Behind five double plays and a surgical pitching performance by Jason Vargas, Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, and Mike Minor, the Kansas City Royals handed the Detroit Tigers their eighth consecutive loss by beating the big cats 2-1.
Though the Royals accrued ten baserunners, eight via hits and two walks, they sprinkled them throughout the game enough that they did not convert into a parade of runs. This was particularly surprising, as pitching for the Tigers was Anibal Sanchez, whose ERA is closer to accurately designating the newest numbered iPhone than league average.
Kansas City’s two runs came in back-to-back innings. In both the fourth and fifth innings, the Royals got their leadoff man on and shuffled him around the bases to score through some productive outs. But in both cases, Sanchez clamped down and disallowed the Royals from breaking the game open.
From a pitching perspective, the Royals did some great work against a Tigers club in a total tailspin. Kansas City handed Detroit its eighth-consecutive loss, dropping them to an appalling 4-21 record in September. Vargas was Chief Surgeon, calmly tossing six innings. He did not allow a single extra base hit. But equally important was his bullpen trio backing him up. Herrera looked vintage in the seventh inning, striking out two. Soria coaxed the team’s fourth double play in the eighth inning, and Minor did the same with by netting the team’s fifth double play in the ninth inning.
But over in Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, the Minnesota Twins delivered the final gut punch to the Royals. Through their victory over the Cleveland Indians tonight, Twins eliminated the Royals from postseason play. It is the second consecutive year in which the Royals have missed the postseason.
And that is sad, because it spells the beginning of the end for this squad. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas, and Alcides Escobar will all become free agents at the end of the season. There is no scenario in which the Royals re-sign all five.
So tonight we witness the beginning of the end of the Second Golden Age Royals, who have five home games left to close out their reign.
Almost three and a half years ago, I wrote my first post for Royals Review, a recap of a boring 9-3 loss to the Houston Astros. I led with this:
Historical royals often exercised their sovereignty from thrones made of wood, stone, ivory, and sometimes gold. The Kansas City Royals, unfortunately, instead seem intent on emulating what is usually found inside thrones of the porcelain variety.
Since then, the Royals have won a metric poodleton of playoff games, and have multiple flags that are flying in the outfield with cool phrases like ‘champions’ and ‘World Series’ on them.
That group will be gone in a few months. My next recap will be of a team with different players and, so it will feel, a different soul.
Enjoy the next five games, Royals fans.