When things are going poorly, teams find ways to lose. The Royals have been working on their formula for a couple of weeks now, but tonight they added a new wrinkle: actually scoring runs, but still finding a way to drop a game.
Kris Medlen Makes Me Sad
A constant over this rough patch has been lousy starting pitching, almost every night. Kris Medlen, trying to bounce back from a disaster start against Washington last week, was not good once again. He gave up three hits in the first inning to load the bases, but escaped with minimal damage by allowing just a sacrifice fly. But after the Royals scored twice in the top of the second, Medlen kept the lead for approximately one minute. It took New York two hitters to tie the score. He managed to get a double play, but walked the next two guys to load the bases. Ned Yost, apparently also tired of this, had Brian Flynn warming up during the second inning. Medlen survived the second but after the third inning began with a double and a walk, Flynn was summoned. Medlen’s numbers for the year: six starts, 24 1/3 innings pitched, 30 hits, 20 walks, 18 strikeouts, a 2.05 WHIP, and a 7.77 ERA. He simply cannot be allowed to remain in the rotation, although with Dillon Gee taking Chris Young’s spot, I’m not sure what alternative the Royals have.
Make Lorenzo Cain Great Again
The Royals last year had a heck of a hitter in center field. Lorenzo Cain hit a career-high 16 home runs in 2015. But he had struggled mightily this season, although there were a few signs of life the last few days. The power hadn’t shown up much until tonight, though. Cain homered in the third, putting the Royals back in front, 3-2. After the Yankees retook the lead, Cain put the Royals on top with a three-run bomb in the fifth. And after the Yankees had once again retaken the lead, Cain led off the eighth with a home run to tie it. Cain had two home runs coming into this game, by the way. Pretty good night for at least one Royal. Oh, I shouldn’t forget Cheslor Cuthbert hitting a two-run home run in the second inning. That was pretty sweet.
Defense Doesn’t Slump, They Said
The Royals’ defense is a concern, too. Cain’s lone blemish on the night was a misplay in center field that allowed a run to score in the third inning. The play was not scored an error, but I hope you wrote that in pencil on your scorecard. It is possible that the runner in question would have scored on one of the groundouts that followed, though. However, the biggest mistake in this game was an error by shortstop Alcides Escobar on a very routine grounder in the decisive eighth inning. Instead of two outs, no one on, the Yankees had a runner at first with one down. A double, hit-by-pitch, and another double later, all off Kelvin Herrera, and the Yankees had their 10-7 lead. With Aroldis Chapman ready to fire bullets out of the bullpen, the game was over for all practical purposes.
Good Bullpen, Bad Bullpen, Ugly Bullpen
As part of the effort to make everything that made the Royals awesome the last two years crappy this year, the bullpen allowed six runs. Flynn allowed one in his two innings, although he also allowed the two runners he inherited from Medlen to score. Danny Duffy and Luke Hochevar were nails; each pitched a scoreless inning, with Hochevar striking out the side in his. Then poor Joakim Soria entered the game. He got the first man out, then allowed a soft single to Brian McCann. Carlos Beltran stepped in, and Soria appeared to strike him out. Not so fast! Second base umpire Will Little called a balk. Beltran grounded out, but another softly-hit single by Dustin Ackley brought McCann in to score. It looked like Alex Gordon had a great chance to nail McCann at home, but the throw sailed well over Salvador Perez’s head. Ackley moved up to second and scored on a double. And all that was before Herrera’s poor eighth inning.
If You Can Stomach It
The Royals will again try for their first win in Yankee Stadium since September 7, 2014 tomorrow night at 6:05 pm Central. At this point, you can be forgiven if you’d rather wash your hair, change the litter box, or alphabetize the cheeses in your refrigerator. The pitching matchup is Yordano Ventura against Michael Pineda, and you can watch on Fox Sports KC in the local market or on ESPN if you’re somewhere else. Maybe tomorrow night the baseball gods will again smile on Kansas City.
Photo credit: Brad Penner, USA Today Sports