This was supposed to be so easy.
The Royals jumped to a nine-run lead. Nine runs. Nine. In two innings! And it (almost) didn’t matter.
Last night’s 14-inning affair was as thrilling a moment as the Royals have provided all season. Surrendering a nine-run lead a day later would not have fit into the plan (note: there is no plan). As dispiriting as some of the losses have been, losing a nine-run lead would’ve trumped all; there’s a quiet dignity to going about one’s business in a 7-3 defeat. There is no dignity in surrendering a nine-run lead.
I mentioned it was a nine-run lead right?
Fortunately, a couple of timely dongs were hit in the late innings and the bullpen finally (well, Kevin McCarthy, Tim Hill and Kelvin Herrera finally) staunched the bleeding long enough to pull out an 11-8 victory.
The good news first, because the good news came first: three batters into the game, the Royals had two runs. That’s because Jon Jay led off with a four-pitch walk, Alcides Escobar (still riding high from last night’s walk-off) singled and Mike Moustakas doubled to score both.
That was cool (they also put runners on the corners with nobody out and didn’t do anything else, so whatever), but piling seven runs up in the second inning was a lot cooler. I’ll bet I can breeze through this with some fancy bullet points and less than 100 words:
- Ryan Goins singled.
- Abraham Almonte singled, moving Goins to third.
- Jay scored Goins on a sac fly.
- Almonte stole second.
- Escobar grounded out.
- Moustakas hit a wall-scraper homer.
- Salvador Perez singled.
- Jorge Soler roped a homer double off the top of the wall in left-center to score Salvy.
- Alex Gordon singled to score Soler.
- Starter Fernando Romero was pulled.
- Gordon stole second.
- Hunter Dozier walked.
- Goins tripled to score Gordon and Dozier.
- Almonte struck out. Final damage: seven hits, seven runs.
I’ll admit, I rather lost the thread of the narrative here for a while. I had begun jotting down some words and was catching up on Brockmire. Staying dialed in on each and every pitch seemed to have lost its luster. And also, it’s right about here that I scrubbed most of the recap I had written and started over again.
Ah, but what I didn’t tell you in the preceding 375 or so words was tonight’s big plot twist: with Eric Skoglund on the disabled list, Brad Keller was getting stretched out for starting duty. And in a blindside, Scott Barlow (previously scheduled to piggyback Keller’s start, which was slated for 50-60 pitches) tossed four innings last night and was unavailable for duty. In a stunning move, Human Torch Blaine Boyer landed on the disabled list today and Trevor Oaks got the call. No correlation whatsoever, I’m sure.
Keller was relatively sharp (three innings, three hits, one earned) but was out after 51 pitches. Oaks was less than stellar (1.2 innings, five hits, three earned, a fifth-inning homer to Brian Dozier).
Burch Smith was a tire fire. After striking out Max Kepler for the third out of the fifth, he gave up a home run to Ehire Adrianza (no way that’s a real name), walked Dozier and Eddie Rosario and gave up a Miguel Sano double to score both. Brian Flynn replaced Smith; he walked Logan Morrison on four pitches and then gave up a single to Eduardo Escobar, which scored Sano.
Whoa hey, it’s 9-8 all of a sudden kids!
Whatever misgivings you may have been feeling at that moment (bad Royals relievers + middling offensive performance after two innings = bad things), Hunter Dozier was there to alleviate. He cranked a first pitch homer in the seventh, his season’s first, on a ball that got out of dodge in a hurry (111.6 mph exit velocity).
One inning later, Soler (Good Jorge!) did him one better: a 112.7 mph laser that zoomed 403 feet into the bullpen and into my heart. I don’t care how many times you do silly things, Jorge Soler: I’ll never quit you.
I really didn’t expect to see Kelvin Herrera in the ninth inning, but we got to that point. And thank God he was there too; with Oaks, Smith, Flynn, McCarthy, Hill and Herrera all getting action, Jason Adam was just about the only guy left. He’ll probably have to toss five innings tomorrow though.
The Bright Spot: Soler smacked the absolute crap out of the ball on this night; his second-inning double clocked in at 103.7 mph exit velocity, his sixth-inning single checked in at 104.4 mph and his eighth-inning dinger, well, you already heard. 112.7 mph, second-fastest by a Royal this season. Put that thing away, Jorge.
The Nadir: Scoring early (79 runs this season in innings 1-2) has not been an issue; allowing opponents to score after that (258-151 disadvantage the rest of the way) has been. Today was a microcosm of that.
The Next Step: An off-day awaits before the A’s and Royals renew acquaintances 7:15 p.m., Friday, at Kauffman. Veteran Ian Kennedy takes on a rookie (Frankie Montas) in his second career start.