A two-hour, 14-minute rain delay for these two teams to continue their inexorable march toward 162 games seems downright silly to me.
I get it, every effort should be made to always play all 162 unless there are extenuating circumstances. Players deserve the opportunity to stat-pad for contract purposes. Fans bought tickets. If you have a window, you go for it. It makes sense—baseball and business sense, which are often one and the same.
That said, this game ended far after midnight, in front of several thousand fewer fans than I’m sure either team was expecting. I’m not sure what could be done to prevent this—the only open date they both still have on the schedule is August 27, which would take the Jays from Baltimore to Miami via one-day stop in Kansas City. Maybe build in some extra off days in the MLB schedule to combat this? I don’t know the solution, but it can’t be post-midnight ballgames between two sub-.500 teams in a stadium that’s 92 percent empty. End rant.
Now that I’ve exposed myself as an idiot and charlatan of the highest order, we can get down to business: the Royals won! That’s a split against a real, live American League team! I’m heading out to buy a lottery ticket! Sixteen straight games without an error! I’m very excited, as you can tell from the exclamation points!
After the lengthy delay, the game got started officially at 9:29 p.m. (CT). Starter Glenn Sparkman struck out two in the first inning, while his counterpart Sam Gaviglio punched out Salvador Perez to end the first.
Little did either know, that would be the highpoint.
Sparkman’s problem’s arose in the second inning, when his control deserted him. After old friend Kendrys Morales grounded out, Teoscar Hernandez walked and Kevin Pillar doubled him to third before Danny Jansen’s sac fly scored Hernandez and moved Pillar to third. Sparkman proceeded to hit Aledmys Diaz with a pitch but was bailed out not so much by Perez, who double-clutched his throw, but because Diaz elected not to slide.
The Royals evened the score in the bottom of the second, although there was no Rube Goldbergian mechanisms required to make that happen—Lucas Duda just worked the count full and mashed a hanging slider over the fence. Still pretty amazing no contender wanted a veteran left-handed bat for the price of a couple of high-upside teenagers.
The Blue Jays retook the lead briefly in the fourth thanks to a leadoff single by Justin Smoak, a curveball that missed the mark by feet, not inches, and moved him up 90 feet and then a Morales single to plate Smoak.
Perez and Duda went meekly to open the fourth before a two-out rally yielded three runs that really decided the game. Rosell Herrera got the line moving with a single and scored on a triple by Jorge Bonifacio. Ryan O’Hearn (single) drove in Bonifacio and Hunter Dozier (double) knocked in O’Hearn, who runs with the grace of Cotton Hill on bath salts.
Between the delay and this being his first big-league start, Sparkman was going to be on a short leash and he exited after 75 pitches and four innings of largely disaster-free baseball. But the bullpen—this bullpen!—decided to toss five innings of three-hit ball, striking out six in the process. Back-to-back five-inning outings from the pen have yielded no runs. It’s like we don’t even know these guys anymore!
Meanwhile, the offense added a couple of runs just in case Brandon Maurer, et al., decided they needed to make it interesting. In the fifth, Herrera doubled home Alex Gordon after a one-out walk, and more could’ve been had there—Perez (single), Herrera (double) and Bonifacio (free pass) had loaded the bases with two down, only for O’Hearn to strike out on three pitches in a big spot, or as it’s known in the trade, “To Escobar.”
Old-fashioned small-ball the likes of which we rarely see in the American League helped the Royals pick up their final run. After a Dozier leadoff single in the sixth, Adalberto Mondesi moved him into scoring position with a bunt and Whit Merrifield tagged a single into left to score Dozier. And it’s post-midnight, so this recap is over.
Unusually Happy Tweet of the Game
— Mike Gillespie (@MikeGillespieJD) August 17, 2018
The Bright Spot: Is it too late to sell this bullpen—the competent one, not the gasoline-bearing unit from April, May, June and July—to a contender? Oh yeah, and three hits for Herrera and two apiece for Merrifield, Bonifacio and Dozier.
The Nadir: Two hours, fourteen minutes worth of delays for [gestures] THESE two teams. No wonder baseball can’t figure out how to properly market Mike Trout.
The Next Step: 244 strikeouts and a combined record of 10-25 toe the rubber at Guaranteed Rate Field when the Royals embark on a seven-game road trip. Jakob Junis takes the ball for Kansas City, while old friend James Shields gets the call for Chicago. Alex Gordon (.471 all-time) beats Shields like a piñata, so hopefully that continues.