One week ago we congregated here to prepare for and discuss a game against a division rival in which the Royals planned to send Eric Skoglund - who once pitched a very nice game but has since failed to record a single out in the third inning in any major league start. The Royals were predictably slaughtered by the baseball team from Cleveland 12-0.
“But!” the optimists declared, “They’ve got 6 straight games coming against wild card rivals! They’ve got to come out of this offensive funk and remember how to pitch any day now! Maybe it will start tomorrow and we can rack up some wins against those teams!” It was true, as far as it went, but of course that’s not how things went down.
The Royals were slaughtered by Tampa Bay Monday night. They had a bounce-back victory Tuesday but then blew an opportunity Wednesday. On Friday they beat the Twins and it began to seem like perhaps there were signs of life in that offense after all; Moose even finally tied the home run record after two whole weeks of being short only a single dinger.
Then last night happened. A game so bad that our own Josh Duggan went ahead and posted the recap following the sixth inning. The Royals, a team ostensibly fighting for their playoff lives asked Onelki Garcia to make his first major league start. They could have attempted to trade for another starter - Miguel Gonzalez was had for someone 99% of baseball fans have never heard of and will never see again. But they didn’t. They could have skipped this spot in the rotation and gone straight to Ian Kennedy, today’s starter, and hoped that he could figure out what the heck has been wrong. No, Ian Kennedy would not have been a terrific choice, but he would at least have been a starting pitcher with major league experience and knowledge of what success in that role might look like. But they didn’t.
No, they went with Onelki. And then when he couldn’t record more than a single out they went to a pitcher who had never been higher than Rookie Ball before this season. He managed 2 outs. By the time Skoglund finished recording his first out - the first out of the third inning - the Royals were down by double digits.
Today they will send out Ian Kennedy. Ian has not been good since being injured early in the season. He’s already admitted that he’s so terrible he will be declining his opt-out and staying with the Royals for the next three years. The Twins will be sending their ace, Ervin Santana, to more or less try to end the Royals’ playoff hopes. 5.5 games back with fewer than 30 games to play is no way to try to make the playoffs.
The Royals can still get red hot. Mike Moustakas could start screaming at everyone in the dugout and the team could recover and play perfectly for the rest of the season. But if even perfect for the rest of the season is going to be good enough to get this core group of Royals one last shot at the playoffs it probably needs to begin today.