It's not easy beating the current Royals. As Dwayne and BA frequently reminded us, they are aggressive. They are gritty. They have heart. They are undeterred by injury. They came from a 7-1 deficit to win a game in the 9th because they never give up.
Apparently every player in their line up has "the red hot" in front of his name -- the red hot Eric Hosmer, followed by the red hot Lorenzo Cain.
Nonetheless there was reason to be optimistic that the Rays could pull out a win. Royals starter Dillon Gee, a soft-tossing righty, has been hittable. Rays pitcher Drew Smyly has been inconsistent but had some reasonable effective outings. And the return of Brad Boxberger would surely give the bullpen a bit more high leverage depth.
The first three innings
At the start of the game, the Rays seemed to have a chance. Smyly got them into a hole, giving up a single to Whit Merrifield, followed by a Lorenzo Cain homerun.
But the Rays were hitting KC starter Dillon Gee pretty well. He has pretty clear splits and the Rays lefties were seeing the ball well against him. Miller doubled in the first inning; in the second singles by Souza and Morrison were followed by the moment we've all been waiting for: Dickerson's big, swinging home run. The Rays have a brief moment of glory with a 3-2 lead.
The Rays gave back the lead in the bottom of the third on a double, walk and single, but the game still looked within reach. Smyly wasn't dominant but he seemed more effective than Gee.
Here's what it looks like when the wheels fall off
The Rays had a very extended but ultimately fruitless fourth, which brings us to the KC half of the fourth inning:
"Single" that is really a pop up between second and center
Bunt single that could have gotten an out at home if Morrison had made a good throw
"Single" on innocent pop up that dropped in
"Double" that's really a ground ball that Pearce can't quite handle
Fly ball out
By the end of the inning Smyly was up to 78 pitches. In just that inning he'd yielded 5 runs on 6 hits, making the score 8-3. Three of the hits were probably playable with better fielders and a dab of luck.
There weren't a lot of smoked balls. There weren't even any errors. There was bad luck and poor execution for the Rays as good luck and great execution for the Royals.
But there's more!
For those optimistic souls who hoped the return of Brad Boxberger would set the bullpen right, tonight was disappointing indeed. After getting two relatively painless outs, he gave up an oppo single to the red hot Eric Hosmer, followed by a home run to the now also apparently red hot Kendrys Morales.
Then, after hitting Paulo Orlando with a pitch, as he's pitching to the next batter he grabbed his side and called for his catcher. I'm no doctor but I assume this is not good and we are unlikely to see him again for a while (left side muscle strain is the tentative diagnosis).
And for good measure, the Royals, who only got five innings from their starter, were able to use Chris Young, their bullpen's weakest link, to keep the Rays scoreless for three innings. They did, however, need to go to Wade Davis when the Rays threatened in the 9th.
I usually try to note positive takeaways, even after losses. But it's hard to find any today. Brad Miller hit well. Longoria hit well. In fact the Rays had 13 hits and 5 walks, which ought to be plenty of offense.
Here's a positive: Sturdivant, Eveland and Garton managed to pitch scoreless innings. There were no fielding errors committed although it was one of the least impressive defensive games I've seen from this team. Oh, sorry,I was supposed to stay positive.
Mikie Mahtook has not looked good in his call up, and was 0-4 coming into the 9th. His facing Wade Davis, the most effective reliever in the league, is hardly an equal match up. But does he deserve an additional handicap? Here was his "strike one":
OK, we'll put this one to bed and hope for better results tomorrow.
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