Well that didn’t take long. May, on paper, looked to be the ideal time to close the gap with the Tigers. The Royals had a wonderful chance to kick-start this important month, starting their “ace”, James Shields, against one of Detroit’s back-end options, Rick Porcello.
Shields pitched on a Friday night at home, against an inferior pitcher, who’s throwing for a team the Royals have to over come. Shields laid an absolute egg. As far as May games go, this was a huge one. He blew the opportunity, plain and simple.
Don’t let Saturday’s 9-2 score fool you. The Royals lost this game with pathetic hitting, a scoop of lackluster defense, and some stupid base running sprinkled on top. Danny Duffy consistently flirted with disaster, because he’s a squirrel, and that’s what they do. That said, he should not have given up a single run in his 4 innings, and probably could have thrown a fifth. Anyone rooting for KC would have signed up for those results. Considering how he labored, it was a gift. A gift returned by Gold Glove winning Alex Gordon.
Alex Gordon‘s mental error allowed, coaxed, and enabled a lumbering Miggy Cabrera to tag on a short line drive to left field for the game’s first run. Meanwhile the Royals managed no runs and 2 measly hits against another back-end, Tiger option, Drew Smyly. One of those hits was a single by Danny Valencia that ended in an out when he tried to stretch his lonely single into a double. Apparently Danny has been drinking Mountain Dew with Eric Hosmer before games. Nori Aoki did all he could to turn whispers into screams about his horrendous routes to anything resembling a line drive. Look for the Royals to sign him to an extension because he’s such a perfect fit ($) for this ball-park. Justin Maxwell confirmed he’s not a viable center field replacement, and that his spot on the roster has more to do with sentiment, and management’s stubborn immaturity than the team’s needs.
Sunday went exactly how it should have gone. Horribly. The Tigers, and their Cy Young winning pitcher, beat down the Royals and their version of a major free agent addition to their rotation. Again, the game was not as pretty as the 9-4 score looks. It was 7-0 Tigers in the fifth, the only intrigue being Verlander’s no hit bid that he lost with two outs in the 6th. Jason Vargas has been good, better than expected, but you don’t expect him to beat Justin Verlander. It is not reasonable to expect Vargas to put up an All-Star quality performance every time out.
But you do expect the team to compete. Instead, the Royals laid down, while dropping a cherry on top of this disgraceful sundae of a series. Not only did the Tigers sweep the Royals, the Royals failed to even compete with the Tigers. All of this at home. This is what happens when a horrendous lineup only gets average starting pitching help from their rotation. It is hard to say if it’s the talent in this lineup, the attitude of this line up, or the strategic approach employed by this line up that’s making it so horrible. What’s not hard to say? As it’s now constructed, as it’s now working, this lineup does not compete for the division, and will be lucky to hang in the Wild Card Race.
We can hope Moose gets better, that Aoki adjusts to the new ball park, that Duffy becomes that fifth starter, and that Escobar stays relevant at the plate. To a certain extent, that’s all just noise. None of that matters if Shields, Gordon, Hosmer, and Billy Butler don’t play like men when it counts. It counts now. Guys, it’s counted all season.
It’s time to ask the question. What the hell is going on with the Royals? Why haven’t any of their good players become great? Why are guys like Moose and Duffy still fringe big leaguers? Most importantly why aren’t these players, and their skipper, furious with losing? Eric Hosmer blamed the media for making losing streaks happen over the weekend. The KC Star just had a column about the Royals and their relationship with their prickly fan base. Where do you think that came from guys? Sounds like Royals leadership isn’t enjoying the weight of reasonable, adult expectations. Oh ravenous KC Royals fans…be nice to them, please?
The Royals leaders employ a very gentle, coddling culture for the players and themselves, and it has expired in a major way. It’s big boy time. If the Royals are under .500 on June 1st, it’s time for major changes, starting with their security blanket manager. It’s time for this team, this entire team, to grow the hell up. The fan base finally has.