It’s been a long, but great week for me, so I decided that I would have an nice, relaxing evening watching the Royals host the Twins in the first game of a weekend set. The Royals returned home after a long road trip, where they went 4-5 in series against the Tigers, Twins, and Blue Jays. It could have been a winning road trip, considering the Boys in Blue let a few games slip through their fingers. Alas, the Royals returned back to the K after Alex Gordon’s game winning home run against Toronto on Wednesday with, I would assume, a little spring in their step.
Was I ever wrong. [...]
The Royals came out against the Twins like they had just gotten out of bed and were flat in just about every aspect of the game. So where to begin?? Let’s start with Gil Meche, as he was toeing the rubber for the third time this season. He did not last long in this contest with the Twins, who also took Meche to the cleaners last week on the 17th up in the Twin Cities. His stat line from last night was (surprisingly) the best of the season, but don’t let that fool you. He was flat-out horrible, only making it through 3&1/3 innings for the second time this season. He allowed four earned runs, gave up five free passes, and only struck out two. While he was given the hook in the fourth, it was clear before then that he had no command of any of his pitches from the start.
Brad Thompson was called in to put out the fire for Meche, making his first appearance for the Royals this season after being called up from Omaha. Aside from giving up a double down the line to Joe Mauer and an opposite field home run to the Royal-killer, Jim Thome, I thought Thompson pitched reasonably well. Maybe my viewpoint of Thompson had been jaded by Meche’s lackluster performance, but at least Thompson was able to hit the strike zone, with his fastball touching the low-90s and having good downward movement. He also gave up one walk in 1&2/3 innings. So while it certainly wasn’t a great performance, it could have been much worse (fyi, the Thome homer was apparently aided quite a bit by the wind, according to the Royals telecast, as it was blowing rather strongly towards left field all night — regardless, it was still a home run).
Thompson was replaced by Dusty Hughes to start the top of the sixth. While Hughes has been less-than-impressive to start the season, he was able to piece together two innings of solid work, only giving up one hit and striking out one as well. I would venture to say that he was the lone bright spot for the Royals last night because it would only get worse after Hughes was pulled for Kyle Farnsworth.
KF came in for the top of the eighth and promptly hung a breaking ball right over the fat part of the plate, his third pitch of the evening, to JJ Hardy who put it over the left field fence for his third home run of the season. Farnsworth was somehow able to escape the eighth without any more damage before giving way to Robinson Tejeda, who quickly gave up two more runs to put the game entirely out of reach for the Royals in the top of the ninth.
The irony about this game was that while the score remained relatively close for most of the matchup, the Royals were never really in it. The Twins were constantly on base all night, compiling eleven hits and seven walks, but had also left ten on base, never fulling putting the game out of reach for the Royals.The Twins starter Carl Pavano kept the Royals on lock-down all evening, amassing five strikeouts, only two earned runs on four hits through seven innings. What was more impressive, however, was how Pavano was able to bounce back against the Royals, who roughed him up last week in the Twin Cities. On the 18th, Pavano only lasted 3&1/3 innings, giving up eleven hits and seven earned runs, eventually losing to the Royals 10-5. Matt Guerrier came into the game in the eighth and proceeded to give up a run on Scott Podsednik’s fielder choice and Brian Duensing closed the door on the Royals in the ninth.
The Royals defense gave up an untimely run in the fourth with Thompson on the mound. With one out and Twins 2B Orlando Hudson at the dish, CF Denard Span was at first and 3B Brendan Harris at second, Thompson was able to get Hudson to ground to Betancourt at short, who then flipped the ball to Callaspo, in what should have been a routine double play. However, a hard-charging Span slid into second causing Callaspo to unload his throw to first base off balance, and thus going wide of Billy Butler at first. The ball caromed off the dugout screen, but was too late as Harris was already rounding third and scored easily. Callaspo was charged with an error, and rightfully so. Had Bert held his ground at second and made a good throw to first base, the Royals would have been out of the inning, but instead, Harris was able to score from second base and put the Twins back up by three runs, 4-1. While it was the only defensive blunder of the game for the Royals, it proved costly, especially from a psychological stand point. They should have been out of the inning, but were not because of a fundamental breakdown. It seems that anytime the Royals give their opponent an extra AB or out, it almost always comes back to bite them in the rear.
The Royals offense was never able to put much together, aside from single runs scored in the third, sixth, and eighth innings. The best chance to pull even was in the eighth, with two men on and Billy Butler at the dish. He put a home run swing on the pitch, and for a second I thought we had a tie game, but he just missed it, sending it to deep left field, where it was the final out of the inning. The Royals went away meekly in the ninth, thus dropping to 6-10 on the season and remained in fourth in the AL Central, a half-game ahead of the Chicago White Sox.
Hopefully the Royals can take a page out of the Twins book — solid pitching, sound defense and fundamentals, and timely hitting — and even this series tonight with a win.
Will the Royals win tonight?
- No (75%, 9 Votes)
- Yes (25%, 3 Votes)
- Neither -- game will be PPD (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 12