The KC Royals lost again Monday night in Minnesota. How it happened really wasn’t surprising.
That four runs were once again enough to win a KC Royals-Minnesota Twins game came as no surprise Monday night.
That the Royals were depressingly unproductive with runners in scoring position also wasn’t surprising.
Nor was the fact Nelson Cruz continued to own Kansas City.
And finally, that the Royals again failed to hit particularly well was…well, no surprise at all.
No, Monday night’s game at Target Field, the final contest in a four-game wraparound series and, mercifully, the last time the KC Royals have to visit Target this season, was representative of the way the club loses too many of its games. A maddening inability to score runs offset some serviceable pitching.
The Royals’ lack of a consistently competent offense now inherently and unavoidably belabors analysis of their games. The one run they scored in losing 4-1 Monday brought their 23-game season total to 93, a 4.04 average that ranks 12th in the American League and 20th in the majors. They averaged 2.25 in going 1-3 in this series.
Kansas City managed seven hits in Monday’s loss–Hunter Dozier’s solo homer accounted for the lone Royal run, Jorge Soler and Maikel Franco both doubled, but the rest were singles that eventually led nowhere.
The club left seven runners on base and was 1-for-7 with men in scoring position.
Adalberto Mondesi remained in a painful slump; he was 0-for-3 and has just two hits in his last seven games. He’s hitting .224 in August, .217 for the season.
Alex Gordon had a single but is batting only .182. He hit a scorcher to the right side with one out and a runner on in the ninth, but the Twins turned it into a game-ending double play.
And what opportunities the KC Royals did get didn’t last long. Dozier walked to lead off the second but the next three Royals made outs. Nicky Lopez singled with two gone in the third, but Salvador Perez grounded out to end the inning. (He later left, apparently with a recurrence of the eye issue that kept him out of Sunday’s game).
Gordon walked with an out in the fifth and, after Mondesi made another out, Merrifield singled but was gunned down trying to stretch his hit into a double. Soler’s two-out double the next inning went for naught when Dozier grounded out.
Then, with one out in the seventh, Franco doubled and went to third on Gordon’s single, but Mondesi’s strikeout and Merrifield’s fielder’s choice killed the potential rally.
The pitching could have been better, but certainly wasn’t terrible and was good enough that the game was never out of reach until the Twins turned the double play that ended it. Kris Bubic found himself behind in the count too often, which explains his four walks in 4.1 innings, but he struck out four and continued to display a good presence for a rookie trying to permanently fill a rotation slot.
And the home runs he and Jake Newberry gave up to Cruz can, considering the punishment Cruz routinely inflicts upon the Royals, be understood if not forgiven–Cruz’s two solo shots brought his total homers against the KC Royals to 29 in 93 games. He came into the game with a .921 career OPS versus the club.
Newberry and Ian Kennedy gave up a run apiece; Kyle Zimmer, stellar this season but absent from the mound since Aug. 6, pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and lowered his ERA to 1.00.
Each game of this series was won with four runs; in fact, Monday night’s contest marked the fifth straight time that’s happened, and the first four of those five were 4-2 games.
But that fits perfectly with the way the Royals have lost so many times this season. Good, or at least serviceable, pitching gives them a chance to win (the Royals have given up just 10 more runs than they’ve scored), but the offense fizzles or never gets started at all.
The pattern is now all too common and one Kansas City must break if the club is to have any shot at the postseason or a realistic chance to finish anywhere near .500. Mondesi, Gordon, and others need to hit; the Royals have to find ways to move runners along in scoring position; they can’t count on one player picking up the entire offense, as Merrifield did in the club’s doubleheader nightcap win Saturday; young starters need to minimize mistakes.
There remains, of course, time to improve. Time will tell whether the Royals will.
The Royals lost in familiar fashion Monday. Let’s hope better things are on the horizon.