A lot of people celebrate Memorial Day (or as it’s known in the Deep South, the Official Start of Grilling, Drinking and Wearing American Flags Somewhere On Your Person Day) with a baseball game. I am not some people; I celebrated it with two.
First, there were my hometown Nashville Sounds, who had a 12:05 first pitch against Oklahoma City. The Sounds leadoff batter got a hit, the Sounds didn’t get another hit until the eighth inning and then won on a walk-off anyway in the ninth. It was good and exciting and the humidity was not 932 percent, which passes for a retroactive Holy Day down here.
Did you notice the word exciting was used in there to describe a baseball game? I had almost forgotten baseball games could be exciting, but I spend a lot of time watching the Royals, so forgive me. It’s how I chose to spend the last few hours of the day, only to watch Minnesota come out on the top side of an 8-5 decision.
For the first four innings, Monday’s battle between Jakob Junis and Lance Lynn was quite the pitcher’s duel, which has become expected of Junis and used to be of Lynn. The fifth is where things got a little sideways for both, however; Junis, who had corkscrewed Miguel Sano into the dirt in both his first two plate appearances on a diet full of sliders changed things up in the fifth, going fastball (strike), fastball (ball) fastball (launched into the stratosphere) to put a crooked number up for Minnesota.
A bevy of doubles allowed the Good Guys to even things up in the home half. Jon Jay (who had himself a day, what a rhyme, every time, oh God I can’t stop, someone find me a mop) led off with a double, with Whit Merrifield walking on four pitches and Mike Moustakas banging both home with a double of his own. Brand-new ball game!
In theory. In practice, Brian Dozier’s RBI single which scored Mitch Garver in the sixth put the Twins ahead for good, though the Royals were not without chances. Jay doubled again to lead off the seventh, but a baserunning… whatever… saw him easily cut down at third after Merrifield hit a two-hopper to short that Jay either thought was getting through the infield or thought would be slow-developing enough to allow him to advance; regardless, Eduardo Escobar threw to third, Sano applied the tag and the Royals would come out of that inning with no runs.
The Royals coming out of innings with no runs thing was quite the theme. Kansas City left 12 men on for the game and were a lukewarm 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position. For the novice among you, 1.) This is a Baseball Prospectus site; by law, they’re not allowed to let anyone dumber than me write here so you’re gonna need to brush up and 2.) 4-for-19 with RISP is just terrible.
Eddie Rosario cleared the bases with a three-run double in the eighth, but by then it was no longer Junis’ problem. His line: six innings, six hits, three earned, seven strikeouts (and a season-high four walks, if we’re being picky). And while I’d love to tell you that Rosario slammed an absolute rocket off Burch Smith, the truth of the matter is that he hit a little liner into short right-center that just sort of rolled into no-man’s land.
The Royals scored three runs in the later innings to give you the final, respectable deficit that gave cause for Fernando Rodney to come in and shoot his arrow. In the eighth, Alcides Escobar kick-started a two-out rally by getting hit (really, the only way Esky can kick-start a rally), followed by a Ramon Torres single. Jay (there’s that man again) laid down a perfect bunt along the third base line; Sano, playing way back, had no chance on it, so Zach Duke attempted to make the throw to first. He was not successful, the throw got away and Esky scored. Rodney replaced Duke, Merrifield singled and Torres scored. Mike Moustakas struck out to end that rally.
It was a two-run game when the Twins came to the plate in the ninth, but it was a four-run Minnesota lead after Blaine Boyer had his say. Boyer, who is a Major League Baseball Player thanks to Good Dudeness and nothing else, got two outs before surrendering a double to Max Kepler, a single to Robbie Grossman and a bases-clearing double to Garver in the span of [checks notes] eight pitches.
He’s a super-good dude though.
In the Royals half of the ninth, Jorge Soler (Good Jorge!) murdered a baseball into a cloud of fine particles. Nothing else happened. The Record is (Rustin Dodd clubs me over the head).
(Happy Memorial Day. We joke a lot around here and I know it seems like the world is on fire every time you go online, but there are still people that have and continue to fight for our freedoms and make the ultimate sacrifice for you to live and believe as you care to do. That’s not something you can ever make too much of a big deal about.)
The Bright Spot: Jay was 4-for-5, made a nice sliding grab on a Sano liner in the seventh and dang near brought back Sano’s homer in the fifth. His three doubles also tied Lucas Duda for most by a Royal this season. Jon Jay, who is a regular in this lineup mostly because Jorge Bonifacio got himself suspended, is hitting .305 with three days left in May. If he gets one more hit before June starts, he’s the first Royal with 40-plus in a month since Johnny Damon in 1999.
Also, kudos to Alex Gordon on a three-hit day that bumps him back up to .283 on the season.
The Nadir: I mentioned Boyer; to do so again would be piling on. Also, Jay and Gordon were a combined 7-for-10; everybody combined to go 6-for-30.
The Next Step: Kyle Gibson v. Danny Duffy at 7:15 p.m. (CT) tomorrow; Duffy was very good the last time out. Either it marked the beginnings of a turnaround or he’ll be back to earth with an unpleasantness tomorrow.