Going into Sunday’s game, the Royals hadn’t lost three games in a row in 2011 and had only lost the current series with Texas. They hoped to avoid a sweep today.
Despite scoring five runs in the last three innings, they dug a hole that was too deep to climb out of, allowing six runs in an ugly fifth inning that sent ten Rangers to the plate.
Bruce Chen never looked very sharp and allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in each inning he pitched. Despite a few solid starts early on, he succumbed to the ridiculousness of the Ballpark at Arlington, giving up three homers – all leading off an inning – including the second career homer by Andres Blanco.
Those were all solo shots, and would have been okay, if not for a terrible fifth inning. Chen looked shaken through most of the inning, working slowly and allowing himself to be distracted by Julio Borbon, who walked after Blanco’s homer. Borbon stole second and coaxed numerous looks from Chen during Mitch Moreland‘s at bat. He walked Moreland, then gave up an RBI single to Michael Young.
Ned Yost didn’t like what he saw and with an off day tomorrow, wasn’t shy about getting into his bullpen.
Jeremy Jeffress came in and walked Adrian Beltre. He struck out Nelson Cruz next, but then walked in a run with Mike Napoli at the plate. Then, with the bases loaded, David Murphy doubled to clear the bases.
Yost later second guessed himself. Jeffress came in with a base open, but his scouting report has always listed spotty control as a weakness. Today it was pretty apparent why. He allowed two inherited runners to score and two of his own.
It did seem like a curious choice, but Jeffress has electric stuff and his strikeout of Cruz shows how he’s one of the best options in the Royals bullpen to get one important strikeout. His control issues limit his usefulness, though, and with Aaron Crow and Louis Coleman also available, he might not see a lot of tight situations for a while.
The Royals had a good offensive day if you look at the box score, but the story at the plate was pretty different. C.J. Wilson was strong for his first six innings and effective enough in the seventh. After a leadoff single and stolen base by Mike Aviles, Wilson struck out Melky Cabrera, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler in order. Over seven innings, he struck out 10 and walked just one. Six of his strikeouts were called third strikes.
In total, the Royals struck out 13 times.
That one walk went to, of all people, Jeff Francoeur. Also amazing, he struck out looking twice. If there was any player in recent Royals history to not get cheated out of an opportunity to swing away (other than Yuniesky Betancourt), it’s Francoeur.
The offensive star of the game was Aviles, who returned to his leadoff spot and went 3-5 with two homers, a steal and four RBI. His three-run homer in the top of the ninth brought the Royals within one run and chased former Royal Brett Tomko. Melky Cabrera fought Arthur Rhodes, but grounded out to end the game.
Alex Gordon got a broken bat single off Tomko in the eighth inning to extend his career high hitting streak to 17 games. Francoeur homered off the foul pole in the fourth inning for his fourteenth straight game with a hit.
Also, Billy Butler hit into his first double play of the year on a grounder to short in the eighth.
The Royals are off tomorrow as they travel to Cleveland. With tomorrow’s off day, the Royals will skip Sean O’Sullivan‘s turn in the rotation, so Luke Hochevar will try to rebound from his one bad inning on Wednesday night.