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.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after hitting an RBI single to score Ben Zobrist #18 (not pictured) during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.

Jake Arrieta flirts with no-hitter, pitches Cubs past Indians 5-1 in World Series Game 2

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gene Puskar - Pool/Getty Images)
Gene Puskar - Pool/Getty Images

Cubs starter Jake Arrieta pitched into the sixth inning before allowing his first hit. Behind his strong performance, the Cubs were able to take down the Indians 5-1 in Game 2 of the World Series to even things up at one game apiece.

Unlike their Game 1 performance against Corey Kluber, the Cubs’ offense was ready early. Kris Bryant singled with one out in the first inning against Indians starter Trevor Bauer and promptly scored when Anthony Rizzo drilled a double down the right field line. The Cubs would score again in the third with a two-out rally as Rizzo walked, then Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber hit consecutive singles to center field, plating one run to make it 2-0.

With Zach McAllister returning to the mound for the fifth after relieving Bauer in the fourth, he walked Rizzo, then gave up a triple to Zobrist. The Cubs continued to press their foot on the gas, with Schwarber hitting another RBI single. After Jason Kipnis committed a fielding error on a Willson Contreras grounder — what should’ve been the final out of the inning — McAllister walked Jorge Soler to load the bases, then walked Addison Russell to force in a run, pushing the Cubs’ lead to 5-0.

Arrieta had a first-inning scare, issuing back-to-back two-out walks, but he escaped the jam and seemed to be on cruise control until the sixth inning. He got Carlos Santana to fly out to lead off the sixth, continuing his no-hit bid, but Kipnis broke it up with a double to right field. After getting Francisco Lindor to ground out, pushing Kipnis to third base, Arrieta uncorked a wild pitch, helping the Indians score their first run of the game. Arrieta then served up a single to Mike Napoli, which proved to be the end of the line. Manager Joe Maddon came out to replace him with lefty Mike Montgomery. Montgomery ended the bottom of the sixth by inducing a weak ground out from Jose Ramirez.

Montgomery struck out the first two batters he faced in the seventh, then got into a bit of hot water by yielding a single to Brandon Guyer, then walking Game 1 hero Roberto Perez. Carlos Santana, however, struck out to end what would be the Indians’ last real chance to get back in the ballgame.

Montgomery remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out Kipnis, got Lindor to ground out, then gave up a line drive single to Napoli before Maddon pulled the plug. Closer Aroldis Chapman entered to face Ramirez. As expected, Chapman got Ramirez to whiff on a fastball to send the game to the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Chapman fanned Rajai Davis and got Coco Crisp to ground out for two quick outs. He walked Guyer on five pitches but ended the game as rain drizzled onto Progressive Field by getting Perez to ground out to shortstop.

The World Series is now headed back to Wrigley Field. The two clubs will enjoy a day off on Thursday to travel. Game Three will be played at 8:00 PM EDT on Friday. The Indians will send Josh Tomlin to the hill while the Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks.