal rest tonight and roll with Jake Junis tomorrow. Instead, they trotted Kennedy out there, and he proceeded to throw meatball after meatball. And don’t worry: they’ll do the exact same thing next week, which also features an off-day! Kennedy’s next start will be against the Rockies. Holy geez I quit.
Also, I have one more beef: Alex Gordon is the worst offensive player they’ve trotted out there every day in years. Yes, he is worse than Omar Infante. And Alcides Escobar. And even Chris Getz (look it up). He is a Kansas City legend, but you cannot keep doing this every day. Not with Jorge Bonifacio riding the pine on a regular basis. Gordon went 1-for-4, which raised his average back over .200, but it was a broken bat doink single that was almost an infield popout. He struck out looking - twice. You can’t keep throwing him out there if you want to stay competitive in any playoff race, especially without Salvador Perez.
Think of it this way: Jorge Bonifacio is essentially a league-average DH. Alex Gordon’s slash line is about what a pitcher’s looks like. They’re forfeiting a DH to hit a pitcher. That’s about what it’s like.
Tomorrow, the Royals will look to even the series. If you’re looking for some positivity, the pitching matchup is encouraging: Trevor Bauer against Jason Vargas. First pitch is at 6:15.
I think the Royals are a playoff team. I think they’re good enough. But if the starting pitching doesn’t get better, and by get better I mean get Ian Kennedy as few starts as possible, they’re going to fade in a quiet, painful way to close out this brilliantly successful era of Royals baseball.