This version of Kauffman Stadium is going out with a lot less pomp or circumstance than, say, Yankee Stadium. And the Royals sure did their part to keep it on the down-low in their final home game of the season.
They closed the original version of the once state-of-the-art stadium with just four hits in a 3-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox in front of 16,920 that took a getaway day time of 2 hours and 28 minutes.
When we next see this place, the dirt and hard-hat areas will be replaced by what architects have promised will be one of the best places in the country to watch a ballgame. Royals fans, no doubt, are hoping their team also improves.
You probably didn’t need to hear this, but the Royals have now been shut out 12 times — the most since their 104-loss season in 2004.
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“I didn’t know about that,” said catcher John Buck. “But what can you do? We had two situations in this game where we had guys in scoring position and hit line drives that turned into outs. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen for you.”
For positives, you start with Alex Gordon making one of the best catches of the season on a popup by Paul Konerko. Gordon found the railing in front of Chicago’s dugout, then stretched as far as his 6-foot-1 frame would go — nearly toppling over and down the steps — before coming out with the catch.
Other than that, it’s worth mentioning that the bullpen threw three more scoreless innings, and Brandon Duckworth continued his late-season push to be in the mix for a rotation spot next spring.
His solid-if-unspectacular line: six-plus innings, five hits, one walk and three runs. He’s given up three or fewer runs in five or more innings in all but one of his five starts this season.
If that’s too many numbers to sort through quickly, just know that he’s been the equivalent of a very serviceable back-of-the-rotation guy since his callup last month.
“I knew what my role was,” Duckworth said. “I just wanted to go out there, give good quality starts and give us chances to win. I’ve felt I’ve done that.”
Offensively, the Royals continued their season-long — longer? — trend of struggling to score runs. This is the 12th time they’ve been shut out, and with a week left, that’s already the most since 13 in the 104-loss 2004 season.
Gordon had the only extra-base hit of the day for Kansas City on a solid line drive to right field. The Royals managed just six balls to the outfield against Danks.
“It was pretty much the full package,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “Everything, the velocity, the deceptiveness, real good late life.”
The Royals’ defense could’ve prevented the first run. Dewayne Wise singled, then went all the way to third base on a single by Jermaine Dye to left field.
Next batter up was Jim Thome, who hit a popup into shallow left field. Shortstop Mike Aviles, playing the shift, had a long run to get it but ended up making the catch because nobody else called it and left fielder David DeJesus couldn’t get to the ball.
Wise tagged, and Aviles’ momentum carried him away from the plate, so he didn’t get much on the throw and Wise scored easily.
“We didn’t help (Duckworth) defensively there,” catcher John Buck said. “That should’ve never happened. He did everything he could after that.”
The run was actually something of poetic justice for Wise, who was robbed of a double when his hard shot down the right field line clanged off umpire Paul Schrieber, who did a Tommy Lasorda tumble. Wise would’ve had a sure double, but had to settle for a single.
The way the Royals were (or weren’t) swinging it, that would’ve been all the offense Chicago needed. But they added two more on a towering, 407-foot home run by Koberko over the left field wall.
“It was a slider, it just didn’t slide,” Duckworth said. “It slid out of the park.”