When a last-place team like the Kansas City Royals loses to an only slightly less bad Chicago White Sox club by the score of 8-0, it is probably safe to assume that there wasn’t a lot that went right for Ned Yost’s club.
In his major-league debut, Trevor Oaks struggled mightily with the one thing that has been his calling card as he’s ascended through the minors. Fueled largely by his sinker, keeping the ball down in the zone has always been the key to Oaks’s success. Today, Oaks left a bunch of pitches up.
With his sinker not sinking, things honestly could have been much worse than they ended up being, especially with the Pale Hoes hanging dong at the K like their dongage has an expiration date on it and it needs to be spent. He still allowed 12 hits, but ten of them were singles, and the two extra-base-hits were merely doubles.
Broken down into innings, Oaks really only got into serious trouble in the fourth, where four runs came across to score, turning a tight 1-0 game into a 5-0 laugher with no hope for the anemic Royals.
As the singles parade got underway with back-to-back weakly struck singles from Tim Anderson and alleged serial killer Daniel Palka (this picture clearly captures Palka in his old-timey prison pajamas with a hat photoshopped onto his head—there have been rumblings that he was playing in the California Penal League last year), Leury García went small ball on the Royals asses. Oaks fielded the well-placed bunt and uncorked a throw that pulled Lucas Duda off the bag. Yoán Moncada followed with a grounder to Alcides Escobar. Escobar turned and threw to Whit Merrifield at the bag at second, but García beat the throw to the bag, and the Pail Hoes had their second straight infield single, this one driving in a run.
With the bases juiced still thanks largely to dumb luck, Yolmer Sánchez cranked an elevated 90-MPH two-seamer on the outer third of the plate the other way, shooting it to the gap in left-center. Sánchez cleared the bases but was gunned down at third because Alex Gordon may be a shadow of his former self at the plate, but the man can still gun fools down on the basepaths.
When the Royals’ highlight of the game is cutting down guy trying to stretch a three-run double into a triple, it’s safe to say things could be going better.
Of the baseball events that Oaks could arguably control, he issued just one walk while striking out four in five innings of work. Five runs were charged to Oaks, all of the earned variety. Things could certainly have been worse—RIP Eduardo Villacis—but that a rookie exiting his coming out party sporting a 9.00 ERA is cause for an accepting shrug probably means that the halcyon days of Vin Mazzaro, Jimmy Gobble, Chris George, and Sean O’Sullivan are upon us once more.
Generally speaking, five runs allowed would be more than enough to seal the deal for the Royals. Through 25 games, the Royals have scored more than five runs thrice. This afternoon, one run would have been enough to bury the Royals.
Some days the Royals put a bunch of runners aboard and strand them. Such was not the case in the first half of today’s doubleheader. Facing a Carson Fulmer whose 6.00 ERA entering the game appeared to be entirely earned judged against his 5.67 FIP and 5.75 xFIP, the Royals “offense” did virtually nothing against the former first-round pick. Allowing Fulmer to complete the longest start in his major-league career, the Royals managed just four hits and three walks against the Vanderbilt alumnus, striking out thrice over seven scoreless frames.
The Royals who managed the miraculous feat of getting on base this afternoon were as follows: Salvador Perez walked and “doubled” (García misplayed a liner to straight-away center, the ball glancing off his mid-leap glove), Jorge Soler singled and walked, Alex Gordon singled twice, Alcides Escobar walked again, and Jon Jay and Lucas Duda singled. Against the likes of Carson Fulmer and Chris Beck, one would hope for more production than that, but such hopes would have been woefully misplaced.
Finishing out a game pitched entirely by rookies, Eric Stout and Burch Smith pitched some, too. Stout left the game with two aboard in the top of the seventh, and Smith served up a dong to the real Golden State Killer, Daniel Palka. Three more runs scored there, but Smith settled down after that. In a situation with even a shred of hope, that could seem like damning a man with faint praise. Hope’s corpse is rotting under Daniel Palka’s porch.
The Royals stranded over a handful of runners, but even if they plated every runner they stranded, it would only have been enough to tie the game. In an 8-0 loss, there is plenty of blame to be shared. Nothing really went right, but at least some rookies got to pitch some more.
The loss marks the Royals’ fifth straight against the dismal Pale Hoes. It is also their fifth-straight loss overall and runs their record to a woeful 5-20.
To be 15 games under .500 at the 25-game mark is a spectacular feat. .200 ball is something to which Allard Baird clubs aspired. It’s good to see Dayton Moore got the Royals back there so quickly after a World Series win. Everyone needed a reality check. This is our world, Royals fans. Soon, that 2014-2015 fever dream will be so incongruous that it will not seem to have been possible.