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Bad Baseball Extends the Losing Streak

Last night gave fans a little bit of everything to see. We were able to see the Major League debut of the first of four highly touted lefties. We got to see the Royals bullpen in full force between the fifth inning and the eighth inning. We had the opportunity to see Eric Hosmer hit a dramatic, game tying homer in the bottom of the ninth. And we had the opportunity to see lots and lots of walks. We also got to see the Royals walk twice in the ninth following Hosmer’s homer and subsequently see both runners picked off. Of all the ridiculous things the Royals have done to lose games over the years, I can safely say that I have never seen two consecutive pinch runners get picked off in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game. It’s absolutely maddening how poorly this team executed last night.

Before I get to Duffy, I want to make mention of Melky Cabrera who some fans seem to like because of his ability to hit with some power and the fact that he’s made some seemingly nice catches this season. I’m not going to strip you of your opinion, but last night was a perfect example of why he does not belong in the lineup every day and if he’s in the lineup, it should not be at the top of the order. He also does not belong in center field every day. Realistically, he’s a fourth outfielder, and he’s probably excellent in that role. I’m going to go out on a limb and call for a move that will not be popular with some people. I think it’s time to send Dyson down and let him play every day while Cain comes up to play center every day. Cabrera can slide into the fourth outfielder role that he seems to be made for and the Royals will be a better team for it. I’ve never been a huge fan of lineups, but this is what I’d like to see starting today:

1. Gordon
2. Betemit
3. Hosmer
4. Butler
5. Francouer
6. Cain
7. Treanor
8. Aviles
9. Escobar

If you’re beholden to the idea that you need to separate the righties a little better, I can understand that, and I’d recommend moving Aviles into the second spot, Betemit can hit sixth while dropping everybody else down one spot. It wasn’t just Cabrera’s 0-5 at the plate last night; it was how he arrived at that number. He had terrible at bats in key situations. And in center field, on the ball where the lead run scored in the top of the ninth, he did not play it well at all. I’m not saying that he should have been able to throw out a very fast Craig Gentry at the plate, but I’m saying that you can’t take three crow hops and still have a shot at it. At that point, eat it and don’t let Elvis Andrus get to second. Andrus didn’t score, so it didn’t ultimately end up mattering, but it’s just another in a long line of bad defense from Cabrera.

Now that I have that off my chest, let’s talk a little about Duffy. I liked what I saw out of him. I was sitting on the third base side, so it’s tough to tell for sure, but I got the impression that he was being squeezed pretty good by the home plate umpire. There were a couple two out, two strike pitches where most of the Royals team started moving toward the bench and then found out the pitch was a ball. It’s hard to say for sure, so anybody who watched on television is welcome to comment and let me know if I’m right or wrong about that. I loved seeing a mid-90s fastball from a lefty, and he looked like he knew what he was doing out there. It was a little weird to see him wearing Greinke’s old number, but I think it’s also a little fitting. He has to get his walks under control or else he’ll be back in Omaha, but I’m willing to chalk this one up to nerves for him.

The bullpen needs help in the worst way, which is where my second suggested move comes into play, and it’s one that I think will probably happen. Jeremy Jeffress needs to go to AAA and work on his command. You simply cannot walk the bases loaded in a tie game in the 11th inning. Robinson Tejeda appears ready to come off the disabled list, so it’s a ready made move that will make the Royals a better team in the short term and possibly the long term if Jeffress can figure some things out. Plus, they simply need a fresh arm in there with all the work they’ve had to do over the past week or so. I’m still very high on Jeffress, but he needs a little more refinement before he can be counted on in any big situations. Ned Yost probably deserves at least some of the blame because Jeffress has not had the regular work he’s been used to throughout his career. Still, it’s on him to get the outs.

Speaking of Yost, last night may have been his best managerial effort of the year. It’s tough to say that considering the team lost and they lost mostly because of bad execution, but his tactical decisions were outstanding last night. It started with the lineup, which was a breath of fresh air to see Gordon in the leadoff spot. It didn’t work, but it’s still the right idea. Then, he left Duffy in the perfect amount of time. I appreciate that he wanted to let him try to get through five, but he pulled him immediately following a walk. He just pushed all the right buttons last night. Unfortunately for him, the buttons didn’t respond very well. The only quibble I could have with the way he managed the pen last night is that I might have left Crow on in the ninth, but it’s hard to fault him for making a move that he’s made in that situation every single time this year. Plus, in spite of his struggles, it’s never a bad time to go to Joakim Soria.

Tonight, the Royals need a win badly. That might be the understatement of the year. They’re a season high two games below .500 and they’ve lost five in a row. Derek Holland, otherwise known as the doppelganger of Jeff Francis (seriously, look at both of their pictures side-by-side), goes for the Rangers. He’s a tough lefty, but he’s one the Royals can hit. He was outstanding in his first two starts but has been touched up a bit since then including a performance against the Royals where he gave up five earned runs. He did strike out nine in that game, but he’s hittable. The losing streak has to stop tonight or else I fear it might go on awhile. I’m not quite ready for the annual big losing streak, so here’s hoping for a win.

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