On the same night the Kansas City Royals front office was drafting the team of the future (a future which appears to have little need for bats), the 2018 version was some 1,300 miles west of 1 Royals Way to take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Surrounding Municipalities Including But Not Limited To [Insert California city names].
If you want to know what an expert thinks about the five pitchers drafted, you’re in the wrong place. Clint Scoles is who you’re after, and he’s way smarter than I am. My 1,000-yard view of the situation is that five collegiate arms seems like an odd way to add juice back into your farm system, but I’ve also never crafted a draft and development strategy that yielded two pennants and a World Series title. I defer to Dayton Moore. I know next to nothing about many of the principles involved on draft night beyond what I find out from Clint or a random college game I may find on ESPNU. Monday night saw FIVE collegiate arms get drafted by Kansas City; I’m sure there’s no correlation between that and the fact that the Royals current pitching situation is Jakob Junis, Kelvin Herrera and a pocket full of wishes.
Anyway, go read Clint’s stuff if you want some positivity in your future. Read this if you want some positivity about your present! You’re getting a raise tomorrow and a beautiful woman will accept your offer to take her out on a date*!
*–Some exclusions may apply.
That’s all I’ve got because the bullpen reared its ugly, Medusa-like head yet again in forking over a 9-6 win to the Angels.
As per usual, the night began with Kansas City scoring runs, because the Royals score runs in the first two innings and then NEVER AGAIN (usually)(sometimes). It began with a manufactured first-inning run after American League All-Star Jon Jay singled to lead off the game, smartly moved up to second on Whit Merrifield’s flyout and scored on a Mike Moustakas single.
An inning later, Jay would drive in a run. Hunter Dozier roped a one-out double, scoring on an Alcides Escobar single. Esky stole second, moved to third on an Abraham Almonte ground out and scored when Jay singled him in.
However, the Royals would only be up a run after two innings; the Angels proved a formidable foe early, putting up a run on a bases-loaded sac fly in the first (Mike Trout singled, Justin Upton singled and Albert Pujols walked) and scoring on a bizarre play in the second when Martin Maldonado singled with Jefry Marte aboard, only the ball… got under the glove… got by… I don’t really know what happened out in left, but the upshot is that Marte scored and Maldonado wound up on second.
The Good Guys tacked on two more in the fifth, with Whit Merrifield stroking a leadoff double and the Angels (wisely) pitching around Mike Moustakas on four pitches. After a Salvador Perez flyout, Angels starter Nick Tropeano missed his spot by several feet, uncorking a wild pitch to move Merrifield and Moustakas up 90 feet. Good Jorge Soler doubled both of them home to give the Royals some breathing room.
Unfortunately, the insurance runs were gone as soon as they arrived. In the Angels portion of the fifth, Justin Upton led off with a homer while Marte led off the sixth in the same fashion to chase Duffy from the contest. Duffy had some good moments, but on the whole he was playing with fire all night; he recorded no strikeouts in a start for the first time since July 10, 2015 and all 15 of his recorded outs were flyouts.
On came Kevin McCarthy and nope, that didn’t spell the difference either. Pinch-hitter Shohei Otani snuck a one-out single under the glove of a heavily-shifted, hard-charging Escobar, then moved to second when Ian Kinsler walked. Trout tied it with a single to score Ohtani, then Pujols singled to score Trout, only because a heads-up Moustakas threw Kinsler out at the plate on Justin Upton’s bouncer to third with one away.
(Is it just me or is Moustakas a little better defensively than last year? His UZR and other advanced metrics say so. Maybe not Gold Glove material, but perfectly serviceable.)
Although surrendering a lead has been as sure of a sign that the Royals were toast as I can think of this season, the fight was not gone. Perez led off the Kansas City seventh with a homer to tie the game, reaching double-figures for the seventh consecutive season.
A three-spot for the Halos doomed the Royals in the bottom of the eighth. Tim Hill issued a leadoff walk to Martin Maldonado, and then for kicks he walked Michael Hermosillo immediately thereafter. After Hill struck out Ian Kinsler, Trout grounded a pitch back through the box—Hill deflected it, Merrifield pulled up, I assume, thinking Escobar would make the play. Nobody did. Pinch-runner Kaleb Cowart scored from second on a ball that didn’t leave the infield.
Upton singled to score Hermosillo.
Pujols singled to score Trout, although Alex Gordon—again—threw out Upton at third for his third outfield assist in eight days to help ease the burden on Burch Smith, who replaced Hill prior to Pujols’ at-bat.
The Bright Spot: Jon Jay had three hits. He’s hitting .311. Convince me it’s not the best story on this team right now.
The Nadir: Hill is one of the few trustworthy relievers on this roster, but he gave up more earned runs in a third of an inning tonight than he did in the entire month of May.
The Next Step: Andrew Heaney takes the ball for the Angels. Brad Keller will go for the Royals. Rumor is Jackson Kowar is being flown out to Anaheim to piggy-back Keller as he continues to get stretched out.