If you watched the Royals 2-0 loss to the White Sox to start the homestand, you might have been better off taking a walk, reading a book, or doing just about anything.
For whatever reason, there just wasn’t any energy on the home team side in an important start to a winnable series. John Danks has been good against the Royals in the past – he had a 2.74 ERA entering the game in 75.2 career innings against Kansas City – but the Royals did their best to make it easy on him. Danks threw 100 pitches over eight innings and cruised later in the game. In innings seven and eight, he threw 14 pitches.
The Royals got eight hits, but were caught in two double plays and had one pickoff. They made five outs on the first pitch to four batters (including a double play by Billy Butler in the first inning). Three batters advanced beyond first base all night.
Obviously, that won’t get it done.
But beyond the offensive problems, there were lapses in the field and on the basepaths. In the second inning, Justin Maxwell caught a floating liner in right field and came up firing to home. It was a good throw and he got rid of it quickly. One issue – there had been no runner on third base. Avisail Garcia stood on second base, looking puzzled after the play. Thankfully, he didn’t advance.
On the bases, Chris Getz was caught rounding second on a hit and run call while a Jamey Carroll fly ball was caught in center field and Getz was doubled up. He later got picked off at first by Danks. Ned Yost said there was a hit and run on again when Getz was caught flat-footed. Yost said after the game that “that can’t happen”.
And, as if the poor offense and mistakes weren’t enough, the stadium even fought against the Royals. While a solo homer by Gordon Beckham in the first would have been enough for a Chicago win, a pitch by Ervin Santana in the second got past Salvador Perez and to the backstop, but instead of being recovered, it caromed up into the rotating advertising display behind home plate. By the ground rules, Paul Konerko advanced home and Garcia moved up to second.
The loss is the Royals third in a row and their sixth in their last eight games. They have some significant work to do to stay relevant in the playoff race. Ervin Santana pitched well enough to win. The bullpen held Chicago scoreless. Eric Hosmer continues to hit. But that’s about all that’s going right at the moment.
After the game, Yost was asked if there was a sparkplug in the lineup. He mentioned Hosmer, Getz and then struggled to name anyone else before offering Maxwell as another key batter.
That’s just not enough. Pitching and defense can win a lot of games, and it’s been the Royals formula for success this year. But holding opponents to two runs a game makes no difference if you’re going to score none. This lineup without Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain in it is having trouble getting anything going. David Lough has struggled in the last week, but he’d had a five game hitting streak up until a hitless August 13 game. He’s been solid most of the year, but his playing time has been scaled back slightly with Emilio Bonifacio in the mix in center field.
Jeremy Guthrie gets the ball on Wednesday. His first two starts against the White Sox were stellar, but on June 21, he got rocked for six runs in just 2.1 innings. Feast or famine. Hopefully the Royals come out hungrier tomorrow than they did on Tuesday.