Over the weekend, the Royals endured what could be the worst start to a homestand in team history.
They lost all three games against division rivals Cleveland. Luke Hochevar gave up seven runs before many fans had even reached their seats for the first time in 2012, then left the game after a line drive hit him in the ankle. Jonathan Sanchez lived up to his worst-case scenario and, despite a spirited comeback, fielding and baserunning errors took the Royals out of position to win a game they could have stolen. The momentum died when the team’s best reliever gave up two runs.
In the third and final game, the Royals brought a depleted bullpen into play and watched Luis Mendoza lose his control, leave the ball up, and ended up with Mitch Maier as the best pitcher all weekend.
In the end, the Royals scored nine and seven runs respectively in games 2 and 3 – and lost both.
They gave up 32 runs. Three different starters allowed at least five runs in one inning. The pitching staff nearly walked as many as they struck out.
So now what?
This was supposed to be Mission 2012. This is supposed to be Our Time, but the Royals have followed up a decent road trip that had their ERA under three to completely blowing up over the weekend.
For the sake of perspective, the Royals had never given up 32 runs in the first three games of a homestand before. The 2005 team gave up 20 in their first three games during a 2-6 start where they gave up a total of 48 runs. That team boasted an opening day rotation of Jose Lima, Runelvys Hernandez, a young Zack Greinke, Denny Bautista and Brian Anderson. They finished a combined 21-51 and Hernandez’s 5.52 ERA was the best of the group.
That team lost 106 games.
In 1981 and 1993, the Royals gave up 27 runs during their first homestands – but they were more than one series. That makes the Royals futility against Cleveland look much worse. They scored runs but gave up so many that they were fighting uphill nearly the whole time. They had a lead for two-thirds of an inning in the entire series, giving up six runs after Luis Mendoza retired the first two Indians in the inning. Four weren’t earned due to a dropped foul pop up that should have ended the inning (and a bad call at first), but he gave up a homer and hit after hit afterward. Can’t blame Hosmer or the ump for Mendoza’s pitching after the plays.
Nonetheless, it’s still very early in the season and nothing went right for the Royals this weekend. The biggest highlight of the series was getting a slight one-up over Cleveland in the bean ball wars (and really it’s one of those moral victories because the Royals didn’t win the game but merely got three Indians ejected).
The weekend was a baseball disaster and the young team will have to learn from it. How they fare going forward could depend on it.