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F/12 Royals 7, Rays 6: Frustrations Mount as Rays Falter Again

Kansas City Royals v Tampa Bay Rays
The look of Rays’ Fans everywhere after dropping two in a row to the struggling Royals.
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

I don’t even know where to start this recap, to be honest. There are so many facets to Tuesday’s game that made it exciting and then overwhelmingly frustrating. It’s kind of like this Rays’ team as a whole: exciting and full of potential, and then frustrating and mediocre all in the same breath.

Will the Real Kevin Kiermaier Please Stand Up?

We’re gonna have a problem here.

The Outlaw, the back-to-back Gold Glove-winning centerfielder, has disappeared, leaving a shell of the defender we know and love in his wake. Kiermaier picked up his second error in as many nights and misplayed second ball in centerfield that didn’t go as an E8.

Pile that on top of a .206/.296/.270 and a demotion to the eighth spot in the lineup and we’re talking about a completely different player than the Kevin Kiermaier that signed a brand new contract this offseason.

I’m still not pounding the panic button with both hands yet; we’re still less than 10 days into May and Kiermaier dealt with a nasty illness of some sort earlier this year, which may have led to some change in his preparations or mechanics to some degree.

That’s not to say I’m not concerned. The “It’s Still Early” argument is going to be a moot point in about two weeks. The poor plate performance is one thing, but the repetitive defensive miscues are another problem entirely.

I hope the real Outlaw returns, the sooner the better.

Did You See That Balk?

Yeah, me neither. And I thought Bob Davidson retired . . .

Jorge Bonifacio singled on a liner to right field. The ball was deflected and misplayed by the aforementioned Kevin Kiermaier Imposter, leading to the aforementioned error, allowing Bonifacio to advance all the way to third base.

Then, on what looked like a completely innocuous, if not poorly executed pitch, Bonifacio was waved home by the officiating crew.

Apparently, during Matt Andriese’s delivery, after coming set, he made an illegal motion that prompted the balk. What exactly that illegal movement was, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve watched the replay of it about a dozen times and I can’t find it. The closest I’ve come to finding anything is a subtle double tap of his left leg as he comes to his set position, which is how he’s delivered all season long.

Needless to say, Kevin Cash didn’t see it either.

Cash hurried out to the field to demand some answers and was clearly not pleased with the information given, as he was quickly ejected.

But Cash sure did get his money’s worth.

The Bullpen & Extra Innings

The most frustrating part of this game, this team, and this season has to be the bullpen.

Andriese went 5.1 innings of decent pitching. He struggled early, found himself in a lot of deep counts, but nonetheless struck out seven batters in those brief innings, throwing only 84 pitches. But, after allowing a two-run home run to Salvador Perez, Cash gave him the hook in favor of Erasmo Ramirez.

Ramirez only lasted one inning, giving up three baserunners and two earned runs.

Not to be outdone, Danny Farquhar, only called upon for a third of an inning, gave up a hit and a walk, but at least kept any additional runs from scoring.

But it was Jumbo Diaz that let the Royals get back into the driver’s seat. Instead of being able to hold the Royals where they were, in two-thirds of an inning in which he again struggled with command, particularly of his slider, Diaz gave up two hits and allowed the tying run to score.

After needing Chase Whitley to finish out the eighth inning and Alex Colome to work the ninth, the Rays were left with two rookies available in the bullpen. Jose Alvarado came in to work the tenth and eleventh, pitching admirably and only surrendered a single baserunner.

The Rays failed to pick him up, though, after getting two men on in the bottom of the eleventh, both Brad Miller and Evan Longoria struck out to end the threat.

Welcome to the Big Leagues, Diego Moreno!

Moreno arrived in town just before game time, called up from Durham for the optioned and struggling Austin Pruitt.

The first batter he faced was Mike Moustakas, and Moose made sure Moreno remembered this wasn’t AAA anymore. Moreno hung a change-up and Moustakas made him pay for it, giving the Royals the lead and the win in the top of the twelfth inning.

In our first look at Moreno, he clearly has big-league stuff. His fastball consistently hit the upper 90s and his change-up plays nicely off of it. His control is going to need a lot of work, though, if he’s going to be a fix for this leaky ‘pen.

Final Thought

Like I said, I’m not panicking yet, but struggling this badly against the worst team in the AL is certainly a major red flag.