The Royals lost their second straight game in a series they really needed to sweep. Their 4-3 loss on Wednesday eliminated Kansas City from the AL Central race.
The Kansas City Royals fell to 77-75 with their 4-3 loss on Wednesday. Their only slender remaining hope for a playoff spot is to win a wild card. They trail the Baltimore Orioles by 5.0 games for the no. 2 wild card position with 10 games to play. KC must also climb over four other teams to make the playoffs.
Not gonna happen.
What kills me is that winning a wild card was completely within the KC Royals grasp. Had the bullpen taken care of business and not blown six late inning leads since August 31, Kansas City would LEAD the wild card race. Such an expectation would have been reasonable since they hadn’t blown one game that they led after seven innings through August 30.
Had they won five of those six games they’d be tied with the Orioles. Lose two of those games and they’d be a mere one game behind. The bullpen’s September implosion has likely cost the KC Royals a chance to defend their title in the post-season.
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As The Game Turned
The game turned in the fifth inning when Ian Kennedy gave up back to back doubles to Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis to tie the game at 2-2. Francisco Lindor flied out to right field and Mike Napoli popped up to give Kennedy the chance to escape the fifth without further damage, but Jose Ramirez stroked an RBI single to score Kipnis to put Cleveland up 3-2.
Ian Kennedy went 5.2 innings, allowing 10 hits, 2 walks, and 3 earned runs while striking out 4. The loss dropped his record to 11-10. Meanwhile, Cy Young contender Corey Kluber held the Royals scoreless the next half inning, striking out the side in the top of the sixth to compete a string of five straight whiffs.
The Indians tacked on a run in the eighth inning against rookie reliever Kevin McCarthy to extend their lead to 4-2. While it was odd to see a pitcher with an 8.31 ERA pitch in the late innings of a must-win game, manager Ned Yost had few good options. With Joakim Soria‘s funk and Peter Moylan‘s recent ineffectiveness, a rookie with good stuff wasn’t unreasonable. Since he will need Dillon Gee to back up Jason Vargas on Wednesday, I can understand the thinking.
Unfortunately, that insurance run proved costly for Kansas City when catcher Salvador Perez blasted a solo home run off closer Cody Allen to lead off the ninth inning. Alex Gordon then walked to put the tying run on board with no outs. But, Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez nailed pinch runner Terrance Gore trying to steal second. It was the first time Gore had been thrown out in the regular season in 18 attempts in his career.
That, KC Royals fans, was pretty much the ballgame. Alcides Escobar grounded out to second and Cheslor Cuthbert lined out to center. Had Gore stolen second, he probably would have advanced to third on Escobar’s grounder and scored on Cuthbert’s drive to center.