Royals need to regroup in a hurry

By Steve Sell
October 27, 2014

It may sound hollow after back-to-back losses where they were battered for 16 runs on 28 hits, but the Kansas City Royals accomplished their No. 1 goal over the weekend.

They were able to return home with games to play instead of coming back to put away their equipment for the season.

The Royals had managed only a 1-1 split at The K to start the series because they didn’t have an answer for Madison Bumgarner.

They didn’t have one for him in San Francisco, either.

Face it. The Royals could probably face Bumgarner 20 more times and not rip away the teflon he seems to be donning right now. He’s simply invincible and has made everyone forget that Clayton Kershaw even exists. 

Kansas City’s dugout looked downtrodden after Sunday’s 5-0 loss. But the Royals should be energized by the knowledge they could potentially face the two pitchers they have beaten so far in the series.

The Royals send Yordano Ventura to the mound Tuesday to face the hyper Jake Peavy, a pitcher they have had more than a modicum of success against. Kansas City needs to jump on him early and then hope Ventura isn’t too amped up himself. The big concern is that he’s going to try to throw 120 mph instead of his usual 100.

Also, the Royals need to get the bats going, especially the seemingly lost and dazed Alex Gordon. They were blanked in Game 5 after scoring four runs in Game 4, but all those came in one inning. They scored just three runs in their Game 3 victory, so for the most part the bats were silent over the weekend.

While the bats were disconcerting, the Royals’ super-hyped defense failed them. Alcides Escobar suffered from stage fright in Game 5 and Jarrod Dyson, for all his speed, made a gaffe that set up the Giants’ second run with an errant throw that missed a cutoff man. Kansas City simply hasn’t flashed the leather of its earlier postseason play when it put together a Gold Glove highlight reel.

If the Royals can win Game 6, then it’s Jeremy Guthrie and Tim Hudson in Game 7, a pair of old war horses who are in the twilight of their careers and hope to dip into the Fountain of Youth one more time.

If the Royals do lose this Series, they can point back to Game 4 where they had a 4-1 lead, but Jason Vargas couldn’t get through five innings and the Giants wound up scoring the final 10 runs. The game also marked the first professional hiccup for rookie sensation Brandon Finnegan, who you knew at some point couldn’t come through after such a nice string of sterling performances. 

The Giants are like a fly at a picnic. They just pester the heck out of you and are the polar opposite of the Royals at the plate. They work the count — how many times did a Giant extend an at-bat to three balls? — while the Royals hack away with no sense of direction. They faced 25 less pitches in the game Sunday even though they batted one more inning. Giants pitchers are taking advantage of that, as there are many instances where Royals hitters (Eric Hosmer especially) are getting themselves out.

The Series is far from over and there’s a reason a team wants the home-field advantage in a best-of-seven series. Let’s hope the Royals don’t squander this opportunity.