Judging the Royals

The Royals’ starting pitching was overmatched in Detroit

Kansas City Royals pitcher Jakob Junis worked against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday at Comerica Park in Detroit.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Jakob Junis worked against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday at Comerica Park in Detroit. Tribune News Services

In the first and third games of the Royals’ series in Detroit, the Tigers pitched Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer. Verlander had started 367 games, won a Cy Young, an MVP and been to six All-Star Games. Fulmer had started 40 games and was last season’s Rookie of the Year.

The Royals countered with Matt Strahm and Jakob Junis; between them, they had seven big-league starts.

The results were what you’d expect.

On Thursday afternoon, the Royals lost the third game of the series when Fulmer pitched great and Junis didn’t. After 36 pitches from Fulmer, the Royals still didn’t have a hit; after 13 pitches from Junis, the Tigers were up 3-0.

In the future, Matt Strahm and Jake Junis might become fine starting pitchers, but this week in Detroit they were overmatched.

How Junis lost on Thursday, but might help the Royals win on Saturday

A fan that shows up for one game a month wants to see a good one; he’d like to see his team’s manager do everything he can to win that game.

But managers can’t think like that; they have to manage a season, not a single game.

So when Junis fell behind 3-0 after three batters and 6-0 after four innings, Ned Yost had to decide how much pitching he was going to squander on a game the Royals were unlikely to win.

Even though Junis was scuffling, Ned let him keep throwing. Junis made it through six innings and that meant Ned was able to save some bullpen innings for Saturday’s doubleheader against the Twins.

If a reliever helps the Royals win on Saturday, it might be because Jake Junis pitched six innings on Thursday.

When a missed catch is not an error

During the Detroit series Eric Hosmer hit a grounder that forced Tiger’s second baseman Ian Kinsler to go to his right. The ball looked catchable, but went under Kinsler’s glove and Hosmer was awarded a hit.

Was that good or bad scorekeeping?

If a fielder fails to catch a catchable ball cleanly, shouldn’t that be called an error?

Depends on where the infielder was when he missed the catch.

A while back some of the Royals complained when Mike Moustakas got hit with an error on a ball down the third baseline. (BTW: Moustakas wasn’t one of the complainers.) The ball went off Moustakas’ glove, but if he’d caught it cleanly, his momentum would have carried Moustakas into foul territory.

We’ve seen Moustakas do it before, but is throwing a runner out at first base from foul territory over by third base a play that can be made with “ordinary effort?”

If not, the batter should have been awarded a hit.

Had Kinsler picked the Hosmer grounder cleanly, he still would have been moving away from first base and had to spin and make a throw across his body; once again not a play that could be made with ordinary effort.

The scorekeeper in Detroit got it right.

How outfielders make errors on easy plays

In the ninth inning of Thursday’s game, Eric Hosmer hit a line drive to Justin Upton. The Tigers left fielder ran in, but missed what looked like an easy catch.

If you want to know how an outfielder can miss an easy catch, you’ve come to the right place.

When humans run, they run on their toes. When humans slow down, they slow down on their heels — big-league outfielders can’t afford to do that. Slowing down on your heels makes your head bob and a bobbing head can easily translate into a missed catch, so big-league outfielders have to learn to slow down on their toes.

Upton might have missed the ball because he was slowing down and let his head bob or he might have missed it because it was a low, sinking liner he lost in the upper deck crowd.

Unfortunately, when it comes to making errors in the outfield, I speak from experience.

The Royals need to win in their division

Losing 7-3 to the Tigers on Thursday means the Royals have lost another series in their division.

As of Friday morning the Royals are 3 1/2 games behind the Indians and 1 1/2 games behind the Twins. If the Royals are going to win the American league Central, they need to start beating divisional opponents and this weekend would be a good time to start; in three days the Royals will play four games against the Twins.

Another big series starts Friday night.