In the first game of today’s ice-forged doubleheader, the Kansas City Royals turned to rookie left-hander Eric Skoglund to try to start the series off on the right note. As has been the case for most of Skoglund’s young Royals career, the lanky southpaw was unable to stifle the opposing offense, in this case coming from the Toronto Blue Jays.
After Merrifield squandered a one-out walk by getting picked off and caught stealing to erase the Royals’ first-inning baserunner, the Blue Jays got the scoring started in the home half of the opening frame. Steve Pearce led the home half of the first off with a single. Three batters later, Skoglund grooved a full-count fastball to Yangervis Solarte. It left the park traveling 108 MPH with a 25-degree launch-angle. Mammoth dong. 2-0, Blue Jays.
The trio of Lucas Duda, Jorge Soler, and Cheslor Cuthbert singled to kick off the top of the second. There are few ways to end up not scoring at least one run when you load the bases and no outs. Jays’ hurler Jaime García induced a ground-ball double play from Paulo Orlando—which was enough to send Duda trotting home—but after Alcides Escobar did his best Alex Gordon impersonation and got hit by a 2-2 slider, Cam Gallagher ended the inning with a whimper, grounding into a force-out to third baseman Solarte.
Skoglund worked around a baserunner in each of the next three innings, and Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda hung back-to-back dongs of a most majestic manner in the top of the third to put the Royals ahead 3-2.
Cheslor Cuthbert got thrown out stealing in the fourth. Why Cuthbert would ever be allowed to move off a base without a ball being put in play is unfathomable.
That lead lasted until the bottom of the fifth, when Skoglund went back to Skoglunding and coughed up the lead. The Jays put five of their first six batters on base in that inning, pushing three runs across home plate in the process. Things could have been worse, too, had it not been for a stellar throw from Paulo Orlando nabbing Justin Smoak at third for the second out of the inning.
Skoglund’s day was done with his fifth inning. He struck out six, walked one, allowed eight hits—one being that massive Solarte dong—en route to yielding five runs, all earned.
The Royals trailed 5-3 when Ned Yost turned to the bullpen. The first pitcher Yost brought into the game was Blaine Boyer.
As is now known the world over, Boyer is kerosene granted corporeal form by some strange backwoods deity whose sole purpose was to trick the world into believing he was a capable pitcher while laying in wait for the Royals to sign him and immediately set fire to any game he entered wearing a Royals uniform.
Boyer record an out. He left with the bases juiced, having given up four hits (one another dong) and a walk. Cheslor Cuthbert threw an out away from his post at third base, airmailing a throw to first, perhaps to voice a protest at Boyer’s entering into the fray. The error didn’t matter much, as Boyer had no prayer of getting out of this inning. Boyer ceded six runs in total, two of which were earned, turning a disaster over to the next man Ned Yost fingered, Burch Smith. Smith allowed all three of the runners he inherited to score, but he allowed just one hit, a Kevin Pillar double, and actually pitched 1.2 serviceable innings, in which he allowed just three of his own baserunners. He walked one, hit one, allowed a double, and struck out two.
When the Royals were finally done dealing with the runners Blaine Boyer put on board, the score was 11-3. As tends to happen whenever Boyer enters a Royals game, all hope was extinguished.
The Royals dismal season trudges forward. They have yet to win a game in which they’ve allowed their opponents to score. Only the Cincinnati Reds have a worse record than the Royals 3-11 mark. That they’re not actually trying to tank is really pretty damning. This brand of baseball is a special kind of terrible that recalls Chip Ambres and Jason Grimsley and Ambiorix Burgos and Ken Harvey and Jimmy Gobble. This is Royals baseball.