Fun While It Lasted

Logically, realistically, nobody expected the string of late inning comebacks to last.  The stretch of four games won in the fashion the Royals did this week was improbable.  Asking them to do it again is just asking too much.

It looked as though they wouldn’t need any such comeback though as they ran out to a 5-0 lead, then went into the ninth with a 6-3 lead and Joakim Soria an out away from finishing off the White Sox.

A Juan Pierre single, a Gordon Beckham walk, an Alex Rios chopper…and it just kept coming.  In the end, the White Sox scored four runs with two outs in the top of the ninth to take a lead.  The Royals tied it in the bottom half anyway, because it seems like they just can’t play if there isn’t a little bit extra drama involved.

It was all in vain, though, as the top of the 12th led to three runs and a 10-7 Royals loss.

Funny thing is, they still almost pulled off another walkoff win.

So who’s to blame?

Jeff Francoeur, for striking out in the bottom of the 11th and stranding Alex Gordon at third with only one out?

Joakim Soria for blowing the lead in the first place (which not even the most ardent Soria-hater would expect)?

Sean O’Sullivan for falling apart in the top of the 12th?

Ned Yost for using Aaron Crow two innings last night, making him unavailable today?

How about yes to any and all of those.

Fortunately (I guess), I was working all day during the game and didn’t have to witness the meltdown, but I did have my newly purchased MLB At Bat app on my phone to listen in.  I thought we had our fifth win in a row and, of all people, Joakim Soria was the one to give it up.

For the second time in the first week of the season, the Royals got a five run lead and stopped scoring.  It’s good that they can get some crooked numbers on the scoreboard, but one run innings count too, and they could have used one like that today.

So in a moment like this, let’s just look at the positives.

Jeff Francis was still solid despite giving up a couple of runs late.  Alex Gordon had two hits, both off left-handed pitchers and hit both balls hard, first taking Mark Buerhle to left field, then drilling a Chris Sale pitch to center.  He’s showing a changed approach and it’s paying off for him.  Billy Butler keeps getting hits and keeps getting walks.  The Royals team speed looks for real.

And heck, they’re still 4-2.

Soria blowing a save isn’t the end of the world.  He blew a couple last year, including one in the first series of the year against Detroit.  His 10-pitch battle with Miguel Cabrera that night ended with the Tigers tying the score on a homer off the right field foul pole.  It was just as fluky then as I think this blown save was today.

In other words, don’t worry.  Yet.

The Royals get an off day to stew and regroup.  Following that, they take on the Tigers in Detroit for a three game series.

Ideally, the positives keep coming in and the Royals keep winning.  With some young players on the team, learning to bounce back from a loss like this is an important part of their development.  They can either remain competitive or fall into a nine game losing streak.  The comeback wins suggest to me that this group has a lot of heart and a lot of fight, and no, you can’t measure those attributes, but they still come into play when in the face of adversity.

I’m not so naive to think that all they have to do is think positive and encourage each other, but they’ve exceeded a lot of expectations and have shown that they can turn it on.  They just need to do so more consistently when the opportunity presents itself.

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Tags: AL Central Alex Gordon Baseball Jeff Francis Joakim Soria Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals

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