Ned Yost wanted to get Eric Skoglund another start to end the season, and he wanted him to do it against a quality opponent.
Not a bad little idea Ned had. That’s actually the kind of Nedism that probably earned him at least one more year at the helm, as his extension was announced prior to game 162, Sunday afternoon. Rather than another start to put an exclamation point on an exemplary season for Brad Keller, who had nothing left to prove, Yost instead put Skoglund on the mound against the division champs and said, “Let’s see it.”
Even though it didn’t result in a win—and I can’t recount how many times I’ve typed something to that effect this year—it gave Skoglund a nice end to the campaign and provided another building block, however slight, as the franchise seeks to frame up the future.
‘Twas an auspicious beginning for the Royals. Skoglund booted a Francisco Lindor bouncer to open the game and of course, Lindor made him pay with a steal of second, a steal of third and of course, coming across to score when Alcides Escobar failed to haul in Meibrys Viloria’s throw.
Good old Esky, one more rancid play in a season full of them. There will always be 2015.
Lindor led off the third with a homer in the third but the Royals broke through in the fifth. Brian Goodwin led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on Escobar’s groundout. Brett Phillips walked and then Viloria singled to score Goodwin.
That’s more or less the things that happened, baseball-wise, that you probably care about—Ryan O’Hearn made a nice diving stop in the second inning—but two moments stood out. In the eighth, Whit Merrifield singled, swiped second and moved to third on a throwing catcher by Eric Haase. He locked up the MLB lead in hits (192) and steals (45)—the seventh player in MLB history to do that—and will enter next season with a 20-game hit streak intact.
In the ninth, with two outs and a runner on first, Escobar stepped to the plate. Hero, goat, All-Star, sub-replacement player—Esky has worn many hats over his Kansas City career. He received a well-deserved ovation and as I was thinking, “Boy, a walk-off homer would be the perfect cap to his career,” he hit a little dribbler to the mound and like that, his tenure—and the 2018 season for the Kansas City Royals—came to a close.
Your Tweet of Despair
About Esky’s last game as a Royal… anybody else able to confirm this? Because it’s too terrifying to contemplate.
Esky isn’t done. Dayton basically just said on #Royals radio in so many words there is an excellent chance Esky will be back in utility role.
— Chris (@bballkansas) September 30, 2018
The Bright Spot: Merrifield finished the season as the big-league leader in hits and stolen bases. Please stop the “Trade Whit!” narrative; he’s worth more to the Royals than to anyone else. Remember when he wasn’t an All-Star? That was stupid.
The Nadir: No Royals baseball for six months. While the losing got old after a while*, baseball is fun. Baseball is fun and good to watch and little moments like Whit Merrifield getting a standing O as much for surviving as anything else make the day-in, day-out drudgeries worth it.
*- It got old after about six games.
The Next Step: 2019. What will it hold? Promise, if September was any indication. Maybe they’ll lose 100 games again, but they won’t do it in the same soul-crushing fashion they seemed content to do in April, May and June. Until then, thanks for reading me roughly half the time. Clint, David and the other dudes will be around all offseason, and I’ll hop in from time to time to give my opinion about whatever happens. Adieu.