Despite facing a team clearly much better than them with a one-time staff ace who still seems to be trying to channel the spirit of Stella, the Kansas City Royals actually hung in this game until the eighth against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In fact, when the night was over for both of the game’s starters, the Royals had the lead.
Well, sort of.
Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano was not effective. Facing an almost entirely forgettable Royals lineup, Tropeano was doubled to death, ceding four two-baggers to Hunter Dozier, Mike Moustakas, Whit Merrifield, and Jorge Soler. In all, Tropeano served up nine hits and a walk en route to allowing five earned runs in 4.2 innings. After Jim Johnson closed the door on the Royals in the fifth with a Hunter Dozier strikeout on a borderline called third strike on the low edge of the strike zone, the Royals held a 5-2 lead.
The first Angel Danny Duffy faced in the bottom of the fifth was Justin Upton. This at-bat did not go well—dong was hung—but Duffy got through the rest of the inning without allowing another baserunner, leaving the score at 5-3 through five.
After wasting two one-out singles in the top of the six, the Royals needed to hold onto the hope that the Angels would do no further damage in the bottom of the sixth. Ned Yost sent Danny Duffy back out with 92 pitches to his name. Seven pitches and a Jefry Marte dong later (on a terrible changeup left in the heart of the strike zone), Yost was fingering Kevin McCarthy to preserve the 5-4 lead.
Preserve a lead McCarthy did not.
McCarthy started out all right, getting Martin Maldonado swinging, but Mike Scioscia elected to have Shohei Ohtani pinch-hit for [the other] Chris Young. The fleet-footed Ohtani hit a grounder just out of the reach of a shifted over Alcides Escobar that Whit Merrifield then flubbed fielding. Ohtani made it up the line so fast, that it’s hard to see how either Escobar or Merrifield actually gets him if either fielded it cleanly, but neither did so the question will never be answered in this timeline.
McCarthy followed the infield single he allowed with a five-pitch walk of Ian Kinsler. Mike Trout followed by ripping a single to Abraham Almonte—yes, he is still on the Royals—in center, plating the tying run in the form of Ohtani with Kinsler advancing to third on the throw to the plate. Justin Upton did McCarthy a favor, grounding into a force out to Mike Moustakas at third, with Moustakas gunning the throw home to get Kinsler comfortably. Unfortunately for the Royals, McCarthy didn’t get the memo about Albert Pujols no longer being good at baseball, and he let Pujols single back up the middle, driving in the go-ahead run.
With the score 6-5 Angels, Salvador Pérez smoke Noé Ramirez’s first offering, depositing 90.3 MPH heater on the black on the outside of the plate into the stands in left-center, causing Sir Isaac Newton to roll over at Westminster Abbey.
The Royals offense did nothing after the Pérez dong, but that 6-6 score held for a full inning before the Royals’ bullpen did what the Royals’ bullpen does. After a solid seventh inning from Jason Adam, the Royals turned to groundball machine Tim Hill. Hill immediately walked Martin Maldonado (something Maldonado has been loathe to do for a year and a half), who understandably got lifted for a pinch-runner, Kaleb Cowart. Because one walk is never enough, Hill issued another to Michael Hermosillo, a player whose name you are surely reading for the first time right now.
After getting Kinsler to strike out for the first out of the inning, Hill faced the unenviable task of trying to get Mike Trout out. Trout did not cooperate. Trout hit a comebacker that glanced off the glove of Tim Hill and then got past both Escobar and Merrifield, both of whom froze in place with neither making the requisite dive to keep the ball on the infield and frankly flubbing a shot at an out because neither made the play for the ball. Cowart raced around the bag at third and scored with ease on the Trout trickler—a Robert Ludlum novel soon to be adapted into a limited series on Netflix—that made it through.
Upton stroked a single to right, pushing Hermosillo across and sending Trout to third, and that brought out the hook. Yost fingered Burch Smith, who returned the favor by letting Pujols diddle a line-drive single to left. Trout scored on the Pujols single, but Justin Upton apparently forgot who Alex Gordon is and tried to go first-to-third on a line drive single to left. Gordon’s throw was obviously on the money, and Upton was thrown out at third. For the second out of the inning. Smith got Andrelton Simmons to ground into a force at second, but the damage was done. The Royals trailed 9-6 at the end of eight.
They did not come back.
Duffy’s night could have been worse than it was. After back-to-back encouraging starts, Duffy notched no strikeouts while walking three and giving up seven hits, two of which were dongs. He left with a lead, but it would be easy to argue he shouldn’t have. Tim Hill and Kevin McCarthy being tonight’s offenders from the bullpen was surprising, but it probably just meant it was their turn.
Oh, it should be noted that Jefry Marte was the Royal-beater tonight. 4-for-4? What? He’s Jefry Marte.
The loss drops the Royals record to 21-39. The Angels are now 33-28.