When it comes to pitching, consistency is not a term that fills the mind when speaking of the 2019 Royals. On Monday afternoon, that pattern of spotty performances was front and center in the series finale in Toronto. Bludgeoned for the first two innings, Kansas City limped out of Canada after an 11-4 beatdown.
Positing an earned run average over ten on the road and a sub-two ERA in the confines of Kauffman Stadium, the inability to string together quality starts for Royals starter Glenn Sparkman, has dwindled his hopes of holding a spot in the rotation long term. Hoping to bounce back after surrendering five runs in 5 2⁄3 innings at Cleveland last time out, Sparkman would face the team he debuted with. Likely mulling over bad memories inside Rogers Centre, a place in which he allowed seven runs and recorded less than three outs in his final outing as a Blue Jay, the right-hander nearly duplicated his dreadful performance from two years ago.
After the Royals were sat down 1-2-3 in the top of the first by Clayton Richard, a 35-year-old lefty with a 6.89 ERA coming in, Toronto came to the plate swinging viciously. Following a lead-off single by Eric Sogard and 110-mph double off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Sparkman found himself in hot water early. Eventually plating two on a RBI-groundout by Cavan Biggio and a single from Randal Grichuk, Kansas City was lucky to escape without further damage. Only that damage came an inning later. Despite hitting below .200, Teoscar Hernández led-off the top of the second with a blast into the seats in left field. Shortstop Freddy Galvis piggybacked him with a solo shot of his own. Five hitters later, Biggio came through again with a double to right field scoring two and Grichuk brought him home on another two-out single. Before the Royals could even make it through their lineup, the Blue Jays had smacked Sparkman for seven runs. Oddly enough, he remained in the game to complete third but was relieved of his duties after he served up a second home run to Galvis.
However, using some fuel from Sunday’s comeback, Kansas City chipped away at the massive deficit in the top of the fourth. Carrying the momentum from his performance the day before, Jorge Soler dropped an RBI-single into right center to put the Royals on the board. Cheslor Cuthbert followed him up with single to left field, scoring Hunter Dozier. And rookie Humberto Arteaga kept the line moving with an RBI-single of his own to cut the lead down to five. Unfortunately, the small rally was the closest Kansas City would come to breaking through. As Brian Flynn relieved Sparkman to eat some innings and salvage the bullpen before heading home, Toronto didn’t have too many issues barreling the 6’7 Flynn. Tagging the left-hander for three runs on seven hits in four innings, the Blue Jays inflated their lead to 11-3 heading into seventh inning.
Playing in his first game as an All-Star, Whit Merrifield did manage to record an RBI in the top of the seventh. Lining it to right-center, the Royals representative drove in Martín Maldonado for the clubs fourth and final run of the day. Dropping three of four in Toronto, Kansas City will travel back home for their final series at Kauffman Stadium in the first half.
Tomorrow, the Royals will welcome the Tribe. Trevor Bauer will face Kansas City for the second time in a week and Jakob Junis will do the same against Cleveland. First pitch is set for 7:15 CT.