The Royals scored one run Friday against the Cleveland Indians. On Saturday they scored one more, on Sunday they didn’t score at all. But in those three games the Royals faced some very good starting pitchers.
On Monday, they didn’t have that excuse.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Wright came into Monday’s game with an ERA of 5.88. In his previous appearance, on June 1 against the Red Sox, Wright gave up four homers and six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Wright is the kind of pitcher that gets another team well, but the Royals still couldn’t take advantage. Monday night Wright stuck around for seven innings, never gave up an earned run and the Royals lost their fifth game in a row, 4-1.
The Royals are currently 13th in the American League in runs scored and the only good news about that is they were 10th in the league in runs scored last year and still won a World Series.
They get another chance Tuesday to beat a struggling pitcher; Ubaldo Jimenez is 2-6 with a 6.59 ERA. In his last outing Jimenez gave up five runs in five innings.
Even the worst losing streaks have to end sometime; Tuesday night seems like a good chance to break this one.
Danny Duffy did his job
For a moment, let’s go back to 2015; how the heck do you win a championship when you’re 10th in runs scored?
You do it by giving up fewer runs than all but two other teams. It’s pretty obvious, but people sometimes obsess about offense and forget this simple fact; if you keep runs off the board you don’t have to score so many yourself.
Danny Duffy gave the Royals what they needed Monday: a quality start. And for the most part, Duffy did it with two pitches; a fastball and a changeup. Duffy’s fastball is hard and has good life at the end and that makes his changeup devastating. Gear up to hit 95 mph and 85 will make you look silly.
Duffy did not throw his third-best pitch — a slider — until he faced lefty Chris Davis for the third time. Left-handed pitchers rarely throw left-handed batters changeups because it’s a pitch that moves down and in to lefties and that tends to be their nitro zone.
Third time through the order Duffy wanted to show Davis something other than a fastball and struck him out on a slider.
How Jonathan Schoop hit Cheslor Cuthbert with a throw
If you watched Monday night’s game you were probably at least momentarily horrified when the Baltimore Orioles tried to turn a double play and second baseman Jonathan Schoop managed to drill Cheslor Cuthbert in the funny bone with a throw. (And if we can ever find the guy who decided to call that thing a funny bone we ought to sue him for false advertising; when it gets hit, there’s nothing funny about it.)
Apparently Schoop saw that he was not going to be able to throw out Jarrod Dyson at first base, changed his mind, tried to hold onto the ball but lost his grip on it.
If that’s the way it happened, it was unnecessary.
Infielders need to know the speed of the runners and when Dyson put the ball in play — a soft chopper to short — Schoop should have realized he would have no play at first base; Dyson runs too well.
If Cuthbert got smoked for some other reason, I take all that back.
If Whit Merrifield is the second baseman, why won’t Ned Yost say so?
If Whit Merrifield starts at second base four days in a row, we want to know if he’s now the starting second baseman. But managers try not to paint themselves in a corner.
If Ned Yost says Merrifield is the guy and then Merrifield goes into a slump and Omar Infante gets another chance, Ned looks wishy-washy. Better to say this is how we’re doing it for a while and give yourself some wiggle room if and when the situation changes.
So far Merrifield is outhitting Infante by a wide margin and if you pay attention to defense you’ve seen Merrifield demonstrate range Infante doesn’t have. Merrifield also has a better arm. And Merrifield has already stolen more bases in 16 games than Infante did in 124 games last season.
So if you had two players and one of them had a better bat, a better arm, more range and ran faster, who would you start?
On the other hand: the Royals are now paying millions of dollars to a guy who isn’t playing and that always looks bad. But it’s much better to admit the situation has changed than keep running a guy out there when you have a better option sitting on the bench.
Forget your pride, play your best option and get vague when someone asks you questions.
But will Merrifield stay at second?
Guys who can adequately play six or seven positions are a rarity; they give a manager flexibility, so those true utility players are very valuable.
Right now Merrifield appears to be the Royals best option at second base, but Merrifield is still valuable if he cools down because of his ability to play multiple positions. Don’t be surprised if Merrifield eventually winds up as a utility player.