As Eric Skoglund walked off of the mound, every faithful Royals fan in attendance and those following along on radio and TV knew they had just witnessed something special.
Eric Hosmer said the crowd ovation and tip of the cap to the crowd gave him “goosebumps.” Manager Ned Yost told Skoglund to listen to walk slow and take it all in, that the crowd would let him know how he did. Skoglund’s dad cried in the crowd.
Its truly not often in baseball that a fan has these sorts of moments, but this was undeniably one of them. That game will certainly be remembered.
The 24-year old left-hander went up against one of the best pitchers of this era in Justin Verlander, and delivered one for the ages with 6.1 innings of scoreless work en route to a 1-0 Royals victory, made possible by a timely hit from Eric Hosmer – who has a MLB-best 67 go-ahead RBI over the last three seasons.
These types of games have the flavor Royals fans remember feeling during the 2014 and 2015 seasons which were filled with special and memorable moments. Something scarce of late, it seems.
The intensity of “don’t ruin this Ned, don’t leave him out too long” combined with the “good grief, PLEASE get this kid a run” and “oh, great, leave it up to the bullpen to ruin his debut” made it both suspenseful and satisfying at the same time. For one night, Eric Skoglud did something that has been missing for quite some time now. He made Royals baseball fun again.
We watched history being made. The tallest left handed starter in Royals history pitched the 64th 1-0 win in Royals history after going (at least) the 3rd longest in Royals history without giving up a run to start a career as a starter, and the first Royals starter to win their MLB debut since 2005 (JP Howell).
When Skoglund exited, he gave the kind of cap tip usually reserved for a last game, not a first…..but frankly who the hell cares? With every fan at home and in the stands on their feet, Ned Yost told the young pitcher to enjoy that moment, and he did.
The 2014 third round pick by no means has given reason to offer any sort of lofty expectation up to this point of the season. He had, by and large, struggled at AAA Omaha with a 4.53 ERA this season, after performing so-so at the AA level last season. Prior to his call-up, he was 15-18 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.185 WHIP in his minor league career. He delivery looks distinctly similar to Chris Sale’s, and he hides the ball well.
Given the “Murderers Row” of right handers and switch hitters stacked in the Tigers lineup, it seemed more a mistake to tap the left handed Skoglund as the starter than it did a good idea. While he has managed to crack many top 10 organizational prospect lists, this was not an “ace in the making” simply fulfilling a prophecy of forgone conclusion. (Royals Review has an excellent “Who Is Eric” piece here).
Through the need generated by attrition the Royals watched their ace Danny Duffy go down with injury, possibly gone months. This following Nathan Karns exit to the disabled list earlier this month. With Chris Young being the staff jugs machine during his starts this season, and no other “good” options already on the Royals 25-man, there simply was no one else.
think it can be summed up best by Miguel Cabrera…..thumbs up kid.
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