The Royals played 10 games in Cleveland this year. They won once.
They were blown out, walked off, shut out, and everything in between.
If there was a mercy rule on baseball road trips to a particular city, it would have been invoked back in June. Alas, the game has not become so enlightened. The schedule demanded they play, so the Royals at least had the decency to pretend to be interested. They showed up for the three games. Physically.
That’s not to disparage the effort. We’ve heard that a lot this season and that’s a road I prefer not to take. Talk has abounded about the team not caring, players not giving their all, or whatever other kind of psychological nonsense can be found at the concession stand. I didn’t buy that then, and I’m not buying that now. These guys care. But the game isn’t always as easy as they have made it look at times over the last couple of years.
Except this does vibe dead team walking.
I suppose that’s what happens when, after back to back American League pennants, there’s nothing left to play for in the following season. It has to be very difficult to reach down and find it within to not just go through the motions when you know after playing in two consecutive Octobers that you’re going to sit the next one out. Personally, I’ve watched the last couple of games in some sort of haze, fueled not in the Hunter S. Thompson vein of peyote and whisky (although…), rather in the realization that while the Royals are still mathematically alive, these games don’t mean anything other than the fulfillment of the schedule maker’s wishes.
Hollow victories (if we ever see a win again) and empty defeats.
The Royals snoozed through Cleveland for another night, when the heart of their order went 0-12 and their lone runs were plated on an early Alcides Escobar home run. Jason Vargas fought through four innings and Dillon Gee followed with 2.2 frames of work. Both pitchers did OK, except they committed the crime of each allowing a home run. Vargas served one to Jason Kipnis in the first. Gee’s was more heinous in that the long ball he surrendered to Carlos Santana came with two on base. Those two runners reached on a hit by pitch and a walk. Free base runners and gopher balls. The Royals offense in 2016 just isn’t built to withstand that kind of terror.
Kansas City wraps the road portion of their 2016 schedule starting tomorrow in Detroit. The Tigers are busy sweeping a doubleheader away from the Twins as of this writing, meaning they’ll likely be in the second Wild Card position at first pitch Friday. Cleveland is an unstoppable force – they are going to qualify for October no matter how they play down the stretch. On the other hand, Detroit is in a fight for their postseason lives. Maybe that will inspire the Royals. Maybe.