Maybe it was because of the ugly uniforms that made it difficult to tell who was even batting or fielding at a given moment. Maybe it was the fact that all of the Royals’ scoring was contained to the third inning. Maybe it was the utter lack of offense - which is different from dominant pitching - offered by both lineups. Whatever the reason, this is not a game I would want to show to anyone as evidence that baseball is an exciting sport.
The most exciting play of the game could have occurred when Delino DeShields Jr. hit a top-spin line drive to center and Whit Merrifield dove for it. Whit missed the catch but managed to keep the ball in front of him and held DeShields to a single. If Whit had let the ball go by him DeShields probably would have had an inside-the-park home run. That would have been interesting. But he didn’t so it wasn’t.
Ian Kennedy had a perfectly bland 5-inning start where he allowed 2 runs while striking out 4. Bartolo Colon’s start was more interesting by sheer virtue of Big Sexy being on the mound. The fact that a 45-year-old man can fool the best baseball hitters in the world armed only with a 2-seam fastball that sits somewhere between 86-88 MPH continues to be amazing every day. The line, though, wasn’t anything special. 7 innings with 5 strikeouts and 3 runs allowed. The relievers weren’t any better.
Only one batter on each team even managed to get more than one hit. There were few impressive pitches, fewer impressive at-bats. The defense for both teams was solid but unspectacular. Even the hardest hit balls appeared to be right at fielders or otherwise died before they could do much of anything interesting.
The game was so boring, in fact, that on three separate occasions batters decided against making even vague attempts to continue playing. Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded out to Salvador Perez while standing at home in the bottom of the seventh, Nomar Mazara chose not to go to first after striking out on a ball that got away from Perez to lead off the eighth, and Ryan Goins joined in the fun to finish off the Royals half of the ninth inning when he grounded out to Rangers first-baseman Ronald Guzman while standing at home plate. Each was a stunning display of a batter completely unprepared to run to first for any reason.
The only thing worse than a thoroughly unexciting game in a season in which the number of wins only matters abstractly toward next years’ draft position is a thoroughly unexciting game that is not content to give up after 9 innings. This, of course, was one of those games.
Things did a get more exciting in the tenth inning, thankfully. The Royals presented a clinic on difficult-to-field groundballs - a slow roller to third, a high chopper over the pitcher’s mound, and a well-struck ball deep into the hole at short - and the Rangers replied deftly with three terrific plays to convert them into outs.
Shin-Soo Choo mercifully put the game out of its misery with a solo home run to left-center while leading off the bottom of the inning. Oddly enough, after all the seemingly well-struck flyballs that died and landed in gloves, this ball appeared to be a routine out initially before eventually landing in the bleachers.
The Royals will attempt to salvage a series tie, tomorrow, when Jason Hammel will take the mound for the Royals against Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels in a matchup that will in absolutely no way challenge Royals announcers Rex Hudler or Steve Physioc.