If the Royals wanted to make gains on their fanbase in Missouri, tonight’s game would not be one to show prospective converts.
After two-and-a-half quiet innings, the Cardinals strung together a two-out rally, recalling the Royals days of yore, getting back-to-back-to-back singles from Matt Carpenter, José Martínez, and Marcell Ozuna. The Ozuna single was augmented by a Jorge Soler boner in right, plating Carpenter. The Soler gaffe proved immaterial with the next batter, as Ian Kennedy left a 2-1 four-seamer just a little too much in the middle of the plate—as Ian the Red is wont to do—to rookie Tyler O’Neill. The kid muscled it into the bullpen in right, plating three, running the Cardinals lead to 4-0.
The bottom of the fifth saw the former Mariners farmhand—Jerry Dipoto dealt Tyler O’Neill for southpaw Marco Gonzales last summer for reasons—drive in another run, deepening the damage done by the Mariners in the Battle for Grass Creek without the sworn enemies even facing one another. This time O’Neill doubled in Ozuna. 5-0, Cardinals.
To the watchful but unindoctrinated reader, the absence of any mentions of the Royals offense could read as conspicuous. Of course, said reader would also likely not be familiar with the pervasive futility of this offense.
Facing the zone-pounding Miles Mikolas, the Royals’ bats were thoroughly outclassed. The Royals managed just five baserunners in the first seven innings, Whit Merrifield getting hit by a pitch, and Jon Jay, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Pérez, and Ian Kennedy (of course) singling.
Generally speaking, Ian Kennedy is pitching on the wrong team if he’s hoping that ceding five earned runs might not put him on the hook for a loss. This held true tonight. Kennedy lasted 5.2 innings, getting pulled with a runner at second with Ned Yost emerging from the dugout to finger the Pride of Blue Springs, Jason Adam.
Adam did not allow the inherited runner to score, but in the bottom of the seventh, he served up a first-pitch four-seamer in the heart of the zone to Matt Carpenter. Carpenter connected for his third hit of the night, this one of the hung dong variety.
After Mikolas nearly finished out the complete game by sending down the last 16 Royals he faced in order, Mike Moustakas worked the near-miraculous drawing just the sixth walk Mikolas has allowed on the year, ending Mikolas’s consecutive Royals retired streak at 15. Small victories?
Mikolas went nine innings, striking out nine, walking one, hitting another, and allowing four singles. If Mikolas hadn’t been this good all year, it would be tempting to be flippant about the woeful offensive performance by the Royals. Instead, this played out about as one would have predicted.
The loss puts the Royals’ record at 14-33. That’s bad. The win runs the Cardinals’ record to 26-19