St. Louis Cardinals v Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals Power Hour

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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.

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.