Royals

Before the rain, Indians reign supreme over Royals rookie Eric Skoglund

Eric Skoglund discusses his second career start

Royals rookie Eric Skoglund allowed four runs in two innings in an 8-0 loss to the Indians on Sunday.
Up Next
Royals rookie Eric Skoglund allowed four runs in two innings in an 8-0 loss to the Indians on Sunday.

Five days after the perfect debut, Eric Skoglund had to settle for a lesson in how baseball usually goes. Magical nights can’t last forever. Reality is always there, ready to snap back squarely in your face. So five days after a goosebump-inducing standing ovation Tuesday night, the second start of his career ended with a downpour.

There was rain, of course, an afternoon storm Sunday that prompted a one-hour, 50-minute delay, limited Skoglund’s outing to just two innings and offered an easy metaphor for this performance.

In an 8-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians, Skoglund was jolted for four runs in two innings, his day ruined in moments in the second inning. Just days after limiting the Detroit Tigers to zero runs in 6  1/3 innings in his first career start, Skoglund allowed a pair of two-run doubles in the top of the second — the first to Indians catcher Roberto Perez, the second to left fielder Daniel Robertson.

“I felt pretty good,” Skoglund said. “I made some mistakes on pitches up that you won’t get away with up here.”

In this case, there were two: Perez pounced on a 2-0 fastball after Skoglund fell behind, ripping a line drive into the left-center-field gap. Two batters later, Robertson lashed an 0-1 fastball into the right-field corner with two outs, stretching the Indians’ lead to 4-0.

“You don’t want to get to a 3-0 count,” Skoglund said. “That’s how important first-pitch strikes are here. I didn’t take advantage. I didn’t execute.”

The rain came a short while later, interrupting the game in the bottom of the second. The tarp remained on the field for more than an hour, the storms lingering in the area. Inside a tunnel near the Royals’ clubhouse, Skoglund attempted to stay warm for close to 30 minutes. But after more than an hour, the delay would end his afternoon.

It will not, however, end his time in the rotation. With Danny Duffy out for six to eight weeks, and Nathan Karns’ recovery from arm soreness coming along slowly, the Royals will likely need Skoglund to start Friday in San Diego.

“I need starters,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I don’t have Karns. I don’t have Duffy. So I imagine he’s going to get another start. That’s not a fair judge right there (on Sunday).”

The game resumed at 3:46 p.m. Skoglund was replaced by left-hander Travis Wood, whose nightmarish season continued when he yielded two runs in the fourth inning. And yet, the bullpen struggles were rendered somewhat meaningless when the offense was shut out for a league-leading sixth time.

The Royals (24-31) still won the series after claiming victories on Friday and Saturday. And they are 3-3 on the home stand. But they could not finish off what would have been their third sweep of the season — and first since three straight wins over Baltimore during May 12-14.

The Indians (29-26) salvaged a victory on their way out of town, and now the Royals will play host to the beastly Houston Astros, owners of the American League’s best record (41-16), a 10-game winning streak, and the most potent offense in the league.

The Royals took two of three in Houston during the season’s first week, one blown save away from a sweep. But two months later, the challenge appears ever more daunting as the four-game series begins Monday night.

On Sunday, the Royals’ offense was neutralized by Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who lasted 1  2/3 innings before the rain delay, and a cavalcade of relief arms. The final score indicated a blowout. Yet, the most important out was secured by Indians reliever Dan Otero, who took over after the rain delay and faced catcher Drew Butera with two men on base and the count 2-0 in the second inning.

Otero fired an 88 mph sinker near the bottom of the strike zone. Butera popped out after one pitch, ending the inning.

“Part of the reason we were threatening was the rain,” Yost said. “Bauer was having trouble gripping the ball (before the delay). He put us in that spot.”

Before the delay, second baseman Whit Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 19 games, the longest in the majors this year. After collecting three hits, he is batting .409 with a .636 slugging percentage during the stretch, cementing his spot as the starting second baseman — even if he continues to hit at the bottom of the lineup.

“You just hope that you can get back into it,” Yost said. “You know with the two-hour rain delay that you’re going to have to go to your pen. But if you can pick up a run or two there, at least you’re still in the game at that point.”

As the day began, Skoglund had arrived at Kauffman Stadium, hoping to replicate his masterful performance from his debut. In 6  1/3 innings, he had given up just two hits while striking out five in a 1-0 victory Tuesday. For 90 pitches, he had exhibited sterling command and preternatural poise.

Five days later, Skoglund offered a glimpse of some of that in the top of the first inning, working around a two-out double by shortstop Francisco Lindor and striking out Carlos Santana to end the inning.

But Skoglund stumbled in the top of the second. Finally, reality. He allowed a leadoff single to Edwin Encarnacion on a 2-2 slider. He issued a one-out walk to Austin Jackson. And after striking out Bradley Zimmer, Skoglund could not secure the final out of the inning, allowing a two-run double to Perez, a walk to Jason Kipnis and another double to Robertson.

“Walks and doubles in the second inning,” Yost said. “Two walks. Two doubles. Four runs on the board. Just a little bit of a command (problem).”

Kipnis added a solo homer against right-hander Chris Young in the sixth. Robertson, a journeyman who has spent time with the Rangers, Angels and Mariners — and entered Sunday hitting just .212 in 14 games — finished 2 for 5 with three RBIs. The Cleveland offense took advantage of eight walks issued by the Royals pitching staff.

The result was a loss — one that took nearly five hours and offered a lesson to a rookie left-hander.

Indians 8, Royals 0

Cleveland

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Kipnis 2b

2

2

1

2

1

0

.232

Gonzalez 2b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.267

Robertson lf

5

0

2

3

0

0

.237

Lindor ss

5

0

1

0

0

0

.268

Santana 1b

3

1

0

0

2

1

.227

Encarnacion dh

4

1

1

0

1

1

.231

Ramirez 3b

4

0

2

0

0

1

.291

Jackson rf

2

2

1

0

2

0

.268

Zimmer cf

3

1

0

0

1

1

.277

R.Perez c

3

1

1

2

1

0

.136

Totals

32

8

9

7

8

4

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Young p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Escobar ss

4

0

0

0

0

1

.179

Moustakas 3b

3

0

1

0

0

0

.255

Cuthbert 3b

1

0

0

0

0

1

.182

Cain cf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.273

Burns cf

1

0

0

0

0

1

.000

Hosmer 1b

3

0

1

0

0

1

.305

Young p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

S.Perez ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.254

Bonifacio rf

3

0

0

0

1

2

.281

Merrifield 2b

4

0

3

0

0

0

.307

Moss dh-1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.186

Butera c

3

0

1

0

0

0

.239

Gordon lf

2

0

0

0

1

0

.173

Totals

32

0

7

0

2

7

Cleveland

040

211

000

8

9

0

Kansas City

000

000

000

0

7

1

E: Merrifield (4). LOB: Cleveland 6, Kansas City 7. 2B: Robertson (2), Lindor (15), Jackson (7), R.Perez (2). HR: Kipnis (7), off Young. RBIs: Kipnis 2 (22), Robertson 3 (4), R.Perez 2 (8). SF: Kipnis.

Runners left in scoring position: Cleveland 3 (Lindor, Santana, Zimmer); Kansas City 2 (Escobar, Butera). RISP: Cleveland 3 for 8; Kansas City 0 for 3. GIDP: Encarnacion, Cain, Bonifacio. DP: Cleveland 2 (Lindor, Santana), (Lindor, Kipnis, Santana); Kansas City 1 (Merrifield, Escobar, Moss).

Cleveland

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Bauer

1 2/3

2

0

0

1

0

30

5.83

Otero, W, 1-0

2 1/3

1

0

0

0

1

16

3.22

McAllister

1 2/3

2

0

0

1

0

34

2.31

Shaw

1 1/3

1

0

0

0

1

17

2.45

Miller

1

0

0

0

0

3

14

0.33

Allen

1

1

0

0

0

2

18

2.49

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Skoglnd, L, 1-1

2

4

4

4

2

2

46

4.32

Wood

1 2/3

3

2

2

2

1

49

9.31

Maness

1 1/3

1

1

0

1

0

28

3.72

Young

2

1

1

1

2

1

45

5.93

Young

2

1

1

1

2

1

45

5.93

McCarthy

2

0

0

0

1

0

33

0.00

Inherited runners-scored: Shaw 1-0, Maness 2-0.

Umpires: Home, Jerry Meals; First, Chris Conroy; Second, Tom Woodring; Third, Ed Hickox.

Time: 2:58. Att.: 28,185.

  Comments