At the start of the season, a third place rank in the AL Central would seem like a miracle. After a (mostly) solid six weeks to start the season, the Royals loss to the Tigers on Friday put them half a game behind Detroit.
It’s not entirely their fault, though. Just ask the Blue Jays. Justin Verlander is unhittable right now.
After throwing a one walk no-hitter in his last start, Verlander kept the Royals hitless until Melky Cabrera ripped a ball into the gap in right center for a triple. Alcides Escobar had walked and scored the Royals only run.
Matt Treanor hit a double to right in the eighth and that was all the Royals got against Verlander. Jose Valverde gave up a leadoff single to Alex Gordon in the ninth, but struck out Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer to lock it down.
In his first start this season at Detroit, Luke Hochevar pitched seven innings and gave up three solo homers. Tonight he had six innings and gave up two more solo homers. The third Tigers run scored on a ground out after two singles in the second. Despite giving up just three runs, he took the loss.
This was just that kind of game. The Royals weren’t going to do anything against Verlander. He looked as good as any pitcher this season. I don’t know of any lineup that would have hit him.
In the past three games, the Royals have gotten four hits, sixteen hits and three hits.
Chris Getz didn’t start the sixteen hit game. You can draw your own conclusions.
The bottom of the lineup has been a pit most nights. Matt Treanor has had his moments and he walks. Alcides Escobar had a big hit against the Yankees on Thursday.
For the most part though, if the #8 spot leads off the inning (and Getz is in the #1 spot) it’s almost a free inning for the opposing team. Sure, most studies show that a lineup isn’t that big of a factor, but when the Royals have four regulars with an OPS above .800 (with Melky Cabrera close at .789 entering today) and Mike Aviles at .802 playing part time, it’s a killer when Escobar and Getz can’t get their OPS above .600.
Tonight it didn’t matter. Tomorrow, there may be a rally that dies at the bottom of the order.
The Royals try to regain second place with a win tomorrow. They’ll have to get past Brad Penny (3-3, 4.78) and send Jeff Francis (0-4, 5.09) to hold the Tigers at bay. Neither starter pitched in the April Royals/Tigers series.
As for tonight – at least we didn’t get no-hit.