It was a familiar formula that caused the Kansas City Royals (34-35) to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians (35-35) by the count of 4-3. It is the same concoction of brilliant starting pitching, mixed with incompetent offense, and a tad of shaky bullpen that caused the the Royals to lose 20 out of 28 games in May.
On the Mound
The Royals could not ask for more from starter Ervin Santana, who pitched 7 terrific innings. He allowed just 1 run on 3 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Santana’s slider, when it’s working correctly, is as nasty a pitch as there is in the majors.
Kelvin Herrera entered the game at the beginning of the 8th inning after Santana’s pitch count had risen to 106. Herrera surrendered more runs in a third of an inning as the Royals’ bullpen had given in up in their last 37 combined innings. He allowed 3 runs on 2 hits and a walk, the first 2 of which were scored while he was in the game. He was followed by Tim Collins, who failed to strand the winning run. Just like that and a 3-1 lead became a 4-3 deficit.
At the Plate
Baseball is a funny game. The Royals 3 runs came on just one hit, and it wasn’t even a home run. It was basically dumb luck. In the third, Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon walked. A wild pitch moved them up 90 feet and an Eric Hosmer ground ball out scored Escobar. A wild pitch brought Gordon in.
In the 8th, Indian reliever Cody Allen made a throwing error that allowed Eric Hosmer to go all the way to third on a weak grounder to the pitcher. Salvador Perez got the only RBI on the night with a single to center.
Dumb luck turned to incompetence in the 9th when the Royals could not turn 3 hits and a walk into a run, despite no double plays. David Lough and Mike Moustakas singled (Moose’s second of the night!!!) but Chris Getz, who is on the team because he can do the little things, failed to drop a bunt, then failed to make contact, striking out in a situation when moving the runners up was all he was expected to do. Escobar singled to right, and Lough rounded third and headed for for home but was inexplicably held up by third base coach Eddie Rodriguez. Lough tried to put on the brakes but was caught in a rundown. No execution. No runs. No win.
This and That
Despite their 12-6 record in June. the Royals have only scored more than 4 runs four times. Just to indicate how good the pitching has been, Kansas City has outscored their opponents 70-42 this month. Dayton Moore did what was necessary to improve the rotation but he stopped short of improving the offense.
If the Royals could have held onto their lead, or scored in the ninth to pull out the victory, they would have pulled within 4 games of the Detroit Tigers.
KC Kingdom Player of the Game
Santana’s gem made today’s POG decision an easy one.
- James Shields – 7
- Alex Gordon – 9
- Wade Davis – 3
- Lorenzo Cain – 5
- Luis Mendoza - 3
- Billy Butler - 6
- Ervin Santana – 6
- Miguel Tejada - 3
- Jeremy Guthrie -3
- Eric Hosmer - 4
- Chris Getz
- Mike Moustakas - 3
- Aaron Crow
- Jarrod Dyson
- David Lough – 3
- Alcides Escobar – 3
- J.C. Gutierrez
- Jeff Francoeur
- Bruce Chen
- Salvador Perez – 3
Cleveland could only scrape together 6 hits but, unlike the Royals, when they strung a few together, they were able to score. Their 3 hits and 2 walks in the 8th produced 3 runs while the Royals lack of execution in the 9th with 3 hits and a walk produced nothing.
Ubaldo Jimenez was mediocre at best Tuesday, giving up 2 runs on just 2 hits. He did, however, walk 4 in his 5.2 innings. If it weren’t for his 2 walks and his 2 wild pitches in the 3rd, the Royals would not have scored against him.
The Indians win put them ahead of the Royals in the AL Central and in second place.
Kansas City tries to reattain .500 Wednesday by sending Luis Mendoza (2-3, 4.08 ERA) to the mound. The Indians send their ace, Justin Masterson (8-5, 3.52) to bump in an effort to win the series and maintain second place.
AL Central Notes
Detroit Tigers (39-30): Matt Tuiasosopo hit his 3rd homer of the year in just his 69 at bats (see Mr. Hosmer – anyone can do it). Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera each added 2 hits in the 5-2 loss to the Orioles. Justin Verlander took the loss as his ERA sits now at 3.72.
Minnesota Twins (31-36): Ryan Doumit broke up a 5-5 tie with the White Sox in the 8th with a 2-run double. It was his third hit of the night. Joe Mauer went 3-5 with a home run, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI in the win.