One lousy game can change everything.
The Royals were looking good Wednesday afternoon. They got another strong performance from a starting pitcher. Alex Gordon finally got off the schnide, getting two hits including a home run. Billy Butler had gone deep for the second time this year. The bullpen was nails for six innings. And there they were, going into the bottom of the 12th with a one-run lead and a 4-2 season-opening road trip three outs away.
Ground out, tying run scores.
There will be a lot of excitement at Kaufman stadium Friday as the Royals open their home schedule. But that excitement will be tempered just a bit by Wednesday’s loss. For as much progress as the team has made, that sure felt like a “same old Royals” loss.
It pointed out another interesting argument about baseball, too. The stat-head community insists you should never waste money on a closer. Pick your best reliever, put him in that role, and if he becomes expensive, let him move on and try someone else. They are too volatile in the short term, too fragile in the long term, the argument goes. And for a team that isn’t contending, the need for an elite closer is minimal.
I tend to agree with that idea, yet these blown saves hurt. If they hurt this much for fans, how must they feel to the team? If this starts happening once a week or more, as it seemed to do often to the Royals in the 2000s, I’m not sure it doesn’t have a bigger effect on a team than just the L’s.
Which is what makes these arguments so fascinating. Logic makes me lean one direction. But real world events make me lean another.
Hopefully this won’t be a season-long theme.