The bottom of the lineup came up in the ninth inning, and the losing streak being extended to double-digits seemed inevitable. Then, somehow, just this once, things were different for the Kansas City Royals.
THEY FINALLY WON A GAME WHEN THE OPPONENT SCORED A RUN!
The Royals beat the Tigers, 3-2, behind a ninth-inning rally that ended a nine-game losing streak. It just goes to show that even the worst of Royals teams still can’t be held down by the joy that is the Detroit Tigers bullpen.
Earlier in the day, Jason Hammel was screwed once again by a terrible offensive performance, throwing nine innings and giving up just two runs yet not getting a win. The Royals lost in extra innings after going 0-for with runners in scoring position.
Entering the ninth inning tonight, the Royals had 22 baserunners in the two games and it only produced three total runs. Then the light switch came on.
Ryan Goins, Alcides Escobar, and Abraham Almonte had three straight hits in a row. Do you have any idea how the hell rare that is? It was impossible to fathom entering the inning, and now that I’ve actually seen it happen, I’m still skeptical that it happened. Almonte’s at bat was actually really good, as he hung in there for a long battle before blooping a single right in front of the right fielder. It tied the contest, 2-2.
Right after that, Jon Jay, who was way beyond due after struggling all night, hit a slow-roller to first base, but the play was botched by Niko Goodrum. He bobbled the ball and then fired it over the head of the pitcher covering first, which allowed Escobar to fly around third and score. 3-2, Royals.
Jakob Junis was so so so good, too. In a season-high 8 innings, he allowed just four hits and two runs. He struck out four Tigers. Through four starts, his ERA is a sterling 2.03. Thanks to the offense’s big rally, he is 3-1 on the year. It’s kind of amazing that the team is 4-14 and Junis has three wins.
Something to think about: Royals starting pitchers threw 17 innings in two games today. Hammel and Junis were both spectacular, but only one of them is getting the marginal run support this offense is capable of providing.
Kelvin Herrera, because he is the team’s biggest badass, continued his electric start to the season by blowing away the Tigers in the ninth inning. He showed off 98 and 99 mph heat with ease while working around a pinch-hit single by Miguel Cabrera. It is his third save of the year in as many chances.
Here are the other scoring plays:
In the third, Jose Iglesias hit an RBI single to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. Whit Merrifield tied the contest with a homer to left in the fifth. And then in the seventh, Detroit broke the tie when JaCoby Jones hit a sacrifice fly.
The bottom of the lineup is seriously so damn bad that I don’t think words can do it justice. Paulo Orlando, Alcides Escobar, Abraham Almonte, Drew Butera, and whoever the hell else makes up the 6-7-8-9 in most of the team’s games are all hitting .209 or worse. The first five hitters are usually pretty competent, but once you get to the No. 6 spot, everything just falls apart. It was such a struggle to watch all game long. And so of course, when it mattered most, they flipped a switch and made it all count.
Another note that I can’t put elsewhere: Jorge Soler didn’t start earlier in the day because... you just have to get Abraham Almonte’s bat in the lineup, I guess. In the nightcap, he had a double and two walks. It is inexcusable for him not to be playing every single day. Whether your goal is to win now or to win later, Soler needs to be playing. Luckily, when Alex Gordon comes back next week, I’d think Almonte would be the one to get DFA’d to make room.
Salvador Perez should come back next week and give this lineup a big jolt. It’ll give Mike Moustakas some legitimate protection in the batting order, and it’ll eliminate the backup catchers from hitting, which is one of your 6-7-8-9 “black holes.” Alex Gordon will return too, which honestly might negate the backup catcher back hole clearing by inserting himself back into the lineup. But hey, reports have said that he’s “hitting the ball well” in Omaha.
Up next: the series continues tomorrow. It’s Danny Duffy’s turn to take the mound. He will oppose Mike Fiers. First pitch is at 12:10 CDT. The Royals will try to win their first series of the season, but they’ll have to win the next two games to do so. Get hyped.