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Royals 3, Blue Jays 2: Bad baseball comes back to haunt the Jays again

The baseball gods continue to reward Alcides Escobar for bad play against the Jays

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start with the good news. Marco Estrada had what could be considered a solid bounce back outing today. He wasn’t vintage Estrada, but three runs over seven innings gives you a decent shot to win most games, and this was just the second time in the last 11 games that the Blue Jays held their opponent under five runs. So you certainly take that start from Marco and run.

Unfortunately, the Blue Jays couldn’t figure out how to score on anything but solo home runs, and solo home runs usually don’t win games. The blasts came of the bats of Tulo in the second inning to give the Jays an early lead and Pillar in the seventh to tie things up 2-2.

Other than that though, there was nothing but frustration for the Jays at the plate. They didn’t record a hit with a runner in scoring position, but they sure squandered a great opportunity to take control of the game in the fifth. Kevin Pillar and Darwin Barney each started the frame off with singles bringing Luke Maile to the plate.

John Gibbons decided to have him bunt the runners over, but instead he popped it up, handing the Royals a free out. Normally I hate the bunt, but I can actually see what Gibbons was doing here. Maile was batting just .126 / .163 / .207 entering the day, so sacrificing that level of production for a chance to move the runners over against a good pitcher in Jason Vargas and a Kansas City team that’s typically offensively challenged isn’t a horrible idea.

The problem of course is that Maile hasn’t proven he can bunt well, which is a really bad look for him because his typical production at the plate actually warrants numerous bunts over the course of the season.

His failure to get it down here proved costly because with the double play still in order, Jose Bautista grounded into it to end the threat. Who knows how he would have been pitched to if there were runners at second and third instead of first and second; and who knows if the Royals would have played the infield in there, but the Jays best chance for a big inning all day was the fifth, and it all came unraveled when Maile popped up that bunt attempt.

Now we need to get to Alcides Escobar, because boy is it difficult to get rewarded by the baseball gods for bad play as much as he has the last two days. As a reminder, this is the swing he put on a ball last night that should have ended the game, but instead fell in for a base hit.

I went back and checked the exit velocity from that hit last night and from his three at bats today, and they came out as follows:

73.4 mph

66.7 mph

91.5 mph

73.7 mph

That comes to an average exit velocity off 76.3 mph, which is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a guy with a .221 on base percentage and a .483 OPS. He’s dog poo as a hitter.

But somehow, against all odds, all four of those exit velocities produced base hits. One of them became a triple that led to a run when Pillar and Bautista nearly came together in right field.

Sometimes when a bad hitter faces a certain team, they get hot and start launching balls over the wall and hitting rockets all over the place, but that didn’t happen here. Alcides Escobar was his typical awful self during these games and got rewarded for it. You can make a very strong argument that it was the difference in both games, which is just a bitter pill to swallow for the Jays.

The win makes Kansas City 11-2 in their last 13 games and puts them a game over .500 for the first time all year while the Jays fall back to four games under .500 at 35-39.

Jays of the Day: We’ll make Kevin Pillar (.150) and Tulo (.052) share one. Both had two hits and a solo home run (and Tulo made a sensational dive and throw play to end the seventh inning to keep the Jays in the game), but they also each had a costly movement. Tulo hit into a double play while Pillar couldn’t catch the Escobar fly ball in the fourth that led to a run.

Jays Suckage: Bautista (-.179) with that double play in the fifth, and Martin (-.122), Pearce (-.109), and Maile (-.140) for all going hitless in a tight game.

Game Graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Roll Call:

The loss ensures both a series loss in Kansas City and a losing road trip for the Jays, but they’ll try to salvage something tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. ET when Francisco Liriano takes on Jason Hammel in the series finale.