After blowing a prime opportunity to win the game in extras, the Royals fell to the Cleveland Indians in 11 innings on Wednesday night 5-3. It marked the 10th consecutive loss to Cleveland.
In his first start since early June, Jackson Kowar took the ball and faced one of the hottest offenses in baseball. Contrary to his first two Major League starts, Kowar appeared to be calm, cool, and collected. His mechanics were smooth, he didn’t chomp his gum so viciously, and his stuff was electric. After allowing a lead-off single in the first, Kowar picked up a strikeout on a 98-mph fastball, picked off a runner, and got an infield pop up.
In the bottom of the first, the Royals opened the scoring off left-hander Logan Allen. With the bases loaded and one out, Michal A. Taylor poked a sacrifice fly to right field — giving Kansas City a 1-0 lead. Kowar followed up his first inning with another scoreless frame in the second.
It wasn’t all about Kowar on Wednesday night, though. Adalberto Mondesi, who spent the majority of the year on the inactive list, singled in his first at-bat since June 20th. He then swiped third and scored on a wild throw to make it a 2-0 game.
Two innings later, Mondesi reminded everyone of the power he still possesses. On a 1-0 curveball, Mondesi cranked one into the fountains in left-center field. The ball traveled over 104 mph and 422 feet. It was his fifth home run in just 11 games this season.
Back on the mound, Kowar continued to baffle Cleveland hitters with his change-up. The right-hander struck out five through his first five innings without allowing a run.
Jackson Kowar, 88mph Changeup (Swing K) against Franmil Reyes. pic.twitter.com/llGjGKoBvy— 준 Jun (@Royals_Jun) September 2, 2021
It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Indians broke through off Kowar. In a bit of a jam with two runners on and two outs, Kowar left a pitch up to Andrés Giménez. On contact, the ball carried to deep left-center field. However. Taylor appeared to have a beat on it. Unfortunately for the Royals and Kowar, the ball glanced off Taylor’s glove — scoring two runs. At first, it was scored as a hit. However, it was later changed to an error. The ball had an estimated catch probability of 10%.
In the end, it was still a positive outing for the rookie out of Florida. For the first time in his career, Kowar logged a quality start — allowing just two unearned runs over six innings with six strikeouts. He became the first Royals pitcher to record five-or-more strikeouts with his change-up since Edinson Volquez in 2016.
Jackson Kowar, 87mph Changeup Grip (Swing Strike) against Harold Ramirez. pic.twitter.com/NNXNi4jXwq— 준 Jun (@Royals_Jun) September 2, 2021
In the top of the seventh, however, Kowar lost his chance to pick up his first win. With two outs and nobody on, Jake Brentz left a hanging slider in the zone to Yu Chang, who crushed it over the wall in left field to tie the game.
In the latter stages, the Royals found stability in their bullpen with Josh Staumont. The flame-throwing righty retired all four batters he faced and showed off his soccer skills on one of the wildest defensive gems of the year.
Kick save and a beauty. Just a little 1-3 ground out pic.twitter.com/OniSD5tIoq— Joel Goldberg (@goldbergkc) September 2, 2021
After both teams were scoreless in the ninth, the AL Central foes headed into extras tied up at three. Domingo Tapia did his job and worked out of a bases loaded jam in top half without allowing a run — setting up the Royals to walk it off in the bottom of the 10th. Only, that’s the exact opposite of what happened.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Salvador Perez struck out, Carlos Santana popped out and Taylor swung at a 2-0 pitch up in the zone and popped out. As it usually goes, when one team spoils a good opportunity the other pounces. The Indians did just that and took the lead for good in the 11th on an RBI-single from Austin Hedges and RBI-double from Chang.
The Royals, 59-73, look to avoid the sweep tomorrow night against Cleveland. Triston McKenzie goes for the Indians and Kansas City has yet to name a starter. First pitch is slated fo 7:10 p.m.