In an afternoon game at the K, the Tampa Bay Rays completed their sweep of the Kansas City Royals by defeating them with a score of 5-3. It was the Royals’ fifth consecutive loss.
In the past week or so, the Royals starters haven’t exactly been the best. Three of them gave up nine runs—nine!—in their start. One of them was Jason Hammel, and when he gave up three runs in the very first inning, Royals fans collectively groaned and thought ‘here we go again.’
But Hammel tightened up and turned in merely a bad outing as opposed to a truly awful one. After letting four baserunners reach in the first inning, Hammel turned in an easy one-two-three second inning. CJ Cron tagged Hammel for a solo home run in the third inning, and Wilson Ramos’ double play nevertheless scored another run. Giving up five runs in your start is definitely not doing your job, but if you do that you can, at the very least, churn through some innings. Hammel got through six of them.
The Royals offense had their chances, and for the most part did a pretty good job. Ned Yost’s Royals have historically been awfully walk-averse—a stat that is true this season as well, as Kansas City’s team walk rate of 7.5% ranks 27th out of 30 MLB teams—but the lineup accrued four bases on balls. Jay in particular was excellent and continued his great hitting streak and on base percentage by notching three hits and one of those walks as the leadoff man.
Unfortunately, sequencing doomed the Royals. Salvador Perez was hot garbage this afternoon, seeing more than two pitches in only one plate appearance: his first, a four-pitch strikeout that involved zero strikes. Perez saw a total of nine pitches and left a team-worst four men on base. That mostly difused the offense of Jay, Jorge Soler, and Mike Moustakas ahead of him, who were on base a combined seven times. Then, Alcides Escobar and Abraham Almonte made seven outs in eight tries, neutralizing Whit Merrifield, Alex Gordon, and Hunter Dozier, who were on base a combined five times.
Kansas City scored a run in the fourth inning and two in the fifth, but they have too many poor hitters to reliably score if they aren’t hitting dingers (which they weren’t).
Hunter Dozier continued to have good plate appearances, if you’re interested in some positive news. He worked his way into a few deep counts and continued striking the ball well, crushing a high fastball to 403 feet to right-center field that only wasn’t a home run because of Kauffman Stadium’s deep fences. Dozier was rewarded for his good plate appearances by the baseball gods via an infield hit in his last plate appearance of the night on a soft ground ball.
If you’re looking for more specifics—sorry? The Royals lost, again, and the game wasn’t particularly interesting, and no one really wants to know the exact specifics of a game that featured zero runs in the final four frames. Starting pitching was bad. The offense couldn’t get it done. Such is the life of a 13-30 baseball team.
Tomorrow is an off day, and then the Royals will host the New York Yankees, which cannot possibly go wrong in any way.