Oh my, what a painful day for a Royals fan.
This doubleheader embodied everything wrong with this team and this organization. The final three hitters in the ninth inning of the second game would be in triple A in any other organization. The pitching was dreadful. The defense (three errors in the second game) was embarrassing.
Worse, and most disheartening, the ballplayers seemed to be mailing these two in. No fire. No extra effort. No joy. The way Bloomquist handled a ground ball in the top of the ninth just said it all. Must have been way past his bedtime.
Or else the way this team is mailing it in finally broke his baseball heart. Heck, even Billy Butler finally looks deflated and he's hitting the crap out of the ball.
The announcers revealed much more than they intended. Ryan Lafebvre started the first game with a corporate apology -- thinly disguised -- for the way Hillman has used his closer. It's not that the Royals aren't going to compete, he whined, but being so far down in the standings it would make no sense to overuse Soria. That doesn't mean the Royals aren't trying to win, he added quickly. But, Ryan, that DOES mean the Royals aren't trying to win. Who do you think you are kidding?
Frank White would not bend on this. From the first inning of the first game to the ninth inning of the second he contended Soria should be used when the game is on the line, even if it's the eighth inning. First, he said, Soria needs to pitch. More than rest, a pitcher like Soria needs consistent work. That's the best way to protect his arm. When Lafebvre brought back the same tired argument about being careful with the closer when the team is already so far behind in the standings as Soria FINALLY came into the second game -- the home team down eight runs -- Frank put it simply: A pitcher like Soria who throws strikes is good for five or six outs. Rather than following the "unwritten rules" for managers, White said, the criteria should be HOW THE GAME IS GOING. Read between the lines here. If the team has a chance to win and you don't have anybody else in the bullpen who can hold the lead, bring the closer in. GETTING A WIN CAN BE IMPORTANT, Frank said.
My goodness, isn't that obvious? Why else play the games?
Frank White wasn't buying this nonsense about saving a pitcher for next year, which is the only way to interpret the strategy Lafebvre was trying desperately to sell. The gold glove second baseman with a World Series ring on his finger comes from a different baseball tradition and a different Royals tradition, a tradition where the game is there to be won or lost, not part of a long range strategy to husband assets.
I agree with Frank White. He's the only person in the organization who knows anything about winning .... instead of whining.