It is mathematically impossible to win a baseball game by scoring zero runs—even if the other team forfeits. Today, the Kansas City Royals scored zero runs through eight innings on a whopping five baserunners (a pair of walks and three singles) against the Minnesota Twins. It was the core reason that they lost.
However, the worst part about the whole offensive performance is probably that, with two outs in the ninth inning and the whole lede and title of my recap already written, they pushed across two garbage time runs. As a result, it ruined my carefully-constructed snark but didn’t even result in a win, losing 6-2 instead of 6-0. How dare they.
Anyway, let’s try to salvage some of this. Boo.
The Royals’ limp offensive performance was particularly ill-timed because Brad Keller turned in a vintage Keller performance. Propelled by a nasty slider that generated 15 swings and misses, Keller cut through the Twins lineup with very little resistance. In his 6.1 innings, Keller allowed two earned runs. One was a Max Kepler home run on a decent fastball down and in that Kepler just turned and ripped into right field. The other run was off a single by Trevor Larnach to score Luis Arraez, who had advanced to second base on a wild pitch from Keller and again to third on a “steal” after Hunter Dozier left third base wide open on a shift.
In addition to the lack of whiffs, Keller’s other problem this year has been a lack of control. And though Keller did hit one batter, he was sharp and commanded his pitches well all day. His only two walks came against Miguel Sano, who repeatedly and impressively refused to swing at perfectly located sliders just below the zone in two-strike counts.
The same skill cannot be said for the asleep-at-the-wheel Royals offense. Twins starter Kenta Maeda completely dominated the Royals in his six no-score innings, notching ten strikeouts against only one walk despite (or perhaps because of) throwing many breaking and offspeed pitches out of the strike zone.
Maeda began the game by walking Whit Merrifield and not exactly looking particularly sharp. But in his first game back from the Injured List, left fielder Andrew Benintendi swung at a clear ball two and ball three to ground out, Carlos Santana didn’t properly connect on a juicy mistake pitch, and Salvador Perez struck out swinging.
That first inning was a microcosm of the Royals’ offense against Maeda. They did not do anything against mistake pitches when they got them, they kept swinging wildly out of the zone, and they just ended up striking out a lot. The Royals managed only three baserunners against Maeda—two singles, one from Jarrod Dyson and one from Sebastian Rivero—and precisely zero baserunners from innings three through six.
Richard Lovelady and Anthony Swarzak coughed up a combined four runs in the seventh and ninth innings, respectively, but with a lacking offense there was not a whole lot that could be done.
After today’s loss, the Royals stand 35-48 and are on pace for 94 losses on the year. Anyway, for those of you who are going to blow up fireworks today, please do so carefully and respectfully. Happy Fourth.