The Baltimore Orioles came into Kauffman Stadium Thursday night to begin a four game series, providing quite a stark contrast from the Royals previous series opponents, the Twins. This was a game between two bad teams, one riding a four game losing streak, the other on a five game skid. But somebody had to win, and unfortunately for Royals fans it was the Orioles, 6-5, in eleven innings.
Mistakes in all phases of the game were plentiful. In spite of that it was still an entertaining and close fought contest, proving the old adage that even bad baseball is better than no baseball – something Royals and Orioles fans know as well as anyone.
Royals starter Kyle Davies gave up six hits, four walks, and four runs in five and two thirds innings. In addition to the walks, he also threw two wild pitches which led to an Orioles run in the second, and his teammates reciprocated with two errors of their own – one by Yuniesky Betancourt which led to a run in the sixth, and another by second baseman Mike Aviles in the eighth. Aviles had another misplay in the second inning (not technically an error), when he made a high throw to second base on what should have been a routine double play.
Not to be outdone, Orioles starter Brian Matusz walked four in just three and a third innings, including a bases loaded walk to Wilson Betemit in the Royals five run fourth inning, which also featured a bobble by Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and a poor throw by third baseman Ty Wigginton.
The Orioles scored the winning run in the top of the eleventh due in part to a poorly executed rundown of a base runner caught in a hotbox trying to score from third on a ground ball. The inning began with a walk by Royals reliever Blake Wood, followed by a single from Brian Roberts which moved the lead runner Izturis to third. The next batter, Nick Markakis hit a grounder which Aviles threw home well ahead of Izturis trying to score, but during the ensuing rundown, Royals catcher Jason Kendall didn’t force Izturis all the way back to third for the tag, and instead allowed him to keep the rundown alive long enough to get Roberts to third base, and Markakis to second, with only one out. The next batter, Wigginton, hit a sacrifice fly to score Roberts, and that was that.
On the plus side, the Royals did get their customary ten hits, including doubles by Kendall and Billy Butler. They just weren’t enough to overcome two homers from the Orioles, to go along with eight walks from Royals pitchers, and all the defensive miscues.
The Royals have now won just three of their last seventeen games, a stunning turnaround from the surge of optimism the team generated before the All Star break with a nice stretch of wins that got them within eight games of the division leaders. The biggest thing Royals fans have to look forward to now are trades, rumors of trades, temper tantrums, tirades, and call-ups from the minors.
Still, many Royals players have much on the line in the next two months. Gordon, Aviles, Getz, Maier, Davies, Bannister, just to name a few. Then there’s the coaching staff and the front office. It will be interesting to see how things develop as another failed season heads down the stretch.