By any metric you want to imagine, the series with the Detroit Tigers is the most important series the Royals have played since 1985. The season won’t resolve itself over these three games, but make no mistake, the stakes are massive.
So this one hurt. Just a little bit.
Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t get out of the third inning. Eric Hosmer made two errors on one play. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about this one.
Guthrie turned in his worst start as a Royal, throwing 2.2 innings, allowing 10 hits and eight runs. (Only six of those runs were earned thanks to Hosmer.) His Game Score for the start was a 10, which is his lowest Game Score ever. Ever. In 245 major league starts, he’s never posted a worse Game Score. Go big or go home I guess. Guthrie has flirted with disaster for most of his tenure with the Royals anyway. And we know the Tigers have some big bats in their lineup. The third featured a pair of infield singles, three singles to the outfield and three doubles. Bam. Six runs. It’s like they ripped a page from the Royals playbook. String together some hits and run like hell. Except they didn’t really have a productive out. Oh, well.
The Hosmer error… Let’s just leave that alone. Although I will take the opportunity to continue to make the case the Royals strongest lineup going forward is Billy Butler at first and Josh Willingham at DH. I know Butler has cooled off since a torrid August. And I know Willingham has been hurt. Just my opinion. Although as long as Ned Yost insists on batting Omar Infante second, all this really doesn’t matter much. Unless Yost is trying to put his weakest lineup possible out there. Which is some mighty fine managerial performance art.
So the Royals score more than four runs in a game for the first time since August 28. And they lost.
Now the Royals task for the rest of the series got a little more difficult. On Tuesday, they face Max Scherzer. Wednesday, it’s Rick Porcello. The Royals will counter with Jason Vargas and James Shields, respectively. Hopefully, the two Royals starters can cool off the Detroit bats, but you can’t help but think this was their best chance to take a game and give themselves a little breathing room.
Vargas has been nothing short of brilliant since his appendix was removed around the All-Star Break. In seven starts, he has a 2.66 ERA, a 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio and has allowed just a single home run in 44 innings.
If Monday was the start of the biggest series of the year, Tuesday represents the biggest game of the year. So far.