One mental misfire and a dozen unused baserunners burn Royals in Tampa
JUL 08, 2014 11:12p ET
This one stings.
The Royals put 15 runners on base and scored just three, and shortstop Alcides Escobar made a huge mental error in a frustrating 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Escobar tried to turn a double play by himself in the eighth inning instead of tossing the ball to second baseman Omar Infante for an easy force -- both runners were safe and that opened the door for two Tampa runs that ultimately cost the Royals the game.
Trailing 4-1 in the ninth, the Royals did rally for two runs, but with the tying run on first, Alex Gordon rolled out to first. With the tying run on second, Infante struck out, ending the game.
"That was a nice rally," manager Ned Yost said on the FOX Sports Kansas City postgame show. "But it's just unfortunate that (Tampa) got those two runs in the bottom of the eighth."
The Royals now stand 4-4 on the trip and fell 4 1/2 games behind Detroit.
-- LoCain can't do it alone. Lorenzo Cain tried his best, but he couldn't beat the Rays single-handedly. While his teammates floundered time and time again, LoCain reached base five times with a walk (a great eight-pitch at-bat in which he didn't give in), three singles and a triple. He also stole a base and scored two runs.
-- Vargas and Crow do their jobs. Starter Jason Vargas was sharp for five innings before running into some trouble in the sixth, though the deciding hit, a two-run single to right from Evan Longoria, actually was on a great pitch, down and low.
"Great job of hitting," Yost said. "He was just trying to go the other way and get one run home and he found a hole."
Aaron Crow did a great job to put out the fire by getting the third out in the sixth to keep the score at 2-1. Crow also set the Rays down in the seventh, hoping the Royals' offense might do something, which it finally did in the ninth.
-- Sal's up-and-down day. Sal Perez had a big two-run single in the ninth and an RBI groundout (a high chopper), but Perez also had one of the worst at-bats of the night. With runners on first and third and two out in the seventh and the Royals trailing 2-1, Perez was thrown five straight balls. Unfortunately, he swung at four of them, finally grounding back to the mound on the final pitch out of the zone.
-- Esky with a rare mental error. We all know Escobar is one of the top defensive shortstops in the game. But his misplay in the eighth helped turn a 2-1 game into a 4-1 game -- and proved the difference. With a runner on first and none out in the eighth, Longoria hit what at first appeared to be a double-play ball up the middle. But Esky had to stay back on the ball to field it cleanly, and then tried to beat the runner to second rather than tossing it to Infante for the easy force. Esky was late to the bag, then threw late to first -- everyone was safe. That opened the door for two tack-on runs for the Rays.
"I think Esky thought he was closer to the base and misjudged their speed," Yost said. "Infante was right there at the bag."
-- No one steps up offensively until the ninth. The Royals had 12 baserunners through eight innings -- 12! -- and scored just one run. The main reason was impatience at the plate; they popped out on pitchers' pitches 12 times through eight innings. While fans likely were thinking that at some point a Royals hitter simply would launch one over the fence, that moment never came.
-- Bueno not bueno. Left-hander Francisley Bueno didn't help Esky out, either. Instead of pitching out of the jam in the eighth, Bueno couldn't contain left-handed-hitting James Loney, who dropped in an RBI single. Bueno also then gave up a sacrifice fly that made it 4-1.