The Royals have “dumped a steaming pile of crap on the curb”

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You know who I like a lot?  Rany Jazayerli. I’ve met him a couple of times and he’s a great dude. I’ve been reading his stuff forever, both at Baseball Prospectus and at his own outlets. Some of my favorite stuff of his, however, came back in the day when he and Rob Neyer used to do a back and forth called “Rob and Rany on the Royals” over at Rob’s personal website.

Rob, by then, had grown pretty cranky about his Royals. Rany, on the other hand, always seemed to look on the bright side.  He still does that better than most team-specific bloggers, even though he never ceases to be realistic. His criticism, while often sharp, is never spiteful or dismissive. He wants the Royals to be good and thinks they can be one day.

Which is why his latest missive is so … jarring:

Nearly six years after Dayton Moore was hired, in a year when the Royals were themselves so certain that they were going to take a step forward that they boldly unveiled the “OUR TIME” motto, the team has dumped a steaming pile of crap on the curb. Ten straight losses, and even worse, nine of them have come at home. The Royals have the worst record in baseball. Playoff dreams have been extinguished, and it’s still April.

And I’ll confess: I’m this close to losing it.

Royals: if you’ve lost Rany Jazayerli, you’ve lost everyone.  This is just … horrible.  And Rany explains why.  In total it makes for a pretty good case for the firing of Ned Yost. Or else it would if the front office doesn’t seem to be right on board with Yost’s strategies.

But maybe it’s not all bad. Sports Illustrated has them seventh in their Power Rankings. And no, I’m not making that up.

Sure, there’s a major caveat here: those rankings are based on WAR and what may happen in the future, not on what has gone on so far. That said, any ranking system that has the Kansas City Royals 7th at this point probably needs to think hard about what its mission in life truly is and whether it’s actually carrying it out.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.