Things looked bright for KC after one batter. Drew Rasmussen, fresh off a start that saw him allow only a single hit in 8.1 innings, walked the very first batter - catcher MJ Melendez - he saw today. That was also the last time things seemed to be going the Royals’ way.
Rasmussen’s defense gave up an error in the first, but neither runner could score. The Royals wouldn’t see another batter reach base until Melendez came back to bat in the sixth and hit a lead-off single. Bobby Witt Jr. followed with a double and then Salvador Perez hit a sacrifice fly. Vinnie Pasquantino lined a single into center to finish cutting the deficit in half but that was the closest the Royals came to leading the game after the third inning.
It’s really unfortunate that the offense continued it’s disastrous slump because the pitching could have been much worse. After all the praise I heaped upon Kris Bubic in the game thread, he had nothing working today. He had trouble controlling his pitches and even when he did place them well, the Rays seemed to know exactly what do. In the end, he struck out none, walked two, and allowed four runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings. Give Bubic credit for battling, but even on a day like this, you’d like to see him do a little bit better.
Things easily could have been worse without excellent defense by KC and poor baserunning from the Rays, too. Randy Arozerena cut short a scoring opportunity in the first inning by trying to go first-to-third on a single with one out; Michael A. Taylor nailed him with help from an excellent tag by Bobby Witt Jr. The Royals bullpen was on top of things today; Collin Snider and Jose Cuas had scoreless outings. Carlos Hernandez pitched the final two innings and did allow a run in the bottom of the eighth but struck out one and walked none. It was a much better performance than most he’s given this year.
- Witt Jr.’s double was his twentieth of the season. That leaves him behind only Hunter Dozier among active Royals.
- Melendez’s walk was his 45th, which leads the team. Hunter Dozier is the next closest with 30 among active Royals.
- Speaking of Dozier, after a reasonably good start, he’s been slumping badly enough that his season wRC+ is now 98. He’s been getting less and less playing time of late and even with his multi-year deal I have to wonder if the writing is on the wall for the end of his time in Kansas City.
- Despite his earlier struggles, Vinnie Pasquantino now has the highest wRC+ on the team - active or not - at 131 and has been worth 0.9 fWAR in only 46 games for KC. That’s a three-win pace over a full season. It’s just too bad that Dozier (-0.4 in 99 games) and Carlos Santana (0.3 in 52 games) were sucking up all of the available playing time earlier in the season.
The Royals will get a chance to even the series tomorrow afternoon at 12:40 PM CDT. Zack Greinke will take the mound for KC, looking to build on his strong start against Minnesota last time out. The Rays have not yet announced a starting pitcher for tomorrow’s game.