Jorge Lopez! The Rays Opener! It’s alleged Major League Baseball in central Florida, played in front of dozens!
I know Florida is where the elderly go to await death’s sweet embrace, but it seems like more of them could make it out to Tropicana Field on a semi-regular basis. When even the reported attendance numbers (average: 14,683) are less than half capacity, you’re not doing that well in the ol’ attendance category. A great deal of the 10,036 announced for Monday night appeared to be off getting a beer each time the camera panned the crowd. And look, I know that the Royals—or at least, THESE Royals—aren’t exactly a marquee matchup. But it’s still Major League Baseball.
These are also semi-sour grapes, since the Rays and their opener held off the Royals in a 1-0 barnburner to open a series down in the Trop.
Both teams threatened in the second, but only one capitalized. Spoiler: Wasn’t the team that got shutout for nine innings by the likes of Hunter Wood! The Royals put a man in scoring position with two outs after Lucas Duda led off with a single and Rosell Herrera followed with a single of his own three batters later. After Ryan Yarbrough replaced Opener Hunter Wood, hometown kid Brett Phillips was called out on strikes to end it for the Royals.
On the Rays end of the second, it was feast or famine for the Good Guys. Tommy Pham led off with a groundout; someone named Ji-Man Choi followed with a bunt single. Joey Wendle grounded into a force at second; Kevin Kiermaier singled him to third anyway.
The game turned on an umpire’s review. Willy Adames hit a tapper to Herrera at third, and he came up firing to Duda at first. Adames, initially called out on a bang-bang play, was ruled safe upon further review, scoring Choi.
Lopez was barely able to hold it together in the third inning, walking the bases loaded with Mallex Smith, Jake Bauers and Choi. Fortunately, he induced a Matt Duffy groundout and a Pham strikeout around that, and so Wendle’s groundout ended the inning without another run coming across.
Perez did two positive things in the fourth. First, he led off with a double, followed by a Duda walk, which went nowhere thanks to strikeouts by Jorge Bonifacio, Ryan O’Hearn and Herrera. In the bottom half of the inning, he negated a leadoff double by Kiermaier by showcasing the howitzer we take for granted as attached to his right arm.
The rest of the game passed without incident. The Royals had nothing for Yarbrough, who tossed 5.1 innings of two-hit, six-strikeout ball. Jake Newberry recorded his first career strikeout in the bigs, which was cool. Perez grounded into an inning-ending, rally-killing double play in the eighth after one-out singles by Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon. Not the finest two days in Salvy’s career—a platinum sombrero yesterday and a squandering of (probably) the Royals best chance today. Always tomorrow.
Your Tweet of Despair
The Kansas City #Royals aren’t even a good AAA ball club.
— Mouse in catspeak (@Meouse) August 21, 2018
The Bright Spot: Three more quality relief innings for Kansas City relievers. It’s like I don’t even know you guys anymore!
The Nadir: Just a real murderers row of contenders here. Sorry to rain on Phillips’ parade, but he’s 0-for-his-last-9 and 3-for-23 since Aug. 11. Sorry buddy; at least you have lots of people who love you, if Rustin Dodd’s report is any indication.
The Next Step: Well after that crap fest, it’s only one of the best pitcher’s in the American League who is set to oppose the Royals tomorrow. Blake Snell is 14-5, has a 2.10 ERA, should’ve been an All-Star even without Corey Kluber declining to participate in the All-Star Game and has emerged as a legitimate Cy Young candidate. Maybe one day we’ll say some of those same things about Glenn Sparkman too.