Royals drop series, end dismal month with 5-17 record...
When RC first saw the lineup today, we briefly debated about whether or not the game would even be worth watching. With David DeJesus and Shane Costa on the DL, and Reggie Sanders and John Buck getting their customary Sundays off, Buddy Bell trotted out one of the worst lineups we've seen in quite some time:
RF - Robinson
2B - Graffanino
DH - Sweeney
1B - Mientkiewicz
LF - Brown
3B - Teahen
SS - Berroa
C - Bako
CF - German
Bell has repeatedly said that the season isn't a sprint, it's a marathon, so we won't quarrel too much with his decision to rest Sanders. It seems a little odd that he's getting so many days off this early in the season, particularly with so many off days in April (not to mention last night's rainout), but obviously the thinking is that resting him now will result in him being fresher throughout the season. It's frustrating to watch, but if Sanders ultimately does stay healthy enough play in around 130 games this season, we suppose it will be worth it.
Mark Grudzielanek was unavailable today with a sore achilles.
Of course, it doesn't help that Bell also decided to rest the Royals' most consistent performer thus far, Mark Grudzielanek. We learned after the game that Grudzielanek was out today with a sore achilles, so he wasn't available. That being the case, RC wonders if this was really the best day to sit Sanders. With Grudz expected to return to action as early as tomorrow, would it not have been better to give Sanders his day off tomorrow? Perhaps the Royals would prefer to have their lineup at full strength as often as possible, but the result today was a starting nine that really made it look like the Royals were throwing in the towel. With the influx of injuries, RC supposes there's really no great solution, and in all fairness, the weak-looking lineup today was of little consequence in an ugly 13-6 loss.
Oh yes, it was ugly. Scott Elarton had his first truly bad start of the season, lasting only 2.1 innings while surrendering five runs on four hits and three walks. The Royals found themselves down 5-1 entering the bottom of the second inning, and after Elarton failed to get out of the third, Joel Peralta was summoned from the bullpen. Peralta was the staff's lone bright spot, as he retired all seven hitters he faced in 2.2 innings.
The Royals actually represented themselves quite well vs. struggling A's starter Joe Blanton, scoring five runs against him in five innings. Mark Teahen stroked a three-run homer just to the left of center, and the game was tied entering the sixth.
But then it was Luke Hudson's turn to pitch. After a walk, two singles, and a hit batter, the Royals again trailed, and Hudson was removed without retiring a single batter. In came Andrew Sisco, who struck out Mark Ellis and then surrendered a two-run double to Mark Kotsay off the top of the right field wall. The Royals trailed by three, but the stage was set for all hell to break loose.
Nick Swisher lofted a fly ball to deep left center, but Esteban German had it tracked down. At the last second, German lost the ball in the sun and it bounced off his face into left field. Both runners scored, and Swisher was standing a third base with a stupid look on his face, pointing to the sky as though God had helped him do something special. Swisher scored on an Eric Chavez single, and the game was over.
German is not a good outfielder, and we understand that he's been pressed into outfield duty by injuries. But we did find it odd that he was manning center field today, while Kerry Robinson was playing right. Bell before the game said German was in center because he's more comfortable tracking fly balls there than on a corner, so we guess we can live with that. But it should come as no suprise to anyone when he screws up plays out there, even if he wasn't wearing sunglasses. He could just as easily screwed up a fly ball in right or left field, so the fact that German was in center today when that ball was hit was little more than dumb luck. But if he's to continue playing outfield, we should probably all brace ourselves for more embarrassing bloopers.
The Royals are now riding a three-game losing streak, and tomorrow in Detroit they open a seven-game road trip through the AL Central. They start with two games against the Tigers, then they travel to Minnesota for two games before wrapping up the trip with a weekend series in Chicago. Runelvys Hernandez will look to repeat his stunning season debut, opposing Jeremy Bonderman, who's struggling this season but has given the Royals fits. Let's all pray that this road trip goes a little better than the last one.