The best performance against the Kansas City Royals‘ offense by any pitcher this season was spoiled late Thursday night, as KC won a 14-inning duel with the Cleveland Indians. The home team didn’t get a man on base until 19 Royals were already retired, but still they managed to win Game 1. Just like that, the Royals regained second place, climbed above .500 and continued their three-game winning streak, which I surely just ended by mentioning it out loud. Two singles, a stolen base and one of the strangest plays I’ve ever seen were all it took offensively for the Royals to claim victory, thanks in large part to seven innings of scoreless dominance from Danny Duffy.
Despite this being an extremely uplifting victory for KC, the offense proved yet again that they can’t solve the puzzle against legit starters. Corey Kluber‘s nine innings pitched and one unearned run allowed serve as a grim reminder of the Royals’ biggest flaw that looms over this exciting, extra-inning win — something like the opposite of a silver lining. Most expected good pitching in Game 1, but a perfect game for both pitchers into the fifth inning is a little more extreme than anyone sane could have predicted. In inching out a victory on Thursday, the Royals got to chalk up a win to pitching and defense — something they desperately need if they want to keep the hope alive.
Royals pitchers should have an advantage in at least the next two games of the series, and perhaps some mediocre Cleveland starters could help to provide the home crowd with some offensive fireworks. Josh Tomlin takes the mound on Friday, and his 4.43 ERA is the best the Royals will see from Indians starters for the rest of this series. Tomlin has allowed at least four runs in five of his last six starts after not allowing more than three during his first eight starts of the season. The Royals are batting .298 against Tomlin and combined for 17 extra-base hits against him in 121 at-bats.