Royals Can't Bat Gordon Nine Times, Lose 4-2 to Yankees
I tried to come up with a witty hook to intro this article, or find a cool stat to intro this recap with. This game was so dull that I forgot I was on recap duty until the thought of what Sarah would do to me jolted me awake two hours after the game ended. Here’s the best I can come up with:
I really, really wish we could just bat Alex Gordon nine times in the order.
The Yankees beat the Royals 4-2 on Friday night in the opener of a four game series at Kauffman Stadium. Jeremy Guthrie pitched well, but a bases clearing double in the third inning by New York catcher Brian McCann was ultimately what did him in. Despite giving up all four runs in the first three innings, Guthrie would settle down to retire the final 10 Yankees he faced, finishing with a final line of six hits and four runs over seven innings of work. He walked one and struck out two.
Guthrie, who led the Royals with 15 wins a season ago, dropped to 2-6 on the year. He has not won since April 9, a span of 11 consecutive starts.
The Yankees took a quick 1-0 lead when second baseman Brian Roberts drove in Mark Teixeira with a second-inning single. Kansas City responded in the bottom half of the same inning, as Alex Gordon doubled with one out. Salvador Perez would then single him home, evening the score at one apiece.
In the third inning, Guthrie gave up consecutive singles to Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Following a groundout that advanced the runners, he then hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch to load the bases. It was then when McCann drove all three in with a double down the left field line, making the score 4-1.
The Royals would score in the fifth inning when Alex Gordon led off with a single, and stole second base. Lorenzo Cain eventually doubled him home to close the deficit to 4-2, but the Royals were unable to score after that. Yankees relievers combined to retire 12 of the next 13 Royals until Billy Butler doubled with two outs in the ninth inning. Alex Gordon walked to put the tying runs on base, but the threat (and the game) ended when Salvador Perez grounded into a fielder’s choice to third.
There really isn’t much to say, especially considering Derek Jeter, the center of the current baseball universe, didn’t even play in the game. A large portion of the 23,418 in attendance were Yankees fans there to watch the Kansas City leg on The Captain’s farewell tour. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the whole season, the 13-time All Star shortstop will retire at season’s end, so Yankee fans from various cities are flocking to ballparks to watch the legend play in various stadiums for the last time.
You could talk about the Royals’ offense, which continues to look mostly lost at the plate, particularly Eric Hosmer. Hosmer is now just five for his last 33 at bats after going 0-for-4 with two more strikeouts on Friday night. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon continues to rack up production despite hitting fifth in the lineup; the three-time Gold Glove left fielder was the only Royal to log multiple hits. His average raised to .289, while his on base percentage climbed to .371. Both marks lead the team.
Fans continue to chime for a change in the batting order, blaming manager Ned Yost for “not recognizing the need for a change.” It’s exactly this that leaves me so irritated about fans who desperately want the manager fired. Ned Yost has always been known as a manager who shuffles the batting order on a daily basis. Fans in Kansas City have hated this about Yost for years, and have always chirped for him to “pick a lineup and stick with it.” That’s exactly what he’s done this year, yet fans are complaining about it.
If I were the manager of the Royals, I would not be batting Nori Aoki, Omar Infante and Eric Hosmer ahead of Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. Still, Royals fans have gotten exactly what they have asked for from Ned – a manager who “shows more fire” by getting ejected more frequently, and more consistency in the batting order. Ned Yost is the most improved Royal from a year ago – this should show Kansas City fans that while Ned Yost isn’t necessarily a great skipper, the manager has very little to do with the success of the baseball team.
As for the pitching, Guthrie was solid, but it wasn’t good enough. Francisely Bueno and Wilking Rodriguez worked uninteresting eighth and ninth innings. Yankees starter Chase Whitley, who had never won a major league game or recorded more than five innings, cruised through the Royals’ lineup for seven innings en route to earning the win. He scattered five hits, allowed the two runs and struck out three while walking none.
Here’s a troublesome stat – in the last eight games, the Royals as a team have 14 walks. Alex Gordon has nine of them. You’d think that the other players would look at the patience exhibited by Gordon and see the production that has come along with it, and attempt to perform more like that. We can only hope that with tomorrow’s game nationally televised and the team needing to get back on track, the Royals will all try to hit more like #4 (or #5, if you’re going by batting order position).