KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It may have seemed liked a day-night doubleheader for the Royals, given that Saturday’s game was interrupted by a four-hour rain delay.
But it’s a good thing it wasn’t — the Royals would have lost both.
With the Royals trailing 2-0 after four innings, the skies opened and play wasn’t resume until 6:30 p.m. After that, the Angels tacked on four more runs and cruised to an easy 6-2 win.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he was hoping they’d resume the game rather than postpone and then schedule a Sunday doubleheader.
"A doubleheader (Sunday) would have really messed up our pitching," Yost said.
As it turned out, the Royals came out pretty flat after the delay, though Yost disputed that the Royals lacked energy.
First baseman Eric Hosmer summed up the day: "It was just a weird day. And long."
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— Yordano was fine. Rookie Yordano Ventura seemed ready to navigate fairly well through the tough Angels lineup. Ventura gave up seven hits but just two runs before the heavy rains came. He walked none and struck out three. The only issue was his breaking ball, which was the pitch the Angels sought out and picked on for most of their seven hits. Ventura was able to overpower the Angels on his sinking fastball — touching 99 mph — but he then lost several hitters who pounced on his curve or changeup for hits. "I thought they were attacking my fastball," Ventura said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "That’s why you saw so many curveballs."
— The right move. The Royals took pity on all those fans who waited for hours during the lengthy rain delay Saturday: The team will allow fans to exchange a ticket stub from Saturday’s game for a #10 Hy-Vee infield ticket for Sunday’s finale with the Angels.
— Chen helps the cause. OK, so the box score will show a not-so-pretty line from Bruce Chen, who was pitching for the first time since April 24. Chen gave up four runs in the sixth, but mostly on bloopers and soft singles, and because of less-than-enthusiastic defensive play (which is rare for the Royals). Chen also sucked up five innings for Yost to save the bullpen. He wound up retiring the last nine hitters he faced. And overall he struck out eight hitters through five innings. "I thought he pitched prett well," Yost said. "For four of the five innings he was really good."
— Dribbler and dunker city. The Angels no doubt have a potent offense with some mashers throughout. But they looked like they were swinging with rolled up newspapers Saturday. Their first run came on a double just fair down the left-field line, a 30-foot infield single and a blooper by Albert Pujols. They got four in the decisive sixth on a seeing-eye single, a walk, a double steal, a two-run blooper to center by David Freese, a soft single to left by Kole Calhoun and another blooper by Pujols.
— No energy. The Royals came back after the four-hour delay about as lifeless as it gets. Shortstop Alcides Escobar didn’t exactly tear after a soft grounder up the middle that went for a hit, the Royals failed to cover either base during an Angels double steal and catcher Sal Perez dropped a perfect throw from Alex Gordon at home plate that would have nailed a runner. Asked if the rain delay zapped the Royals’ energy, Yost said, "No."
— Have some patience. Down 6-2 in the seventh, the Royals appeared to have something going when Justin Maxwell led off by working the count against right-hander Kevin Jepsen to 3-2, and then taking one off the wrist for a hit by pitch. Escobar, though, didn’t allow Jepsen to struggle any further — Esky hacked at the first pitch and flew out. Lorenzo Cain also went up hacking on the first pitch and eventually struck out. Eric Hosmer then hit a broken-bat grounder for the third out. Hard to fuel a rally when you’re down by four runs and you don’t take a pitch or two.