Driving back from an impromptu end-of-summer trip for the second anniversary of my 29th birthday (do the math, kids) I realized something:
The Royals hadn’t disappointed me once this weekend. In fact, I had no idea what had happened. I’d been completely off the grid and it was liberating, particularly after zooming through the recaps and “highlights” of the first two contests against St. Louis. The… best?… thing that happened was Danny Duffy getting ejected. No Phys in my life. No Hudler. No Alcides Escobar starting ahead of someone with talent. No bullpen brain farts. No Lucas Duda, clean-up hitter.
I have not been that relaxed in a long time.
And then, like an idiot I flicked on the game on the radio on the way back, then turned it on as soon as I walked in the door. And what I saw and heard was as horrifying as anything Eli Roth has ever put forth on a multiplex screen.
It began, as it so predictably has so many times this season, with an early run in the first to put the Royals up. Alex Gordon and Duda walked around a Salvador Perez single to load the bases for Rosell Herrera. He hit a tapper to recent call-up Patrick Wisdom, who tried to run to the bag before he caught the ball. Gordon scored, Royals up a run!
That lasted two innings, because the Royals can’t have nice things even when Jakob Junis is pitching. Junis got outs on by striking out leadoff hitter Harrison Bader and Hottest Hitter in Baseball™ Matt Carpenter, with Wisdom earning his first big-league hit in between. But Junis hit Yadier Molina with two outs and then former Royal farmhand Jose Martinez hit a line-drive single to center to score Wisdom.
Kansas City answered in the home half, putting together a two-out rally on a Perez double and an upheld call at the plate on Duda’s single which scored Perez on some nifty plate acrobatics despite Bader’s cannon from center field. Duda, who took second on the play at the plate, decided he’d challenge Bader after Herrera singled on a ground ball four pitches later. That didn’t go as well, with Bader’s laser to the plate nabbing Duda by several steps to end the inning.
That was the last meaningful scoring opportunity for either side until St. Louis broke through with three runs in the seventh. The mistake, obviously, was not allowing Junis to throw a 164-pitch complete game. Instead, Ned Yost turned to Jason Hammel, who promptly allowed singles to Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia, a walk to Bader before Wisdom singled to score Gyorko to tie the game.
Ned, sensing a lost cause, turned to Tim Hill to face Carpenter, which… actually worked! With the sacks full, his grounder to Duda caused a force at the plate, in addition to setting up the potential for an inning-ending double play for Kevin McCarthy, who was brought in to face a string of righties since Ned has (finally) realized Hill can’t pitch to righties.
McCarthy got it, but not before Molina singled home Bader and Wisdom. Martinez grounded into the inning-ending double play but by then, the lead had become a deficit.
Things got out of control those last few innings, which happens when your bullpen is duct-tape and three decent Wily Peralta outings out of five. Garcia doubled home Marcell Ozuna in the eighth for a run, followed by a three-run ninth against Peralta (this was not one of the three). It started innocently enough, with Carpenter taking a heater off the ribcage (one of four hit batters by the Royals) before Molina flied out and Adolis Garcia struck out. Ozuna doubled to score Carpenter, then Paul DeJong homered to score Ozuna and turned a decent game into a laugher. The classy Cardinals (ahahahaha I crack myself up) at least took the bait in the ninth by hitting Bonifacio with two down in the ninth, earning Tyler Webb an ejection. Uncle Hud even got mad that they ejected Webb with two down, and I don’t blame him: message received, let’s move on.
Your Tweet of Despair
This will be the 14th time the #Royals have been swept this season
— Tweeting from 30,000 feet (@shakes2011) August 12, 2018
The Bright Spot: Junis. Poor, decent Jakob Junis and his six innings of three-hit, eight-strikeout ball that was undone by Hammel in about four minutes.
The Nadir: Hammel. Peralta. The 0-for12 proffered by the 6-through-9 spots in the order. Take your pick.
The Next Step: The Royals welcome Toronto to Kansas City Monday, and will take on Sean Reid-Foley in his MLB debut in the opener. Brad Keller will start the four-gamer for the Royals.