With the chance to gain ground in the AL Central, the Royals offense was flat on Friday night, dropping the opener of a three-game series to the Cleveland Indians, 4-0.
I know that it's Wild Card or bust at this point, but any dreams of a division crown will die with a series loss this weekend. Tonight was not the way to start that series, as the Royals were dominated by Ryan Merritt.
You didn't know who the hell Ryan Merritt was until tonight, did you? Well, before today, he had won as many games as a starting pitcher as you, me, and everyone else reading this. And he shutout the Royals over 6.2 innings. Of course he did.
In front of roughly 820 fans in Cleveland, the Royals managed just five singles and three doubles. The Royals have not scored a run since the second inning of yesterday's contest, which means that their scoreless streak is now at 16 innings. The best scoring opportunity on Friday night came in the third inning, when Alex Gordon lined an opposite-field double to start the frame. Of course, zero runs came as a result, as the mighty Ryan Merritt (who on earth is RYAN MERRITT???) clamped down on the top of the order.
Gordon actually went 3-for-3, which was almost as shocking as the top three hitters going 0-for-12.
The Indians scored two runs in the third and two in the fifth against Jason Vargas, who has crashed back to earth and his ERA is rapidly approaching 4.0. Vargas lasted just five innings, allowing six hits and four runs while striking out two. Francisco Lindor hit a homer. Austin Jackson and Giovanny Urshela had RBI hits. Who cares.
Here are some other notes: Eric Hosmer had two more hits to improve his average to .320. His current slash is 320/383/503. That's remarkably good for a guy I openly criticize a lot. As a team, the Royals only struck out four times all night, so that tells you that putting the ball in play wasn't the problem.
It was one of the most forgettable games of the season for the Royals, but then again, most games against Cleveland are. Every single game in that park is just like this, I swear. Some boring pitcher you probably haven't heard of shuts down the offense, the Indians score a few runs in some uninteresting ways, and Cleveland wins. The Royals have played the Indians like 15 times this year and I don't remember a single thing about any of those games.
I may sound bitter, but that's because I am. The Indians are not that good. The entire AL Central is just watching them waltz to an AL Central title. The Royals have had their chances, and they've let them fall right through their fingertips.
Kansas City is 64-63. They're now seven games back in the division. I would tell you how far back that is in the Wild Card standings, but the entire league is the same record so it changes every 30 minutes.
Tomorrow: I think it's Jason Hammel against Mike Clevinger, who is another one of those Cleveland-starters-you've-never-heard-of-that-will-throw-seven-great-innings guys.