We've known all year that the fellas wouldn't keep up the opportunistic scoring in bunches with men on base indefinitely, or even without interruption. Unfortunately, over the past 10 (5-5 record), they have averaged 3.2 runs per game, or just under 1.5 runs less than they averaged through the first 47 games.
Last night, the Twins scattered 8 hits over 9 innings, the lone run coming off a Rosario homerun in the 7th. Their best opportunity to score came with the bases loaded and one out in the 3rd after a couple of infield singles and a Hicks double. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in baseball, the next batter - Hunter - hit into a double play and the inning was over.
In the 5th, Escobar made it as far as second before Dozier flew out and again in the 7th, Escobar was on second with two outs and Dozier struck out to end the home half.
This year, Dozier is hitting .091/.375/.091 with 2 out and RISP (not good) but Hunter is a much more robust .381/.480/1.048 in that spot and is slashing .500/.500/.750 with 1 out and the bases full.
Plouffe was 0-4 last night and is hitting .150/.171/.250 in his last 10 games.
Of the regulars,* only Dozier, Hunter & Plouffe have an OPS+ over 100 and only Dozier (.268 BA) has an OPS over .800. The team leader in RBI is Hunter with 36, with only 3 GDP in more than 200 AB's. As I noted, sometimes the GDP happens in baseball, but you'd like to think that one in the 3rd inning won't end your last, best chance to score.
On the mound, Hughes took his 6th loss of the year, despite pitching 7.2 innings and allowing only 3 earned runs on 7 hits. The last run charged to Phil resulted from Thompson giving up a single to Hosmer and allowing an inherited runner to score. The first runs charged to Hughes came courtesy of a Kendrys Morales bomb in the 2nd. Hughes allowed a lead off single to Hosmer after getting ahead 0-2, and then fell behind 3-1 to Kendrys before grooving a fastball which was promptly deposited in the upper deck in right center. He settled in nicely after that, allowing only 5 hits in the next 21 at-bats.
All in all, it wasn't a bad outing from Hughes, he just didn't get any help from the offense.
End result, the Royals have moved in front of the Twins for 1st place in the Central by mere percentage points. They'll have 2 more games to take the top spot back. They still have the second most wins in the AL, behind only Houston.
*Minimum 45 games played and 150 at bats.
Bear Image Copyright: Gerald D. Tang