For as much as everything went right for the Kansas City Royals (57-53) on Monday night, that much went wrong on Tuesday. The Royals were whitewashed 7-0 by the Minnesota Twins. File this one under the “you can’t win them all” category.
On the Mound
James Shields‘ first inning struggles continued when he allowed 3 runs, including 2 home runs in the initial frame. Unlike many of his other starts, Shields did not ever right the ship enough to keep his offensively challenged teammates in the game. He ended up inexplicably pitching 6 innings, gave up 7 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. He struck out just two. It took 110 painful pitches for Shields to make it through 6, only 66 of which were strikes.
On a more positive note, Will Smith finally was called to relieve Shields in the 7th and he promptly pitched 3 perfect innings, striking out 5.
At the Plate
Did the Royals bat? It hardly seemed so. Batter after batter was mowed down by an unknown, soft tossing left hander. More on him in a while. Alcides Escobar and Eric Hosmer each had 2 hits but the rest of the line-up provided nada. Zip. Nothing. In the 9th, Hosmer and Billy Butler both walked to load the bases following one of Escobar’s base hits, but the horribly slumping Alex Gordon hit into a game ending double play.
On a positive note, Kansas City only struck out twice.
This and That
As good as James Shields has been, and make no mistake about it – he has been very good for the Royals – Shields has been just awful in the first inning. This season, he has given up 21 runs in the first. In no other inning has he surrendered more than 10 earned runs. He has given up more hits, walks, and home runs in the first than any other inning and his ERA in the first is 7.88. The next highest individual inning ERA is the 6th, which is 3.80.
Last night, Shields looked tired and was not sharp right from the start. Anyone (everyone) could see it. In other games when Shields has started poorly, he was able to recover and hold his team in the game. It was evident last night after four innings that he just was having a bad night. He just looked worn out.
So, what does Manager Ned Yost decide to do, in all of his incredible wisdom? Instead of pulling Shields after four to maybe left him rest his arm a bit in a game the Royals were trailing 5-0, and looked to have no clue at the plate, Yost ran Shields out there for two more innings, piling up pitches on a tired arm for no apparent reason.
This was idiotic for a couple of reasons. For one, Jeremy Guthrie gave the bullpen a night off on Monday. For another, Yost had Will Smith in the bullpen, who is most likely going to be sent down today to make room for Danny Duffy. If Smith comes in and Yost tells him he has to take one for the team because Kansas City has 13 games in the next 12 days or whatever, Smith could have done it. Heck, he pitched 3 perfect innings anyway.
No, Yost had no way of knowing Smith would be so effective but he couldn’t have been worse than Shields last night. Yost could have, and should have, used Smith from the 5th on, since it would not have touched the rest of the bullpen at all, and given those arms an additional day’s rest. It is what Yost did anyway, just 2 innings later than he should have. It is a perfect example of Yost not knowing how to manage a pitching staff correctly, and it exhibited a total lack of understanding of the situation. People can defend Yost all they want, but he blew this big time.
KC Kingdom Player of the Game
I’m going to go with Will Smith in this one. He not only took one for the team, but he did it perfectly. His reward will probably be another trip to Omaha.
- James Shields – 9
- Alex Gordon – 12
- Wade Davis – 5
- Lorenzo Cain – 8
- Luis Mendoza - 3
- Billy Butler - 8
- Ervin Santana – 8
- Miguel Tejada - 5
- Jeremy Guthrie -5
- Eric Hosmer - 11
- Chris Getz
- Mike Moustakas - 6
- Aaron Crow
- Jarrod Dyson - 3
- David Lough – 8
- Alcides Escobar – 5
- J.C. Gutierrez
- Jeff Francoeur
- Bruce Chen – 2
- Salvador Perez – 4
- Will Smith - 2
- George Kottaras
- Louis Coleman - 2
- Bruce Chen
- Justin Maxwell
The Royals went silent for a 27-year old career minor leaguer, who spent time in a New England independent league. Andrew Albers only allowed 3 base runners in the first 8 innings. He issued his first base on balls and a hit in the ninth before being relieved by Casey Fien.
The Twins have now won 4 or their last 5.
Danny Duffy will make his long awaited 2013 Royals debut as he takes Wade Davis‘ spot in the rotation as Davis is away from the team due to a death in the family. Duffy must face off against a nemesis of the the Royals, Sam Deduno (7-4, 3.17 ERA) at 7:10 on Wednesday.
AL Central Notes
Detroit Tigers (66-45): The Tigers continue to roll as they beat Cleveland 5-1 for their 10th straight win. Justin Verlander was his old self, going 8, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits. He struck out 7 and walked none. Don Kelly went 3-4 with a homer, a run, and 3 batted in
Cleveland Indians (62-51): Justin Masterson could not match the Tiger ace on this night. In 7, he surrendered 5 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. His offense only scraped 4 hits together and didn’t walk at all.
Chicago White Sox (42-69): The White Sox won their second straight since losing 10 in a row. They did the Royals a favor by beating fellow wild card competitor, the New York Yankees, 3-2. The Yanks only scored 1 run on 5 hits in 7.1 innings against Chris Sale.