KC Royals: If the magic is coming, it will take some time

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

What happened at Kauffman Stadium Monday night proved at least one thing—what magic new hitting coach Alec Zumwalt may be bring to the KC Royals will take time to conjure up.

Zumwalt, who replaced Terry Bradshaw as the club’s primary hitting guru before Monday’s game, watched from the dugout as his charges’ deeply-rooted batting woes continued for all but one of the 10 innings Kansas City and the White Sox played.

When it was over, the Royals’ 6-for-34 (.176) evening had much to do with why they lost 5-3.

And a pair of former Royals were among those who made this season’s club continue to look bad at the plate.

The KC Royals couldn’t do anything against Chicago starter Johnny Cueto.

More than any other of the five hurlers Chicago manager Tony La Russa deployed Monday night, Johnny Cueto most exploited Kansas City’s weak bats. He retired the first nine he faced, five on strikeouts (he fanned the side in the first) and, thanks to an inning-ending double play in the fourth, faced the minimum through four frames. He threw six masterful, scoreless, two-hit innings.

Cueto, a major player in KC’s 2015 American League pennant-winning and World Series title team after being acquired from the Reds in a trade deadline deal, ended his night by striking out old batterymate Salvador Perez.

With one exception, Chicago’s relief corps held the KC Royals in check.

The Royals’ fortunes at the plate were good only in the eighth inning when they scraped together three runs off Kendall Graveman to tie the game.

An inning before, and in relief of Cueto, Matt Foster retired the side in order (he struck out Hunter Dozier and Bobby Witt Jr.), and Ryan Burr sent KC down 1-2-3 in the ninth.

Another former Royal finished the Royals off after the Sox broke the tie in the 10th on Luis Robert’s two-run homer. Liam Hendriks, who appeared in six games down the stretch as Kansas City drove its way to the 2014 AL pennant, struck out Michael A. Taylor, Nicky Lopez and Kyle Isbel in order to send the Royals away quietly.

This game proved how much work it will take to get the KC Royals on track.

Take the way Chicago throttled the Royals Monday night as evidence that last week’s surprising KC offensive bursts—eight runs against Texas Wednesday and 14 in Colorado Friday—are for now exceptions, not rules. Zumwalt’s arrival, as welcome as it likely is to fans who’ve long demanded such a change, won’t cure this club overnight. Or tomorrow. Or the day after that.

No, Zumwalt’s new assignment is daunting. He’ll require, and deserve, time and patience to solve the problems.

Fortunately, his is a proven methodology—as Kansas City’s Senior Director for Player Development and Hitting Performance before taking over Bradshaw’s job, Zumwalt oversaw organizational efforts that have so far contributed to such success stories as Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez and Vinnie Pasquantino.

Can he bring magic to Kansas City’s bat rack? Probably.

But it will take time.

Next. Can we say Whit is cured?. dark

The Royals are scheduled to play their second and third games under Alec Zumwalt’s watchful eyes in a doubleheader starting at 1:10 p.m. CDT today.