This was your 2016 Royals in a nutshell.
First, jump out to a quick lead. Yes, it was a home run which isn’t very Royal, but that’s neither here nor there. The important part of my narrative I’m desperately attempting to manufacture is that the Royals scored a couple of quick runs. Then, they shelved the bats until the late innings. Twice, they had a runner on third with less than two outs. In sum, they had five opportunities to scratch across a run in the fifth and sixth. Three strikeouts, a foul out to the first baseman and a ground out netted bupkis.
They put another runner on third in the ninth. In fact, they loaded the bases with nobody out. This, was the late Royals rally. The Run Expectancy Matrix says the average team is scoring 2.3 runs when they have that situation in an inning. Drew Butera believes in the Run Expectancy. He delivered an opposite field single past a drawn-in infield to break the deadlock. Paulo Orlando made the Matrix look prescient by bringing in two more for insurance. Eric Hosmer added to the scoring with a one-run single, before Kendrys Morales added the final exclamation point with a three-run jack into the Royals bullpen. Seven runs in the inning. The Royals laugh at your Matrix.
It can be frustrating watching this team in the middle innings, but when it’s the Twins, you just need a little bit of patience.
Gee Takes The Fifth
Meanwhile, Dillon Gee surrendered the lead as quickly as he possibly could, and started the process in the most predicable way. He chose to pitch to Brian Dozier. Honestly, is there any reason any Royals pitcher should ever pitch to Dozier? And I’m not talking about just for the rest of this series or the rest of this season. Don’t throw him a hittable pitch ever again. Ever.
Two home runs later, the Twins held the lead. If you were keeping score at home, that was three bombs allowed to the first eight hitters Gee faced. However, once he drove beyond the speed bumps, he put the pedal to the floor and drove through the Twins lineup for the rest of the night. He retired 15 of his last 17 batters faced. An ugly start followed by a somewhat inspired finish. As Hunter Samuels wrote at this web address last week, Gee has delivered a perfectly acceptable performance for the Royals as their fifth starter.
The Royals finally hung another run on the scoreboard in the seventh. After Ervin Santana opened the inning hitting Salvador Perez with a pitch and following that with a walk to Alex Gordon, Paul Molitor came out with the hook. It’s always bullpen roulette, but with the Twins it’s akin to pushing all your chips on the black when the wheel only has red. Santana wore the look of a condemned man as he strolled to the clubhouse; we can only surmise he could see into the future.
It took two batters for the Royals to knot the game at three. Alcides Escobar with the honors on a single to left. Escobar has been miserable at the dish this season for the Royals, carrying a .237 TAv in 593 plate appearances. The abundance of plate appearances was an ill conceived attempt to recapture some of that “Esky Magic” the first few months of the season. Since then, he’s dropped in the order and the key situation always seems to find him. On Tuesday, he delivered. Baseball is a strange game. The single pushed the Royals Win Expectancy 18 percent to the positive.
After Santana delivered six-plus strong innings, Molitor motioned to his bullpen five times. It was a wonder he didn’t tear a rotator cuff. He probably got indigestion watching his relievers attempt to pitch, though. The final numbers on the Twins bullpen: 3 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO.
As noted, the mini-rally in the seventh was started the Perez was hit on the wrist by a pitch. He turned and walked toward the dugout almost immediately, which was worrying enough. Perez doesn’t come out of the game under any circumstances. He stopped short of the dugout where he was met by the trainer, but he did indeed exit the contest. An update from the Royals said Perez suffered a bone contusion. You would have to think he will miss a couple of games. Yet you wouldn’t be surprised to see him back behind the plate tomorrow.
Ahead of Tuesday’s game, Lorenzo Cain said he hoped his wrist would improve over the week and is targeting a Friday return in Chicago. Cain last played a week ago Monday in the opening game of the last Royals homestand. It’s not a coincidence the Royals have gone 3-4 in his absence.
The Royals wrap the series and go for the much-needed sweep at 7:10 on Wednesday. Danny Duffy against Kyle Gibson. Take a moment to read our series preview for the third game of this match-up.