The Royals brass managed to erase all of the momenum the team had created on their 5-4 road trip through the three best teams in the AL. Whomever had the final say in this matter(starting Kansas City's gift to baseball, Scott Elarton), be it Buddy Bell or Dayton Moore, suffered a major mental setback with what ensued last night.
It was probably the most predictable disaster in recent memory. Right up there with Art Shell being re-hired by the Raiders or the greenlighting of Big Momma's House 2. Who in their right mind could possibly think Elarton could even disguise himself as an average pitcher after what has transpired? The man has done everything a pitcher can do to convince a team that he is not capable of throwing baseballs in a major league ballpark. Here are some of his qualifications:
1. Sport an ERA over 9 in eight starts - check
2. Give up at least one HR for every 3 IP - check
3. Fail to go 5 innings on a consistent basis - check
4. Allow 4 HR's on multiple occasions while in Omaha - check
5. ERA over 6 on latest "rehab" assignment - check.
The man was practically shouting his own demise but no one would listen. Instead Buddy trotted his 3-legged horse out there one last time(I hope and pray). When he call to start last Friday, how could that conversation possibly have gone? Has there ever been a pitcher with weaker credentials given this long of an opportunity? Boy to have been a fly on the wall when Elarton got the call, that would've been some conversation. On the awkward scale, this one probably would've trumped the William Forrester-Jamal Wallace scenes.
The only good thing that came out of this was no home runs were allowed. Every other thing that could've hurt the team's chances of winning Tuesday or either of the subsequent series games did happen. 7 runs in less than 2 innings of work for poor Scotty, who must've had some of the worst sleep last night. Once he came out for the second inning, you kind of felt bad for him because he, every compitent fan in the stadium and the Yankees knew he had nothing left. I didn't even blame him for this as the higher-ups made this debacle a reality.
Nevertheless, Elarton, with this start now stands near the top of a nearly unheard of hall of shame. His 10.46 ERA is third all-time for pitchers who've made eight starts in one season. This version of Scotty is the worst pitcher in Royals history, just to put this horrible saga in prospective.
Congrats Dayton and Buddy, your decision taxed the vaunted bullpen, making them go a season-high seven and a third innings, thus forcing Meche or De La Rosa to each go about seven innings in their respective starts to even have a chance at evening the series. In a season where the team is making everyone forget what it was like to watch the Royals from 2004-2006, they cram three years of pain into one night(just so the bandwagon and T-shirt grubbing fans could be warned one last time what they are getting into). This night signified everything that is wrong with the Buddy Bell era. And if last week gave him any hope of sticking around for 2008, tonight's effort slammed that door. He will surely remember this one when he's stuck as the first base coach of the Pawtucket Red Sox next season. Sadly this may not be the last time this happens as Elarton's slot could be filled by the bearded home run machine on Sunday. If that were the case, this brutal scenario would be rehashed and the season would be impossible to put back together. But knowing Bell and this organization, one trial of humiliation may not be enough.