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August 22, 2013

What You Need to Know

The Royals Run Out of Runs

by Daniel Rathman


The Wednesday Takeaway
There may not be a truer baseball adage than “you can’t win if you don’t score.” The Royals, who have dropped seven of nine and fallen to 6 ½ games back in the American League wild card race, are learning that lesson the hard way.

Ned Yost’s club was shut out on Tuesday night, its first zero-run output since the 1-0 defeat to the Marlins that started this rut on August 13. Yesterday, the Royals scraped across exactly two runs for the third time since that loss. They have also scored one run once and three runs twice. Only once, in a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Tigers on August 17, have they exceeded three tallies in a game.

The Royals went 6-for-32 at the plate on Wednesday without an extra-base hit. With runners in scoring position, they went 1-for-10, picking up a run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by Mike Moustakas and another in the sixth on an RBI single by David Lough, the one hit in those 10 at-bats. It wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the five-spot the White Sox posted off of Jeremy Guthrie in the top of the fourth.

Alex Gordon collected a team-high two hits on Wednesday and scored the sixth-inning run, but he also struck out twice and cannot be absolved of responsibility for the other defeats. The left fielder entered the middle match of the three-game set at Kauffman Stadium in a 5-for-35 skid, over which he had fanned 10 times without drawing a walk. A 2-for-4 night makes that a slightly more palatable 7-for-39, but the strikeout total is up to a dozen and the walk counter remains dormant.

Of course, as is often the case when a team struggles to post crooked numbers on the scoreboard, Gordon is not alone. Alcides Escobar—a black hole in the lineup for much of the first four months—enjoyed a 16-for-33 spurt buoyed by a .516 BABIP earlier in August, but since the 14th, he has gone 2-for-29. And the Royals’ leadoff men, a crew comprised of Jamey Carroll, Chris Getz, and David Lough in recent days, are a combined 1-for-24 in the last five games, dating back to their doubleheader sweep of the Tigers on the 16th.

Pitching carried the day for the Royals in that twin bill, as Danny Duffy worked six shutout innings in game one and James Shields one-upped him with seven in game two. Kansas City plated only five total runs, but those two starters and the bullpen held Detroit to one. The Royals scored five runs in one game the next day, but Wade Davis and company coughed up six, costing the visitors a series victory in the five-game set at Comerica Park.

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