A Royal Pain

Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures

Who ever suspected the Kansas City Royals to put up a fight against the Toronto Blue Jays? Given, there were many opportunities for the Blue Jays to put the Royals away, but they simply just could not capitalize.

Considering how badly Brandon Morrow’s last outing went, I’d say that was a very successful bounce-back performance. Six innings of two-hit ball was more than enough to keep the bluebirds close going into the latter stages of the game.

When I look at what happened with the bullpen though, it’s almost a carbon copy of what happened last Tuesday against the Yankees. Marc Rzepczynski gives up the tying run(s) and Frank Francisco allows the game-winning run to cross the plate.


Last week I was ready to defend Marc Rzepczyski and Frank Francisco, but I think it’s safe to lay some blame on these guys for the loss last night. Zep came in to face three batters and only threw one strike! Three straight walks is just inexcusable.

Frank Francisco on the other hand, had no problem finding the strike zone, he was just nickel and dimed to death with three singles. In his past seven appearances, Francisco has allowed 16 baserunners and opponents are hitting .483 off him during that stretch (thanks to John Lott for the legwork on that one).

If it seems like Frankie always has somebody on base whenever he’s on the mound, it’s because he does. Sometimes those last three outs can be the toughest to get, but Francisco just cannot nail down those outs without either making it a nervous ninth or giving up the game-winner.

At this point, I’m not really sure what the solution is … but like Mike Wilner suggested, hopefully things will eventually just even themselves out with Frank Francisco.

On the offensive side, both teams were equally lackluster as the Blue Jays were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and the Royals were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. That one hit for the Royals ended up being the difference maker.

I wouldn’t call this an especially deflating loss because this game never really felt like it was within the Blue Jays grasp anyway. Midway through, it was evident this one was going to be decided by a looping single anyway. And this time, it just so happened not to be off the bat of the Blue Jays.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

12 thoughts on “A Royal Pain

  • June 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Rzepczynski has come a long way since being considered for the 5th starter's spot. It's the wrong way, though. He's not even getting the situational lefty job done. Tough way to give up a seventh inning game tieing run, no?

  • June 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Chris, up until the past week or so, Zep has really carved out a niche as a late-inning/setup man. But yeah, if he can't even get the lefties out, then his effectiveness goes down. And to watch that lead slip away to a bases loaded walk was just brutal. I'd rather see a hit than a walk, and Zep couldn't even find the strike zone.

  • June 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Hi Ian – since his demotion to the pen (and it was a demotion) at best I would have called him a poor man's Scott Downs. At best. Now he's a rich man's Jason Frasor – and that's no compliment.

  • June 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    (I recognize that the above is over the top)

  • June 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I am wondering if Zep is dealing with some type of lingering injury, because he just seemed off all three baters, I actually blame him and Farrell for this loss. The reason for this, after the second walk (8 balls on 9 pitches) he should of pulled him, and Zep should have admitted that he did not have his stuff today to keep going. Regarding the Royals, since the 94, as a jays fan I have noticed that even when the Royals have been a noticibly bad the jays have struggled against them. In fact according to baseball almanac http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/teamvsteam-al.shtml the jays are 163 wins over 161 losses against royals. Pretty bad when you consider that Royals have had losing records in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

  • June 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Chris, for a few weeks there I'd say the void of losing a solid reliever like Scott Downs was filled very well by R-Zep. Even after a couple of poor outings, I'd still put him up near the top of the bullpen depth chart though. If he can just get out those damn lefties, hopefully all will be okay.

    Psmith, I thought that as well but didn't want to say an injury was the scapegoat for his poor outing last night. That would certainly explain why he couldn't find the strike zone.

    On one hand, I'm a little surprised the Blue Jays haven't fared better against the Royals, but on the other hand I'm not. One should never underestimate a team that has a losing record. I think on multiple occasions, maybe the Blue Jays have been guilty of doing that.

  • June 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    The Jays play to the their competition. They play the good teams tough and then provide some stinkfests against the pushovers. Drives me nuts. If they want to compete in the East, they need to win games like last night's.

  • June 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Chris, I hear ya. Or how about when they let a relatively unsuccessful pitcher like Felipe Paulino look like a Cy Young candidate? That's pretty frustrating as well.

  • June 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I am also wondering though if KC has consistently played a type of game or style that the jays still have trouble beating. KC has for years played small ball, and I find in a slugfest the jays are as good as anyone. They are beginning to come around to small ball style of play with Farrell. However, I do not think, the jays, defence, and pitching best caters to a small ball team. I.E. if you watched pitches thrown between Morrow, and the opposing pitcher you see that KC pitcher had thrown about half the pitches in the same amount of time by third inning Morrow had thrown about 48 pitches to KC's 27. I think the one thing that hass often killed the jays against a pitcher who is also pitching well is to try and hit him on the first and second pitch, some times you need to be like KC and draw a pitcher into a long count.

  • June 7, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Psmith, those are some great observations. In regards to pitch counts last night, it looked like Paulino was more of a pitch-to-contact type pitcher, which definitely helps keep the pitch count down (he had 11 ground outs to 4 flyouts).

    Morrow is more of a strikeout pitcher, and thus is going to throw more pitches (he only had 4 ground outs, 6 fly outs).

  • June 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    thanks Ian. I think Morrow is a great pitcher, however I think he benefits the jays more pitching against a team like the yankees, who he can keep them off the board versus the royals who are a team that hits more for avg and speed, thus, the royals teach a patient philosophy which could have shown why zip could not get the royals to chase junk.

    On another note I am interested to hear your thoughts on the jays drafting this year. Seems to me they have drafted more HS pitchers than usual, and a bunch with college commitments. If these players do not sign it can benefit the jays next year have a crap load of picks. However, I am more curious by the fact that a bunch of there picksare 3-4 years a way. Thus, signaling that the jays believe they have a strong core of prospects and players on the team already signaling a call for restocking the farm in a couple years. This draft seems to be players geer-ed towards 2015-2016 to get the call. This signifies to me that the prospects in the minors they jays have confidence in with a run in 2012 or 2013, however this type of high risk high reward drafting can however set the jays up as deep playoff contenders for years to come.

  • June 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    PSmith, no doubt Morrow would probably fair better against teams who are more prone to striking out than putting the ball in play. I think a team like the Red Sox would probably also wear Morrow down, since they are so good at working the count.

    As far as the draft goes, I have to admit I don't really know all that much about the low level prospects or draftees for that matter. At this point, it's so difficult to judge if the Blue Jays drafted well or not because we might not see the fruits of their labour for another 4-5 years down the road.

    However, I don't think Alex Anthopoulos will spare any cash in trying to sign these guys. I think he'd much rather spend the money on signing bonuses for draft picks than signing free agents. Last year, it seemed like the Blue Jays and Deck McGuire might not come to an agreement, but they did at the 11th hour.

    So even if things go down to the wire, I believe the club will end up signing most of their draft picks.

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