As I watch the entirety of the Royals team fail to support their ace for just the latest in what has been a career of having been let down for Zack Greinke, one thought keeps returning to me. I actively loathe half of this team. From The Yunicorn to Guillen to nearly all of the bullpen, this Royals team plays baseball in a manner that is not befitting a Major League baseball team.
Chronicling the ways in which the team undermined last year's American League Cy Young Award Winner this afternoon could take a while. I am electing to do this in spite of the fact that team may very well have won this afternoon. Having worked until what I would imagine to have been at least the sixth inning, I recorded the game and returned home to queue it up. I got part way through the third before going back to the beginning--my frustration mounting with each passing moment of ineptitude.
After being given a free out after Erick Aybar foolishly tried to stretch a lead-off double into a triple, Chris Getz committed a two-out error on a grounder that took a tough bounce off the lip of the grass. Zack then followed with six-pitch walk to Torii Hunter, a four-pitch walk to Hideki Matsui in which three of the balls were strikes according to FoxTrax, and finally a five-pitch fielder's choice (Callaspo to Getz) to Mike Napoli. These fifteen pitches (borderline strikes be damned) basically ate an inning of work.
I have no idea how this game will turn out (well, I'm assuming that the rest of the Royals will find a way to totally fuck Zack Greinke in the ass, but that is just based on the fact that I know these Royals), but I'd imagine that the Royals could have another inning's worth of pitches out of Zack Greinke.
In the bottom of the first, Scott Podsednik leads off a four-pitch (all strikes) strikeout with the fouled off third pitch leading to an altercation between Mike Scioscia and home plate ump, Mike Estabrook. Kendall works a full count before feebly flying out to right. After DeJesus gets a base hit that could just as easily have been ruled an error on outfielder-turned-first-baseman-by-necessity Michael Ryan, Billy Butler waves over a slider low in the zone (at best) in a full count. It was seemed like it was close enough that Butler probably had to take a hack at it to avoid being a strikeout victim looking, but I think we would all love to see the Royals best hitter do something with a runner on base here.
With Zack back on the mound to start off the second, Michael Ryan rips the first pitch he sees off the wall in deep right-center. Mitch Maier plays the ball off the wall, turns to hurl it in to second (or possibly third, but the ball comes within a few feet of second), skipping Getz who should be* the cut-off man, only Yuniesky Betancourt is somehow not covering second at all, so Ryan is standing up at second as the ball skips toward third base. Ryan was going to be safe regardless, but if memory serves me correctly from little league baseball the second baseman is the cut-off for a fly-ball to right, and short should be covering second.
*Well, really, Aviles should be the cut-off man because Aviles should be playing, not Getz, but whatever.
As Getz was the cut-off for the gunning down of Aybar at third in the first with Batter Nine, You Sucky ducking out of the way of the throw to third standing right next to second base, I think memory does serve me correctly. Betancourt seems to be backing up the cut-off rather than covering second. Is that not playing out of position? To add to the fundamentals failure, Billy Butler isn't backing up the throw to second, which Frank White called him out on. At the very least, Butler is slow to back up the throw to second. Very possibly (I would even say likely as the example from the first inning backs this up) we have two Royals not where they are supposed to be on one play. It didn't lead to a run that wasn't going to score anyway, but there is a lack of sound fundamentals on display here.
After Frandsen drives in Ryan and Willits hits into a dubious bunt fielder's choice in which Estabrook allows Kendall to throw out the lead runner at second on a bunt that never actually ends up in fair territory (it rolled horizontally from the dirt across the plate never touching any part of the dirt in front of the plate), Zack strikes Aybar out looking on a back-door slider and Kendall guns Willits down attempting to take second on the full count with a good jump.
To the top of the second... Jose Guillen, who is slumping so horribly that he should not be in the lineup regardless of his career numbers against Jered Weaver, strikes out on a ball high enough that it goes to the backstop. Of course, the play isn't even close at first, as Guillen hadn't even mounted his Rascal idling half way up the first base line. The struggling Alberto Callaspo grounds out to first, and Mitch Maier looks at one, takes a big cut at another, watches a ball high, watches another outside, and finally strikes on a pitch thrown in what appears to be the same place as the ball he watched for ball two.
The third sees Mitch Maier make a nice sliding snare of a Howie Kendrick liner to center only to have Big Head Bobby Abreu beat out a Betancourt throw from the grass right up the middle. In Hunter's at-bat, Yost gets tossed after Estabrook called time to show up Jason Kendall after Kendall calmly asked where a pitch was. Clearly this is not Estabrook's finest hour, as he looks like a crazy Napoleon. Yost seems completely correct in ripping Estabrook a new asshole. Kendall didn't even turn his head from the crouch to ask, and Estabrook walked around in front of Kendall to dress him down. Amateur hour, Estabrook. Amateur hour.
Hunter ends up striking out. Matsui destroys Tokyo, defeats Mothra, and guides a grounder past the diving glove of The Range-Deficient Yunicorn. Then Callaspo has a liner ripped directly into his glove, and Greinke escapes the top of the third inning unscathed, down 1 - 0.
To start the bottom of the third, Yuni swings at the first pitch, pops it foul into the sun, and has Aybar gift him with a blown catch because he wasn't wearing his shades. Then, apparently intent upon driving Mike Scioscia to have a coronary incident in this inning, Aybar airmails a throw to first on a routine grounder, pulling Ryan off the bag, and Betancourt finds himself standing on first. Since everyone knows that nobody Getz out alive, Yuni gets picked off at first with no outs and the inimitable Chris Getz chomping at the bit, just waiting to drive in what could have been his first RBI on what could have been his first extra-base hit of the season.
All right, I know... Getz has to have an RBI this season right? (The total is seven, by the way.) But does he have and extra-base hit? Survey says: Yes. One double. In 80 plate appearances.
Oh, Getz strikes out.
Podsednik singles. If Betancourt wasn't drunk, he'd be standing on second.
Two outs. Runner on first. Kendall up. 11 RBI on the season. Will he make it 12? Well, obviously Kendall is not getting an extra-base hit here. If it were possible for a player's SLG to be lower than his AVG, Kendall would be the man that would challenge it. Kendall has played in so many games this year that he's starting to log games played for the Royals in 2009 because he has run out of games this season to play. If he were even remotely good, this would be awesome. Instead, John Buck and Miguel Olivo are killing the ball in their respective new homes, and Jason Kendall blows ass every day in Kansas City. At least he'll lead the Majors in games played this season with 240.
Oh, what did Kendall do? Well, after Podsednik takes second on Napoli's awful arm, Kendall works a full-count walk. David Of The Son of God steps to the dish with two gritty veterans on first and second, and grounds out to first.
Whew. Run scoring averted.
In the fourth, Zack makes Michael Ryan his bitch in a four-pitch strikeout with the payoff pitch being his slider. It registers at 88 MPH, and it was said that Zack hit 99 MPH in the first, so you can rest assured that the gun is hottt today. Two fastballs from Zack, and Frandsen has popped out to DeJesus in right. Quickly ahead 0 - 2 on Willits, Zack can't induce #77 to chase three straight balls out of the zone before a pitch is fouled off and the home broadcast misses the strikeout pitch to Willits.
Determination seems to have set in for Greinke here in the top of the fourth. Great inning. Unfortunately, the oddsmakers in Vegas would set the odds of the Royals scoring at least two runs today at about 350:1.
Bottom of the fourth sees Butler leading off with a ground out to third. I'm just going to go ahead and assume Guillen strikes out here. Glad he's in the lineup today. Eye-high, and he laid off. Shocking. Chased a slider in the dirt. Thrown out after the K. Embarrassing. You make me ashamed to be a Royals fan, JoGui. Bert Calypso comes up, passes it to the man, and boom goes the dynamite. In this case, the dynamite is a fly ball reeled in by Aybar in center field.
Sad showing. Two hits thus far. The end of this commercial is the result of your shite showing, Royals position players.
As Zack takes the mound to start the fifth, I can't help but wonder if the Royals should forgo the DH if their choice is Jose Guillen. Just let Zack hit. There's no fucking way he's going to be happy with the team that's constructed behind him. Let him hit and he might stay when his contract is up.
Tangent aside, I'm waiting for Betancourt to boot a double play ball and assume that it will happen this inning. The Aybar single through the first base side of the infield sets up the prediction. Kendrick lines to Of Jesus. Double play would get them out of the inning. Abreu, whose massive head rivals that of Kevin Mench, steps in, takes three balls, marvels at the fact that the size of his head hasn't crippled him with its ridiculous weight, finds himself in a full count, and fouls off what seems like 17 pitches before striking out as Aybar takes second.
Torii Hunter crushes cutter for a two-run shot into the fountain in left-center.
Three runs is obviously insurmountable for these awful Royals. To continue is an exercise in futility, but I am a glutton for punishment.
Hideki Matsui singles and eats a fishing vessel while humming some BOC on the way to first.
With the citizens running around frantically hoping to be saved from such an awful fate, Zack picks up his sixth K, owning Napoli.
In the bottom of the fifth, Maier strikes out on a 1 - 2 change-up before Betancourt finally gets the third hit for the Royals--a double into the left field corner. With a runner in scoring position and one out, Getz singles through the hole between first and second, but the RBI was not meant to be. If The Windmill were still employed, Getz would be at first with two outs. Some things have gotten better, I guess. Scott Podsednik's hot wife surely looks on wondering who that man is that is milling about in the box because he's not the same guy that hit those two postseason home runs in 2005 as he goes down swinging at a ball level with his chin. Kendall grounds to third, and they get the force at second. Base runners (plural!) wasted. Greinke's hopes for something other than a quality start ending in a loss are dashed.
Inning six. Will to live waning. Two pitches, Michael Ryan flies out to DDJ. Callaspo runs by a grounder up the third base line that is clearly not breaking foul, and Zack's got a runner on first and a ball that rolled about 80 feet from the plate is good for a hit. Frandsen stands at third after Willits dropped a double up the right field line. Free-swinging* Aybar steps in with hopes of driving in two more Angels' runs, works the count full, and draws a walk to load the bases.
*Weirdly, I looked at Aybar's FanGraphs page, and his O-Swing% is down to a much more respectable 30.4%. Yes, his career O-Swing% is still 35.0%, but he's showing a slightly more discerning eye now that he's leading off in Anaheim. It's probably just a product of small sample size, but maybe a tiger can change its stripes.
With a grounder to third, Callaspo steps on third, eliminating the force at home, throws home with time to spare, and the wizened veteran Jason Kendall elects to simply act as if the force is in effect stepping on the plate but not applying the tag. Run scores. Jason Kendall adds another bullet point to my reasons he's on my shit list. Zack Greinke gets another "earned" run.
A double steal is successful but ultimately in vain as Abreu lines out to right.
For those keeping track at home, Abreu's entirely extraneous at-bat here in the top of the sixth goes for five pitches. That is 20 pitches that Zack Greinke should have been able to use later in the game were his defense remotely fucking competent. If I knew the tag needed to be applied in that situation as it was happening, shouldn't the consummate veteran know that as well?
If three runs was insurmountable, it would take the Royals eight weeks of Zack Greinke starts to score four.
Back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers would tie the game. Weaver has an 8:1 K:BB. DeJesus won't be in on the four straight, as he flies out to the warning track in center. Butler flies out to Hunter just a step in from the warning track. Substantive contact for Guillen is a pipe dream. Predictable strikeout. Farnsworth is warming up as Greinke is set to sit down for good with 116 pitches, 20 of which should have been avoided. Four runs scored. The fourth shouldn't have at all. Kendall somehow doesn't get tagged with an error for the complete fuck-up at home. If ever there were an instance in which an error in its purest form is committed, it is this. Yet Zack gave up four "earned" runs.
Have I mentioned that I hate this fucking team. At second, Chris Getz. At short, Yuniesky Betancourt. Behind the plate, Jason Kendall. Your designated "hitter," Jose Guillen. In left, Scott Podsednik. All of them awful. Three of them with gaffes today. Guillen with three Ks while Zack was in.
Apparently, May 18th is the last time that the Royals scored a fucking run in support of Greinke. It is June 3rd today.
Ryan "Catch the" Lefebvre jumping in on the Godzilla stuff I was on about earlier (well, technically later, as I'm watching this on tape delay).
Fuck it. I'm not watching this anymore. Everyone's favorite reliever is on the mound. His fate is to ride his lawnmower to his dying brother's house in Wisconsin and then be nominated for an Oscar.
Furthermore, the Royals made a decent pitcher, Jered Weaver, look like a fucking world-beater. Put him on the same list as guys like Jeff Niemann (yes, I'm going back to last year for that one, but does it matter?), Ervin Santana, Jeff Francis, a struggling Jake Peavy, Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, Matt Garza, and Carl Pavano. Ridiculous. This team is so inept that it makes me want to go insane, just so that I can have some plausible justification for actually being a fan of this godawful team.
And yes, things are looking up in the minors. The question marks that were present heading into the season have been nearly entirely erased, but that doesn't make watching this team thwart any shot Greinke had at a respectable season any easier. I know Win/Loss records are horseshit, but last year's Cy Young Award Winner is staring at a 1 - 7 record now. He is the best and brightest thing the franchise has going for it, and their ineptitude could send him to a Mike Maroth-like season (W/L-wise) and very well drive him away.