Less than two weeks ago, the Royals were 16-9, coming off a blowout win over the Twins. They led their division by 1.5 games over the White Sox and possessed the best record in baseball. Then the wheels fell off.
Following today’s 4-3 loss to the Tigers, the Royals remain at 16 wins, using the last two weeks to add 11 consecutive losses. That is tied for the 4th worst streak in franchise history. Kansas City will enter its series against the White Sox at 16-20, fresh off being swept by the worst team in the American League. In fact, they have been swept in three consecutive series’.
And the latest sweep bookended a dreadful streak in an ironic fashion. A streak that started with blown leads against Cleveland reached its apex with multiple failed comeback attempts. They mounted a comeback from down 7-0, only to lose 8-7 on Tuesday. And today, they mounted a comeback from down 4-0, only to lose 4-3.
Royals starter Daniel Lynch struggled again, failing to get out of the 3rd inning. A scoreless bottom of the 1st was not indicative of what was to come, giving up four runs on five hits in the 2nd. He gave up two more two-out singles in the bottom of the 3rd before Mike Matheny went to Tyler Zuber to get out of the 3rd still down 4-0.
Zuber would strike out Willi Castro to end the inning and escape further damage. Lynch finished the afternoon pitching 2.2 innings, giving up a whopping seven hits and three earned runs.
He struck out four batters, a singular positive from an otherwise dreadful outing. However, we should remember that Lynch has an entire eight Major League innings too his name, so let’s give his stuff some time to come around. And while he did put the Royals in a difficult situation with a doubleheader looming tomorrow, his fellow lefty Kris Bubic picked him up.
Zuber gave way for Kris Bubic to start the 4th, who would have likely started a game tomorrow had Lynch been able to give the Royals innings. While that side of his appearance was disappointing, Bubic’s performance was just what the Royals needed.
Bubic finished out the game for Kansas City, giving the Royals five shutout innings, racking up six strikeouts and giving up just three hits. He has pitches 10.2 consecutive scoreless innings out of the bullpen and if Lynch is replaced in the rotation, Bubic looks to be the guy who takes his spot.
Meanwhile, the Royals offense continued to struggle. They pushed across just one run through eight innings despite eight hits and two walks. They left 11 on base and finished 1-11 with runners in scoring position.
The lack of offense helped Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull turn in his best start of the season, striking out seven Royals compared to just one walk while pitching into the 7th inning. A Nicky Lopez single with one out in that 7th inning chased Turnbull in favor of Alex Lange and the Tigers bullpen.
Lange walked Carlos Santana to bring up the tying run represented by Salvador Perez, but he grounded out to end the inning.
The Royals offense is in critical condition at the moment. They have eight qualified hitters, tied with Houston for the most in either league. In other words, Kansas City is trotting out the same guys, day in and day out. Of those eight, four have a wRC+ below 86. And over the last seven games, they have scored fewer than four runs six times and one run or fewer four times.
Kansas City threatened in the 8th, bring the tying run to the plate twice in Hunter Dozier and Michael Taylor. But Tigers reliever Jose Cisnero struck them both out to end the inning. It was the 30th consecutive at-bat that ended without a hit for Dozier.
The Royals rallied in the 9th, thanks to a leadoff walk from Nicky Lopez and a double from Whit Merrifield. For the third consecutive inning, they brought the tying run to the plate, this time represented by their best hitter in Santana. He grounded out to short, bringing in a run and making it a 4-2 game. Sal followed that up with a single to make it a 4-3 game, bringing up Jorge Soler, who represented the go-ahead run with just one out.
A.J. Hinch responded by bringing Michael Fulmer into the ballgame, popping up Soler and striking out Andrew Benintendi on three pitches to end the game. It was Fulmer’s second career save.
Up Next: Royals at White Sox; Friday, May 14, 2021, 2:10 PM CDT and 7:10 PM CDT, Guaranteed Rate Field. Game one starters: TBD v. RHP Lucas Giolitio (2-3, 4.54 ERA). Game two starters: TBD v. RHP Michael Kopech (2-0, 1.61 ERA)