Welp. We’ve seen better postseason games, haven’t we?
The tendency of a Game One in any series is to analyze and over-analyze. It’s the first game, so surely what we saw has to carry over to the remainder, right?
Certainly there are conclusions we can draw: James Shields isn’t right. Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval can hit the ball. The Royals are hacking. Again.
If there’s anything to be dispirited over, it would be the bottom of the third inning. Omar Infante reaches via an error and Mike Moustakas doubles to set up second and third with no one out. Just put the ball in play. Just put the damn ball in play. Instead, we get Alcides Escobar swinging at pitches at his eyeballs and Nori Aoki hacking at curves in the dirt. Lorenzo Cain puts together a helluva plate appearance, falling behind 0-2 before working four straight balls for the free pass.
Bases loaded, two down. And Eric Hosmer swings at the first pitch he sees – a slider on the outer half he tries to pull, yet predictably rolls his wrists and softly grounds out to second. Inning over. Threat over. Ballgame over.
The Hosmer ground out was the first of 12 straight Royal batters retired by Bumgarner. Only the Sal Perez home run in the seventh broke that streak.
If you’re surprised at the offensive futility we witnessed on Tuesday, welcome to the bandwagon, I guess. You must be new. These are the 2014 Royals. They can’t swing the hot lumber all month. Yet I would caution you to count these guys out just yet. It’s a short series, so there’s a certain danger – and poor timing – but they will continue to rely on their starting pitching and defense to keep the games close. Three runs can be enough. Oftentimes for the Royals, it is.
Which is why Shields has been a colossal disappointment this October. He threw his change-up 11 times, got five swings and just one miss. Of the three change-ups put in play, all went for hits. His bread and butter pitch has turned stale. Why? Who knows. It could be the mileage on his arm. It could be mechanics. It could be the current moon phase. What we do know is he’s been underwhelming in all of his postseason starts. Underwhelming enough that if the Series makes it five, Ned Yost has to consider replacing him with someone like Danny Duffy, who once he found his groove, threw quite well for throwing only nine innings since the end of August. Of course we know that Yost won’t do that. He would never do that. Shields is his “ace” and his ace will take the ball.
I’m not fine with that. Not after what I’ve seen. While Yost said Shields would get the ball for his next scheduled start, things could change between now and Sunday. If it’s an elimination game, I’d really be worried.
The Royals still need four wins to pull this off. They suffered a setback, but it’s not fatal. There’s still time to recover. It now rests on the fireballing arm of Yordano Ventura.
Let’s throw fire.