(Eli Marrero, contemplating a trip the Star’s offices after the game)
A friend walked up a couple of hours before Monday’s game and asked, œHow do you beat a Kansas City Royals player in a fight?
His answer: Give him a bat.
The season is only 13 games old, but already there are impossibly lousy numbers to admire, like this one: The Royals have scored fewer runs in the last week (12) than the New York Yankees scored in the second inning on Monday (13).
Or how about this one: On this home stand so far, Royals opposing starting pitchers are 6-0 with a 1.95 ERA. In other words, the Royals have turned a collection of pitchers that includes Cliff Lee, Mike Maroth, Aaron Sele and Ryan Franklin into one big Bob Gibson.
Here’s another statistic: The Royals’ designated hitters are hitting .188.
That one is worth looking at again. The Royals would be better off having Mario Mendoza as their designated hitter. Seriously, at some point you have to ask: Why even have a designated hitter? Just go ahead and send the pitcher up there. Maybe the Royals could start an American League trend.
It’s bad. Really bad. Remember when you were in Little League, the coach would always put the best hitter in the cleanup spot? The Royals’ cleanup hitters this year have been: Emil Brown, Matt Stairs, Calvin Pickering and Eli Marrero. Not a single one of those guys was an everyday player last year. Two were in the minor leagues.
The cleanup quartet is hitting a cool .189 this year.
That is better than the designated hitters, however.
It’s bad. Really bad. Monday, Cleveland starter Cliff Lee had the flu. Apparently, he had it bad. And Lee had not pitched all that well the last year even when he was able to keep down his lunch. You might remember that Lee was something of a phenomenon early last year ” he was 9-1 at the All-Star game.
After the All-Star Game though, he had a 7.91 ERA. This year, he picked right up and an 8.10 ERA coming into this game.
So what happened? On Monday, he was Tom Glavine and Sandy Koufax mixed together. He gave up two hits in seven innings, both of those ground balls that got through. He did not allow a Royals runner past second base, and the three times that the Royals did get a runner to second base, he clamped down, forced weak pop-ups, struck out Angel Berroa and Mike Sweeney, dominated.
He utterly overmatched the Royals even though he probably needed an IV in the dugout. After he finished the seventh ” a nice, easy inning that finished with a strikeout of Emil Brown ” Lee went into the runway and threw up.
That’s when Cleveland manager Eric Wedge knew to take him out.
Against the Royals, you don’t keep a pitch count. You keep a vomit count.
The Royals are struggling against the Indians today at what looks to be an empty Kaufman Stadium, 3 hits and an RBI for Mike Sweeny and a couple of hits for recent call-up Joe McEwing. Cleveland’s Aaron Boone is 2 for 5 raising his average to a sparkling .146.
(UPDATE: A walk-off HR for KC’s Alberto Castillo down the left field line gives the Royals a 6-5 win, improving their record to 5-10. I can’t confirm that Mr. Posnanski was already hailing a cab by the time Castillo had rounded first.)