James Shields struggled Saturday, but tried to take one for the team -- throwing 115 pitches before manager Ned Yost pulled him from the game in the sixth inning.
The Royals certainly weren’t expecting this kind of start to a nine-game stretch against the Twins and Astros.
Much like Friday night, the Royals’ game against the Twins on Saturday was over in a heartbeat. A six-run second, aided by two Royals errors, ended the suspense as the Twins romped again, this time 7-1.
Couple that with Friday’s 10-1 trouncing and you get a rarity: The Royals in the past year simply haven’t gotten drilled on back-to-back days very often.
In fact, you have to go all the way back to last April 28-29 for consecutive beatings this dramatic: The Royals got thumped by the Indians 10-3 and 9-0 back then.
— Taking one for the team. It was obvious that starter James Shields had no command — that and poor defense contributed to the Royals’ early 7-0 hole. But one thing you have to like about Shields is that he will suck it up and try his best to still give his manager some innings in order to save the bullpen. Shields threw a whopping 55 pitches in the second inning alone. Yet he did survive until two outs in the sixth, throwing a total of 115 pitches and shutting down the Twins until Danny Duffy came in to relieve.
— Big Sal and Gordo Nation. Royals fans know the team has hit just one home run all season — Alex Gordon’s blast at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday. But the bigger issue is that other than Sal Perez and Gordon, no Royals are consistently driving the ball. Perez has five doubles after lacing a one-hopper off the right-field wall in the second inning. And Gordon had two doubles Saturday, one that hopped off the left-center-field wall.
— Moose’s plate appearances. Call it baby steps, but third baseman Mike Moustakas looks far more comfortable at the plate now that he did just a few games ago. Moose had two hits Friday, including a double to deep center. He also drilled a shot Saturday but was thrown out by second baseman Brian Dozier, who was playing short right field. Moose also drew a walk Saturday.
— More bad defense. The Royals had several chances Friday night to make great plays and came up short each time, which contributed to that game getting out of hand. And again on Saturday, the Royals’ defense betrayed them. Shields had only himself to blame. In the bottom of the second, after the Twins opened with two singles, Shields fielded a poor sacrifice bunt attempt by Kurt Suzuki. Shields had an easy play at third for a forceout but fumbled the ball for an error. Moments later, Moustakas flubbed a potential inning-ending double play ball from Brian Dozier. That opened the flood gates.
— No patience. Both Rex Hudler and Ryan Lefebvre were a bit amazed by the Royals’ approach in their half of the fourth inning. Down 7-0 and needing base runners desperately, the Royals instead went in order after seeing only seven pitches — Omar Infante, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler were the culprits. It’s one thing to be in a hitting slump, and it’s another to make life easy for the opposing pitcher by hacking at everything.
— Not much fight. Look, we know the Royals aren’t exactly built to overcome large deficits. They have been offensively challenged for quite some time. But just like Friday night, the Royals’ offense seemed to quit after falling behind by a large margin. You’d certainly like to see the Royals fight a little harder to get back into the game. Hey, other teams do occasionally rally from big deficits, so we know it’s possible.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.