Coming into tonight, the Royals had won precisely zero games in which they trailed by three or more runs—with a whopping 32 losses. In San Francisco, the Royals added a number to the second column, falling to 0-33 when trailing by three or more runs. They lost to the Giants and fell to a blood-curdling 20-41 on the season. Yuck.
Now, we all know that there are deep institutional problems with the Royals, but we can still highlight individual performances. Kris Bubic was one such performance. After getting sent down to Triple-A because he was, um, getting absolutely destroyed on the mound, he has rebounded somewhat. We saw that tonight, when he absolutely cruised through the first five innings of the game.
Part of the reason Bubic was cruisin’ was because he was pumping some heat. The traditionally soft tossing lefty maxed out at 96.6 MPH tonight, throwing six pitch at 95 MPH or higher and 11 pitches at 94 MPH or higher. I distinctly remember an interview he gave after getting crushed early on and pulling it together where he basically said “after they got me enough I said ‘screw it, I’m gonna throw as hard as I can’” and you know what? That works! It certainly worked tonight, where he accrued six strikeouts against only a pair of walks.
Also, Bobby Witt Jr. made this nifty play behind him.
Anyway, one of the reasons why the Royals are winless after getting down three or more runs is that their pitching is just awful top-to-bottom. Bubic gave up two runs and left runners on the corners with one out in the sixth inning, leaving the bullpen with no margin for error. Dylan Coleman notched a strikeout, but right before that Tommy La Stella hit a fly ball deep enough in right field to score Joc Pederson to make it the stunning 3-0.
The Royals tried to claw back—they scored two in the eighth inning when the top of the order finally came through, the second run coming off a Salvador Perez line drive single. He, as the announcers always say, didn’t try to do too much.
But this is a Royals game, so it’s two steps forward and one step back. Josh Staumont walked a pair in the eighth inning and Scott Barlow hit Brandon Belt with a pitch, and when you give three free passes you can’t expect the other team not to score. Sure enough, the Giants came through with a line drive.
The Royals threatened in the ninth but didn’t come through. I will say: what Carlos Santana has done in the last month or so has been nothing short of amazing. Even though his power has completely evaporated, he has an OPS north of .800 since May 20. Tonight, he had a pair of singles and a walk, with the walk kicking off the ninth inning. But Kyle Isbel hit the ball hard but not far away enough from the outfielder, Ryan O’Hearn struck out, and Nicky Lopez and his career 77 wRC+ couldn’t get a hit, funny enough.
All in all, this was a rather normal game to lose. The 2014 Royals lost plenty of games like this, where the other team was just better enough to win. The problem is that this game has been surrounded by games in which the other team was just so hugely better than the Royals at every facet of the game. Oh well, I guess. Eat Arby’s.