Judging the Royals

Royals show their never-say-die attitude but can’t overcome a few mistakes

Mike Moustakas struck out to end Wednesday’s game against Detroit.
Mike Moustakas struck out to end Wednesday’s game against Detroit. jsleezer@kcstar.com

In the ninth inning Wednesday, with the Royals trailing 3-0 to the Tigers, Alex Gordon homered. Salvador Perez homered two pitches later and the Royals trailed 3-2. Omar Infante made the second out of the inning when he grounded out and that meant the Royals’ last chance was Jarrod Dyson.

Six pitches later Dyson walked; the Royals had the tying run on first base and because Jarrod Dyson is one of the fastest men in baseball, the Royals soon had the tying run on second.

Then Alcides Escobar walked and the Royals had the tying and winning runs on base — The K was rocking.

Unfortunately for the 28,928 Royals fans who showed up to watch the game (I’m kinda assuming about 28,927 of those fans bled blue — it sure sounded that way) Mike Moustakas struck out five pitches later.

After the game, I told Eric Hosmer that I thought the Royals were going to come all the way back.

Hosmer said he always thinks the Royals will come back and after so many narrow escapes from defeat, who can blame him?

It’s hard to say where the Royals never-say-die attitude comes from, but you can do a lot worse than looking at that 2014 AL Wild Card game. When a team puts together one incredible comeback, it leads to others. No matter what situation the Royals find themselves in, they can look back and say we beat the Oakland A’s that night; we can do it again.

And when a team loses a game like that it can lead to other losses; the A’s might look back and say if we lost that game to the Kansas City Royals, we can blow this lead, too. There are innumerable other factors involved, but since the A’s lost that Wild Card game they’ve won 76 games and lost 101.

Expecting to lose can actually lead to losing; expecting to win can actually lead to winning. Right now Eric Hosmer and the Royals expect to — and Wednesday night they came close.

Other stuff

▪ Having said all that, the last couple nights the Royals have caused some of their own problems. Ian Kennedy gave up two runs; one got on by a walk, the other got on by a hit-by-pitch. You want to control everything you can and at least theoretically, you can control walks and hit-by-pitches.

▪ Tuesday night, Royals pitchers were walking Detroit batters even though they had a sizeable lead. When you’re up 5-0, don’t nibble; no matter how far the batter hits the ball, they won’t let him run around the bases five times.

▪ In that Tuesday night game, MLB.com’s scoreboard (great website) said Danny Duffy gave up a home run on a curve, but he doesn’t throw one — Duffy throws a slider.

▪ Same game: third-base coach Mike Jirschele sent Kendrys Morales home with two outs and the throw beat Morales home by a wide margin — but Detroit catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia missed the ball. With two outs, third-base coaches will get very aggressive; if they stop the runner at third, they’re counting on another two-out hit and those can be hard to come by.

▪ Jirschele said he wouldn’t have sent Morales if there had been one out, but with two — and Tigers pitcher Shane Greene pitching well at that point — Jirschele sent Morales and hoped for a defensive mistake. And that’s what happened.

▪ Same game once again; when the Royals had a sizable lead early, a fan wanted to know if Ned Yost ever pulled players in a blowout. But this was the Detroit Tigers and they’re second in the league in batting average and tied for second in runs scored; the Tigers can come back on you so you better keep playing hard.

Thursday night’s game

Edinson Volquez is starting and he’s 2-0 with an ERA of 2.04. But even if the Royals grab a lead, don’t get comfortable. The Tigers have one of the best offenses in the American League and they always have the potential to make a comeback.