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Questionable bullpen management dooms Royals in 5-4 loss to Indians

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Boom, Yosted.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals continued to get short outings from starting pitchers not named Ian Kennedy, as Edinson Volquez was knocked out in the fifth in a 5-4 loss to the Indians. Over the last 12 games, Royals starting pitchers have an ERA of 6.41 and have averaged just 5.0 innings per start. The Royals drop their ninth game in twelve tries and fall to .500 for the year at 15-15.

The Indians got on the board right away, with Carlos Santana drilling the second pitch of the game from Edinson Volquez over the wall in deep right-center for his fifth home run of the season. The Royals stormed back for three runs in the fourth off Indians starter Josh Tomlin, paced by a two-run home run by Eric Hosmer, his fifth of the season. After an Alex Gordon single, Salvador Perez would knock him home with an RBI double, one of two doubles on the afternoon for Salvy.

Mike Napoli hit a long solo home run in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to 3-2, but Volquez got himself into a bases loaded jam by allowing two singles and a walk. Edinson was able to escape by inducing a ground ball to Jason Kipnis although he was initially ruled safe when first base umpire Mark Carlson ruled Eric Hosmer had pulled off first base on the throw from Christian Colon. However a replay review later revealed that Hosmer had his foot on the bag, and Kipnis was ruled out to end the threat.

It seems like it has been awhile since Ned Yost has made a truly baffling bullpen decision, but he will certainly be second-guessed for how he handled the fifth inning. With the Royals leading 3-2, Edinson Volquez came into the inning with over 90 pitches thrown through the first four frames, having not looked particularly sharp all afternoon. After Francisco Lindor led off with a single, it seemed as if Eddie's day would soon be over, especially when Danny Duffy began warming up. Once Michael Brantley followed up with an RBI single after Lindor's steal of second, many would have gone to the bullpen. Or perhaps after Volquez walked Mike Napoli. At the very least, nearly every fan agreed that Volquez should have gotten the plug after Yan Gomes grounded into a fielder's choice, setting up a lefty/lefty matchup with Duffy and Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall.

Instead, Ned Yost left Volquez in to face Chisenhall, and on his 105th pitch of the afternoon, Edinson allowed a two-run single. Duffy was then called in to face right-handed hitter Marlon Byrd. Duffy fooled Byrd with a 95 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate, but when he went there again, Byrd was ready and smashed the pitch over Dyson's head in right field to score the third run of the inning. Just like that, the Royals trailed 5-3. Boom, Yosted.

The Royals had a serious scoring threat in the seventh when Salvador Perez led off with his second double of the day. Zack McAllister came in to relieve Tomlin and gave up an infield single to Cheslor Cuthbert before Christian Colon laced a ground ball just inside the third base line for an RBI double to cut the lead to 5-4. With runners at second and third, Jarrod Dyson chopped a grounder to Francisco Lindor, an excellent defender. Cuthbert broke for home, and Lindor easily nabbed him to prevent a run. Alcides Escobar followed up with a routine ground ball double play and the Royals failed to take full advantage of the inning.

The Royals drop their fourth straight series and have not won back-to-back games since April 21-22 against Detroit and Baltimore. There was hope that maybe the Royals had snapped out of their funk with an impressive 7-0 victory, but poor starting pitching, defensive miscues, baserunning blunders, and poor clutch hitting continued today. The Royals at least made this competitive, but it is clear they are not doing the things it takes to win games. They had better re-discover how to play winning baseball soon, before the Central Division title is out of reach.