Pre-game, Wil Myers met with the Royals media for the first time since joining the Tampa Bay Rays. He was quiet in his demeanor, happy to be there, and appreciative of his roots.
When asked what he was looking forward to, Myers discussed his hopes of launching a home run into the fountains. It was something he always dreamed of since he joined the Royals farm system, and as the story goes, he once even asked if the waterfalls could be turned on for a batting practice in 2009 during a work out at Kauffman Stadium, shortly after he was drafted. The answer was no.
Unfortunately for Myers, batting practice was cancelled by Joe Maddon for the next few games, to give his offense some rest before the home stretch, so there would be no early chances. If Myers was going to hit one into the drink, he'd have to do it in his first appearance against the Royals.
David DeJesus played his second consecutive night at lead off, and continued his hot hitting ways by... drawing a walk.
Jeremy Hellickson was batting long at bats right out of the gate, and everything was headed to Matt Joyce in left field. Alex Gordon led with a soft single to left, Emilio Bonifacio singled on a liner, Hosmer flew out, the Billy Butler cut one between Longoria and Escobar. Joyce's throw to home tailed away from the plate, and the first run scored.
From there, Hellickson recovered with two groundball outs, but the Royals held an early 1-0 lead.
The Rays got the lead off hitter aboard again in Matt Joyce, who continued to soak up the spot light by hitting an infield pop up to the pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. At least, that's who got the credit, as three infielders converged and no one called the ball properly.
(via Jason Collette)
There were subtle cheers for Myers in his first at bat -- though that may have been a product of the sparse crowd for the 1:00 local start -- and after a few hacks Myers flew out to center. No splash. Loney and Lobaton followed suit, and Joyce was stranded.
Justin Maxwell, acquired from Houston by GM Dayton Moore mid-season, led with a walk, and the the Royals went meekly.
On two outs, the Rays tried their first answer when DeJesus and Zobrist hit strong line drives to get on base, but Longoria went down swinging after a seven-pitch at bat.
Then all Hellickson broke loose: Single, walk, RBI single, RBI double, sac fly, RBI single, (stolen base), fly out, strike out.
Matt Joyce led the fourth with a double up the right field line off an easy sinker.
Myers saw ten pitches in a hard fought at bat, but took a change up for a called strike. Guthrie was showing signs of weakness, however, and started throwing far outside the zone. On a 2-0 count he came back to the center of the plate, and James Loney was able to drive Joyce home.
Lobaton took a page out of Joyce's book and hit a double past first base. The ball stuck in the outfield corner, but Loney was held at third base and Lobaton credited his 12th double on the season. Rays Radio, today's only broadcast option, said it was a good call.
After a full-count Kelly Johnson pop up, Escobar was patient to draw three balls, and then walk to load the bases on a full count. David DeJesus was faced with his first bases loaded situation in a Rays jersey, and with two outs, took a 1-2 slider high above the letters for a called third strike, ending the threat.
Joe Maddon came out to argue the call, and was promptly thrown out of the game. It was a border line call, but one DeJesus probably should have offered at. Home plate umpire Greg Gibson was calling high in the zone a strike all game.
Cesar Ramos shook off the dust to relieve the 68-pitch used Hellickson. He allowed a single and steal to Emilio Bonfiacio, but other wise took care of the Royals. One contested shot went to a difficult portion of center fied, but DeJesus charged well and nabbed the Mike Moustakas fly ball to end the inning.
Guthrie returned for the fifth, and allowed strongly hit fly balls by Zobrist and Longoria, but both found gloves. Joyce would not go down so easily, fouling a pitch and taking a walk in a smart at bat, bringing up the third appearance of Wil Myers.
The young Wil Myers fouled a change up, missed badly on a slider, survived a bit of trickery from Guthrie (who side armed and threw ball one unexpectedly), laid off another ball, and then popped out with an infield fly. All the anticipation, leading no where.
Ramos returned with no stirring in the pen. Zobrist made a nice over the shoulder grab for the first out, Maxwell tapped out to first base, and DeJesus fought the sun and caught a first pitch flyball by Alcides Escobar.
The Rays went in order as well. Tim Collins replaced Guthrie and earned quick groundouts of Loney and Johnson, with a Lobaton strikeout in between.
Ramos returned with seven outs under his belt, a move of desperation to spare the pen or a vote of confidence in the seldom used longman, and the Royals led with what seemed like the team's fifth bloop single at the hands of center fielder Jarrod Dyson. He'd swipe second base during the next at bat, and after eight pitches, Gordon hit a slider letter-high to the right field wall.
Myers got a late jump when tracking the ball, and it caromed away from Wil off the right field wall. Gordon tripled for KC's tenth hit and sixth run.
Zobrist collected a groundball and Kelly Johnson, playing third, caught a fly ball to hold the runner -- Butler was then intentionally walked a second time by Ramos. Moustakas was able to cause damage this time around, flaring a four-seamer into center field -- Ramos's 49th pitch -- scoring yet another run.
After a called strike low, Salvador Perez took hold of a four seamer inside at 91 and put it into the outfield bullpen. The homerun would score three, and make the score 10-1 Royals.
Wesley Wright finished the frame, downing Maxwell on four pitches looking, placing his two-seamer well and using the change only once.
The offense still wasn't showing up. S-Rod subbed abd grounded out, DeJesus popped out, and Zobrist lined out.
When Wright returned, he'd only use his change up once, an 0-1 ball before a ground out to start the bottom of the seventh. The following at bat was a ground out as well, and five of the six combined pitches in the at bat were two-seamers; notable, as Wright boasts an incredible change up with sweeping movement, but has seldom found success on the fastball. Trusting his old process, Wright did well, and finished the frame with a strikeout featuring the two-seam again.
Louis Coleman took over the mound, and Longoria went down looking on three pitches for the first out. Joyce continued to be the attention grabber, doubling into right field and giving Myers another chance with a man on base, but it would be for naught.
Wil Myers, facing his last chance of his rookie campaign to find the outfield sinks, and promptly struck out with two big cuts amid a four pitch at bat. So there's that, Royals fans. Confirmation bias.
Loney worked eight pitches, then Maxwell made a sliding grab to keep the score at a nine run lead.
Wright returned and started with four more two-seamers, and then ended the second at bat of two ground outs with a slider. His change up missed the zone twice to Billy Butler, but he came back with two low two-seams before leaving one high and inside. Butler crushed it. 11-1 Royals.
Wesley finished off the final out with three two-seamers for another groundout. I have to say, I've been thrilled to have Wright come in and show what he can do with his devastating change up, but today it was nothing but fastball, with decent results: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 K -- 5 GB, 0 FB.
Lobaton, Johnson, Rodriguez up to face Aaron Crow. Fly to center, ground out to second, and OH, look a walk!
DeJesus got another at bat in the stadium of the franchise that raised him. He sent a 1-2 fastball to the right field wall, but Maxwell was able to make the leaping catch and end the game.
- The decision to pull Hellickson with less than 70 pitches was sound, in my opinion. Hellboy has looked tired on the mound over his last few starts. The fastball wasn't there, command loose and velocity down. Pulling him early with five runs allowed was reasonable, if anything just to cool his jets. The only worry is the tax on the bullpen. The Rays will have just one more day off before the end of the season, and will need to rely on their starters to carry the load. Fortunately, rosters will also expand in just a few days, opening up opportunities for Kirby Yates, Brandon Gomes, C.J. Riefenhauser, Alex Colome, Josh Lueke, and more.
- The Royals didn't go down in-order until the fifth inning.
- Ramos wasn't pitching poorly, but the fastball lost all its movement late in his appearance, and that led to a five-run sixth inning. Less Ramos's "fault" and more a function of exhaustion. Either way, not getting results can be uninspiring.
- Wil Myers: 0-4, 2 K, 4 LOB.
The Royals would be in the playoffs if they could just play Tampa Bay every day. Weird.— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) August 26, 2013