In the previous three games, the Kansas City Royals struck out like it was their mission. Worse, they were unable to accrue many walks—they combined for 42 strikeouts and seven walks. Tonight, the Royals continued their flaccid plate appearances, adding eight strikeouts and walking exactly zero times. Overall, that makes for 50 strikeouts and seven walks over their last four games. That will generally lead to offensive struggles and losses and, lo, both have occurred.
Tonight, despite some power from a collection of younger players, the Royals parlayed poor plate discipline into a 6-3 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Whit Merrifield provided the initial burst of offense for Kansas City with a moonshot of a home run that bounced off the left field foul pole. Other than Merrifield’s homer, though, the Royals could not get any traction for much of the game. Ryan O’Hearn continued his impressive power display with a double in the fifth inning, but two baserunners through the first six innings is no way to win baseball games.
For his part, Royals starter Jake Junis was pretty good. Though the sophomore righty has struggled more in 2018 than he did last year, he has been a perfectly serviceable player, especially for a pitching-starved Royals team. Tonight, Junis churned through five innings while allowing only two runs. His team, however, betrayed him in the sixth. With one out and one on, Merrifield bobbled what would have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, Carlos Gomez drove in Willy Adams on a sacrifice bunt, and with two outs, newly-inserted Tim Hill promptly coughed up two more hits to balloon the lead to 4-1.
Kansas City’s listless offense struck back in the eighth inning. With one out, O’Hearn singled. The very next batter was Hunter Dozier, who celebrated his 27th birthday by absolutely crushing a pitch to straightaway center field for a two-run shot. The Royals got another extra base hit in the inning via Alcides Escobar’s ground rule double, but were unable to bring him home to tie the game.
And, well, that’s all she wrote. Jason Hammel promptly gave back those two runs via a collection of walks and hits, and the Royals predictably did not score in the bottom of the ninth. Go figure.
Tomorrow, the Royals will square off against the Rays for one more game, and will ostensibly play some other teams where they will probably lose more baseball games. Par the course for our 38-89 Royals (yeeeeeeshh).