St. Louis Cardinals v Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals Power Hour


The Kansas City Royals did not hit a home run again on Tuesday — heck, they only managed two hits against the Cardinals, a hard double and soft single by Billy Butler — (update: they failed again on Wednesday) and so that means they have two home runs since May 15, both by 439-year-old Miguel Tejada. How bad is this power outage? Well, I’ve been keeping up with this a bit on my personal blog but just as a quick point of reference:

— No Royals regular has hit a home run in 14 straight games (though Miggy Tejada is looking more and more like a regular with the astounding struggles of Mike Moustakas, who is now hitting .178 on the season). The last Royals regular to hit a home run was Billy Butler on May 14.

— The Royals have not had a left-handed batter hit a home run since the aforementioned Mike Moustakas on May 10. To give you an idea how long ago that was, the hockey playoffs were still in the first round, the Heat was playing at Chicago having just lost to the Bulls, and the IRS story had  only just broken.

— The Chicago Cubs have outhomered the Royals since May 15 and, no, wait, that’s not it. Oh yeah, The Chicago Cubs PITCHING STAFF has outhomered the Royals since May 15.

— The St. Louis Cardinals hit three homers more home runs against the Royals Tuesday night, which is more than the Royals have hit since May 15.

Actually, this is a point worth expanding upon: The wind was blowing out at Kauffman Stadium Tuesday for the Royals-Cardinals game. The Cardinals sent rookie lefty Tyler Lyons to the mound. Lyons is a promising prospect but he’s still a rookie, and he’s a lefty, and the wind was blowing out. The Royals still didn’t even come close to homering. They never really do.

And this gets to the heart of something else. The Royals have not exactly been facing the 1965 Dodgers pitching staff during this absurd power outage. A look at the starting pitchers the Royals have faced during this streak makes the thing even more impossible:

5/29: Lance Lynn

5/28: Tyler Lyons (rookie making his second big-league start)

5/27: Adam Wainwright

5/26: Jerome Williams

5/25: Billy Buckner (former Royal, making his first big league start in three years)

5/24: Jason Vargas (30-year-old who was second in homers allowed last year, giving up 35)

5/23: Joe Blanton (who came into game 0-7, 6.62 ERA, with league slugging .562 against him)

5/22: Jordan Lyles (22-year-old who came into game with 6.63 ERA with league slugging .524 against him)

5/21: Bud Norris

5/20: Dallas Keuchel (who came in having given up 19 homers in 113 career innings)

5/19: A.J. Griffin (who had allowed eight homers in 51 innings, he gave up three more in his next start)

5/18: Tommy Malone (31 homers in his previous 241 innings)

5/17: Jarrod Parker (nine homers in 40 innings coming — also a 6.64 ERA)

5/15: Barry Enright (second start in more than two years)

You know who is not on that list? Justin Verlander. And CC Sabathia. And Felix Hernandez. And really any of the, say, 40 best pitchers in the American League. Other than Wainwright, you would have thought the Royals would hit home runs BY ACCDIDENT.

By the way, the Royals loss was their 18th in 22 games, and their 10th straight home defeat, tying a club record. The other day, I predicted that the Royals and their connections would spend a lot of time talking about the little things — which they seem to be doing — but I did not make the equally obvious prediction that soon Royals manager Ned Yost would make a bizarre and hilarious statement that would show him beginning to lose his mind. Hey, it happens to all of them. The Royals drove Tony Muser to his make his locally famous quote about how the Royals needed to pray less and drink more tequila. The Royals drove Tony Pena to guarantee a pennant and jump in the shower with his clothes on. The Royals drove Trey Hillman to all sorts of craziness. You can’t blame them — they’re only human.

And so is Ned Yost, only human:

“What are you asking me to do?” he told reporters after Tuesday’s game. “Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them? What do you want?”

Yep, Ned Yost is out of ideas. Every Royals manager gets there sooner or later.

Playoff Reset: The AL Wild Card Game

Wild Card

Each day throughout the playoffs we’re going to be doing what we’ll call a reset. Not always a preview, not always a recap, but a generalized summary of where we stand at the moment and what we have to look forward tonight.

Today, of course, is Day One of the playoffs so we can really only look ahead, so let’s look ahead to what’s on tap in tonight’s one and only game.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees, American League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:08 PM Eastern. Or thereabouts.
The Place: Yankee Stadium, New York
The Channel: ESPN
The Starters: Dallas Keuchel vs. Masahiro Tanaka

The Upshot:

  • Dallas Keuchel is the Astros’ ace and may very well win the Cy Young Award, but he’s (a) pitching on three-days’ rest; and (b) not in Minute Maid Park, where he is clearly superior compared to how he does on the road. At the same time, (a) the Yankees haven’t figured him out this year, going scoreless against him in 16 innings and striking out 21 times, including a poor performance against him in the Bronx a month or so ago; and (b) lefty sinkerballer types are basically the platonic ideal of a pitcher you want to throw against the Yankees to drive them crazy. While, historically, pitchers going on short rest in the playoffs fare poorly — in the past 20 years they are 18-37 — sinkerballers and extreme groundball pitchers fare much better than most. It ain’t a perfect setup for him, but you gotta like Keuchel here.
  • Meanwhile, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has made one career start vs. the Astros: this year, back on June 27. He got beat up, allowing six runs in five innings, receiving no decision. Those disclaimers about past performance not being indicative of future results you see in financial services commercials should apply to this and all other past matchup stats you see in the postseason, however. One random start here or there — or two in Keuchel’s case — doesn’t tell us a ton. This is baseball and tomorrow is always another day. At least if you don’t lose the Wild Card Game. More of a concern for Tanaka: rust. He has pitched only once since tweaking his hamstring against the Mets on September 18 and it wasn’t a good outing. At least he’s rested?
  • Both teams are dependent on the longball but both teams have struggled at times on offense down the stretch, with the Yankees’ bats being particular quiet in the season’s last month or so. Someone needs to wake up A-Rod. And Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Brian McCann for that matter too. Of course, all of that firepower may not matter. The playoffs often see offenses go quiet and pitching come to the fore. Both teams have decent bullpens — the Yankees’ far, far more than decent — and given Tanaka’s rust and Keuchel’s short rest, this one is very likely to come down to multiple innings of hard-throwing relief. That favors the Yankees if they can keep it close.
  • Both teams are basically stumbling into the postseason, with the Yankees having lost six of their last seven games. They’re also under .500 since the end of July. The Astros swooned themselves in the second half, going 11-16 in September before rebounding in the season’s last week. Good thing momentum generally isn’t a thing in the playoffs — remember those 2000 Yankees losing 15 of 18 before the playoffs started and then won the World Series! — because neither team here has much of it.

This is the Astros’ first playoff game in a decade. While the Yankees haven’t been in the postseason since 2012, there is a lot of playoff experience here, making this an interesting study in contrasts from a storyline perspective. At least if you’re into storylines. Personally I’m not. I’m more into baseball games and in this baseball game I think Keuchel is a tough draw for the Yankees, even on short rest. For New York to advance they’re gonna have to be a team they haven’t been for weeks and maybe months: one that lays off junk down low and hits the ball hard.

Mike Scioscia will return as Angels manager in 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21:  Manager Mike Scioscia #14 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the dugout during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

It was assumed already, but Mike Scioscia made it official during Monday’s press conference for new general manager Billy Eppler that he will return as Angels manager in 2016.

Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the majors, has been at the helm with the Angels since 2000. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out after the 2015 season, but he has decided to stay put. He still has three years and $15 million on his contract, which runs through 2018.

Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels general manager in July amid tension with Scioscia, so there were naturally questions today about what to expect with first-time GM Eppler in the fold. According to David Adler of, Scioscia isn’t concerned.

“I think we’re going to mesh very well,” Scioscia said. “If we adjust, or maybe he adjusts to some of the things, there’s going to be collaboration that’s going to make us better.”

Eppler is the fourth general manager during Scioscia’s tenure with the team.

After winning the AL West last season, the Angels finished 85-77 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The team hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009.