Fresh from facing a baseball team from Chicago, the Kansas City Royals turned around to play the other baseball team from Chicago in the first game of a split four-game series with the Cubs, with two games at Wrigley Field and two at Kauffman Stadium. But despite the team’s best start all season thanks to the left arm of Danny Duffy and some gnarly bullpen work by Josh Staumont, the Royals’ bats were unable to capitalize on their opportunities and lost 2-0.
But let’s start with Duffy. Throughout his decade-long career with the Royals, Duffy has developed a reputation as an above average starting pitcher whose struggles with pitch efficiency, inconsistency, and latter-inning woes have prevented him from being truly great. Indeed, that has been the case for the two previous Duffy starts, and it almost was tonight as well. However, Duffy squeezed through a stressful fifth inning with minimal damage to turn in a great outing.
Through the first four innings, Duffy was sharp. Though he wasn’t locating his fastball quite as well as he could have, Duffy’s changeup and slider were working great, and he struck out five Cubs over that time.
The fifth inning then began in classic Duffy meltdown fashion. Duffy walked Nico Hoerner to lead off the inning and then yielded a single to Ian Happ. Another walk to Kris Bryant earned Duffy a mound visit. Fortunately, Duffy induced a harmless popup from Anthony Rizzo for the first out and then coaxed an almost-as-harmless sacrifice fly from Javier Baez. The inning ended with a routine grounder to third base that Maikel Franco, Jose Guillen of the Infield, was determined to ruin with an awkwardly short throw. Ryan O’Hearn saved it with, dare we say it, a Hosmeresque pick.
Duffy notched his sixth and final strikeout in the sixth inning in a clean frame. While he did walk four, the Cubs only managed three hits against him while looking awfully uncomfortable at the plate.
It is at this point in the recap where I must address the offense. I would really rather not, but I’ll try to sum my feeling sup with a few seconds of video:
The Royals came up to bat 35 times in the game and got on base eight times, for an on base percentage of .229. That will not play. Kansas City did have multiple runners on base in the first and second innings, but the law firm of Cordero, Phillips, and Whitley was unable to drive them in.
In the seventh inning, Ian Kennedy gave up the second run of the game—Bryant’s first home run of the year. So it goes sometimes with the juiced ball, but no one was on base, and thanks to the Royals offense tonight it was overkill. Otherwise, the highlight of the bullpen was easily Josh Staumont, who, and I cannot emphasize this enough, destroyed the three Cubs he faced for three strikeouts.
Staumont gets Schwarber on a sword⚔️ pic.twitter.com/cq3sJr6h9l— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) August 4, 2020
Franchy Cordero made the ninth inning somewhat watchable. With one out, Cordero rifled a single into center field (off the bat at 102 MPH) and stole second base. But neither Franco nor Alex Gordon could get their pop flies even out of the infield, and the game ended there.
The Royals are 3-8, and have lost four in a row and six of their last seven. They face the Cubs again in Wrigley tomorrow before returning to Kauffman Stadium to face the Cubs