Royals’ secret to success? Just score four runs, baby
Perhaps the most amazing statistic from last year’s Royals team was the one detailing their record when they scored at least four runs.
All the Royals had to do was get to four runs last year and they were an astonishing 64-13, which tells you just how good their defense and pitching were.
Think of that some more: 64-13 when scoring just four runs. And consider the league average was 4.2 runs.
This is, of course, why general manager Dayton Moore spent the offseason trying to find just the slightest bit of additional offense.
On paper, Moore did so. He filled two black holes in the lineup — one in right field and one at second base — when he traded for Norichika Aoki and signed Omar Infante.
The consensus among Royals officials was that Aoki and Infante alone would be able to get the Royals to that magical fourth run on most nights.
As we know, that wasn’t the case on Opening Day in Detroit. Aoki and Infante went a combined 0 for 9.
One shouldn’t pin that loss on just the top of the order, though. Aside from Sal Perez’s 4-for-4 day, the rest of the Royals went 3 for 31.
And the truth is, even with Infante and Aoki now in the lineup, the Royals will have to get more contributions from other sources, namely shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who at least contributed an RBI single Monday. But that trio — so awful offensively last season — went 1 for 11 on Monday.
Yes, the guess here is that the Royals’ success again this year will hinge on their ability to get to that magical fourth run.
That fourth run certainly would have changed the dynamics of Monday’s game.
If the Royals had pushed across that fourth run, there’s a good chance that closer Greg Holland would have entered the game in the bottom of the ninth with a 4-3 lead, instead of having to come in to clean up Wade Davis’ mess.
Starting with a clean inning, Holland more than likely would have sealed the victory, as he did almost every time out last season.
The Royals certainly had their chances to get an extra run.
They missed a great chance in the second when they had runners on first and second with one out. But the weak part of the order — Cain and Escobar — grounded out and popped out.
When the Royals did push across their three runs in the fourth, they had a chance to break the game open when Eric Hosmer came up with the bases loaded and two out. But Hoz seemed to be over-swinging and he popped out harmlessly to short.
Cain came up again with a runner in scoring position and two out in the eighth, but he rolled out to shortstop and the Royals remained stuck on three runs.
And if you know the math, the Royals last year were 22-63 when scoring three runs or less.
And 0-1 now this season.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.