by John Viril—
After pulling to .500 on Monday night, the Kansas City Royals promptly dropped two consecutive games in Cleveland. Through the 11-2 run that fueled their rise from 9 games under .500 in early June, Kansas City played smart baseball. The last two nights, they made multiple bonehead plays and dropped two consecutive games for the first time in more than two weeks.
It’s not a coincidence.
The buffoonery started with the Royals down 4-3 in Tuesday’s loss to the Cleveland Indians in the top of the 9th. With runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, 2B Chris Getz failed to get down a bunt on two consecutive pitches. Getz promptly struck out on a curve ball.
Getz’s failure to advance the runners proved critical on the next play. SS Alcides Escobar drove a curling line drive to right field. David Lough, who had been on second base, ran through a stop sign from 3rd base coach Eddie Rodriguez and headed for home. Lough suddenly put on the brakes more than half-way to the plate. Lough’s indecision allowed the Indians to catch him in a rundown, which ended with Mike Moustakas getting doubled off third base after he had advanced believing that Lough would attempt to score.
The painful fact is that Cleveland right fielder Drew Stubbs‘ throw came in wide of the plate. Had Lough kept going he would have tied the game. The gaffe cost the Royals a critical out. LF Alex Gordon failed to get a hit with runners at second and third, ending the game.
Of course, if Chris Getz had done his job, then there would have been no opportunity for Lough make a base running mistake.
The mistakes kept coming Wednesday night in another 6-3 loss to Cleveland. Mike Moustakas doubled in the 6th inning, followed by 2B Elliot Johnson‘s sharp single up the middle. Moustakas headed back to second before advancing, costing him a chance to score. Moustakas ended up getting stranded at third.
Now, Moustakas’ base running decision was a tad cautious, but very defensible. Cleveland shortstop Mike Aviles was playing close enough to 2nd base to possibly catch the low liner. While not truly a gaffe, Moustakas’ play was one of those 50/50 things that seem to go against a team when they lose.
Finally, Eric Hosmer made a clear base running blunder in the 9th to end the game. Hosmer was on 2nd base with one out when C Salvador Perez grounded out to third. Hosmer attempted to advance on the throw to first, but Cleveland first baseman Mark Reynolds nailed Hosmer at third for the final out. Hosmer’s play was stupid. Down by three runs, advancing to third base did not matter. Though the Royals were then unlikely to rally with only one out remaining, Hosmer’s thoughtless play threw away that chance.
With the Royals low-scoring offense, the team cannot afford such miscues. When a team plays as many close games as Kansas City, they will need to maintain consistently sound fundamentals to finish with a winning record.