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Bullpen blowup, defensive miscue costs Royals in 7-3 loss

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At least Angel Hernandez blew a couple calls in our favor.

Cleveland Indians v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The bullpen continued its struggles, while a Nicky Lopez error helped open the floodgates in a 7-3 Cleveland win in the second game of a four-game series. The Royals got on the board in the second inning, when extra-base-hit machine Hunter Dozier hit a one-out double, one of his two doubles on the night. Michael Taylor drove him home to make it 1-0, Royals.

The Royals plated another run in the third with one of the more bizarre plays you’ll see that involved poor umpiring by - guess who? - Angel Hernandez. Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi each singled, then stole a base to put runners at second and third with one out. Salvador Pérez hit a long fly ball that Indians outfielder Harold Ramirez whiffed on at the wall, allowing Whit to score easily. But Benintendi wandered between second and third, seemingly uncertain of what had just happened, and was tagged out.

Apparently, Hernandez had signalled “out”, thinking Ramirez had caught the ball, misleading Benintendi, who was uncertain whether he needed to tag up or not. In fairness, Ramirez caught the ball against the video board, where the lights could have made it difficult to ascertain if it was caught or not. On the other hand, Hernandez did not seem to get to the outfield to get a better view with any kind of urgency. In any case, Hernandez ruled that because Benintendi had mistakenly thought the ball was caught because of the umpire, he would be awarded third base. Ah, the human element.

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In the fifth, Salvy would make it 3-0 with an absolutely mammoth 460-foot blast, his team-leading seventh home run of the year.

Mike Minor had a no-hitter through the first four innings, but like many of his other starts this year, he looks great at first and seems so close to getting through his outing with good numbers, but things fall apart at the last minute. With one out, Cesar Hernandez doubled, and Jordan Luplow walked. A Jose Ramirez infield single loaded the bases. Franmil Reyes hit a chopper off Greg Holland that Nicky Lopez misplayed to allow two runs to score. Harold Ramirez would tie it up with an RBI single to make it 3-3.

The Royals’ bullpen has some good arms, but they came into the game with the second-worst ERA in the American League, and that went up tonight. Josh Staumont came on for the eighth and gave Franmil Reyes a steady diet of curveballs he wasn’t able to locate, leading to a one-out walk. Harold Ramirez doubled him home, and Josh Naylor drove Ramirez home to make it 5-3. Jake Bauers hit a long home run off Tyler Zuber to make it 7-3 and put the game away.

The Royals got off to a hot start against some weaker opposition, but the warts are starting to show. The defense - which is missing the glove of Adalberto Mondesi - has been suspect all season. The bullpen - which has some good arms - lacks depth. The starters - who have been solid at times - don’t have the ability to go deep in games. And the hitters - who do have improved plate discipline - still let too many scoring opportunities go by.

The Royals are now 16-12 and are tied with the White Sox for first place. They have dropped four of five and will have to get right against one of the top pitchers in baseball tomorrow night in Shane Bieber. 18-11 is no longer a possibility, my friends. Now, the Royals have to avoid their typical May slump.