If left to my own devices, tonight’s game recap would be about 400 words of profanity. I would likely mix in some drunken sobbing as well, but nothing can be promised there. Instead, let’s actually recap this punch to the gut, where the Kansas City Royals managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in their 5-4 twelfth inning loss.
In doing so, they wasted what was the best start that Johnny Cueto has had in over a month. He finally started to look like the ace the Royals had thought they acquired, taking care of the Tigers lineup for most of the game. While it did not appear as though Cueto was going to calm anyone’s nerves after an RBI to Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the first, he settled in once Cabrera was erased trying to score on Victor Martinez‘ single to center.
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However, the Royals were unable to muster any offense against Justin Verlander, who appeared to have turned back the clock to when he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. After getting only one hit through the first four innings, the Royals broke through in the fifth. With two outs, Paulo Orlando doubled to left, plating Alex Rios to knot the game.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the eighth. Cueto gave up a leadoff double to Anthony Gose, then was pulled for Wade Davis. Davis, instead of his normal shutdown self, was mortal, allowing a base hit and a sacrifice fly as the Tigers took the lead. After an errant pickoff and a walk, another sacrifice fly gave the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
Verlander came out for the ninth, and got the first two outs quickly. Then Eric Hosmer singled, prompting Brad Ausmus to turn to the bullpen as he summoned Alex Wilson, a move henceforth known as Mistake #1. Wilson threw two pitches to Salvador Perez, with the second being launched into the Royals dugout in left center to tie the game.
That score held up until the twelfth inning. The Royals, facing Drew VerHagen, put runners at the corners with one out. Paulo Orlando grounded out, plating the go ahead run to give the Royals a 4-3 advantage.
In years past, this would have signalled the end, as Greg Holland was summoned to close out the contest. Instead, Holland continued to be his shaky self, loading the bases with one out. Again, Holland appeared to be about to squirm out of the jam, as he struck out Victor Martinez for the second out, but he walked Tyler Collins on five pitches to force in the tying run. Then, on a 2-2 pitch, Dixon Machado singled to left to plate the game winning run in the 5-4 loss.
Yes, this may be one game, but for some reason, this feels different. The Royals finally got the start they needed out of Cueto, and battled back to take the lead in the twelfth. A victory could have catapulted the Royals back on the right track, proving to them that they can, indeed, overcome the odds. Instead, this loss was a true punch to the gut.