Royals go down 0-1 in series despite promising moments

24 Jun

As an aspiring sportswriter and 20-year resident of Kansas City, I probably haven’t followed the Royals quite as religiously as I should this season. In fact, I remembered to turn on Friday night’s game against the Cubs because I wanted to see whether my boyfriend (a Royals lifer) or his friend (a Cubs fanatic) would have the early advantage in their $10 bet on which team would take 2 out of the 3 games this weekend.

Having said that, there were a few moments in the first game of the series that made my heart beat a little faster. In the top of the seventh inning, instead of getting an easy out by throwing to first, Jeff Francoeur hurled an all-out, stellar throw to home plate, forcing the base-runner at third to stay put. Then, a few minutes later, Blake Wood stood on the mound and stared down a Chicago batter. There were two outs, two strikes, and three runners on base. With a 99-mph fastball, Wood got him swinging.

In those moments, those guys made good decisions and good execution look easy. As one who has watched Royals baseball for many years, I’m well aware that those efficient plays are not gimmes by any stretch of the imagination.

In watching just a few innings of this game, I also learned another of baseball’s bizarre little rules: If a batter swings at a pitch for a third strike but the ball hits the ground, he can still try to run to first base. My dad informed me of this after Brayan Peña scurried a few inches to dugout-bound Alfonso Soriano – seemingly for no reason – after he stretched across the plate to take a hack at a ball far outside the strike zone.

At that point, the game was still tied 4-4. Once again, I and all the other Royals fans out there were in that zone: hoping against hope, knowing that it might end badly, like it so often does, but still optimistic.

Then it happened. Again. After only 3 errors in the last 14 games, the Royals made No. 4. It negated the opportunity for a double play, and a run scored. 5-4 Cubs. The next batter hit one through the gap, and it was 6-4 Cubs. The inning ended soon after, mercifully, and the hope returned – more cautiously this time, but still present.

Chris Getz got a leadoff walk, and a two outs later, Billy Butler smashed a double, putting Getz on third. Jarrod Dyson replaced Butler on second base, and Alex Gordon went to bat. He took one strike, one ball, and then grounded out. Just like that, game over. Two more batters stranded on base.

It’s rarely a complete shock when this happens because we have seen it before. It’s always disappointing, of course. But tomorrow is another game, and so is the next day, and so are the three days after those. With 162 regular season games, there are bound to be some exciting moments. You’ve just got to pay attention and savor those instances.

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