Through six games, the Royals had been shut out three times. And after being down 6-0 through six innings, it looked like the struggling offense was on its way to another blanking, down. The offense, however, rallied late and even brought the tying run to the plate in the 8th, but ultimately came up short in a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays.
Royals’ starter Jordan Lyles got off to a rough start in the 1st. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled and moved to 3rd on Daulton Varsho’s double. The Blue Jays took advantage on the Royal killer Matt Chapman’s two-RBI double, giving Toronto an early 2-0 lead in the first frame.
Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman made quick work of the Royals in the bottom half of the inning before Lyles seemingly recovered, starting the 2nd with back-to-back strikeouts. That’s when the Kansas City defense let him down a bit.
Kevin Kiermaier lined a ball up the middle that deflected off of Lyles's gloves and legged out a double after Nate Eaton didn’t make the best play on the ball. Bo Bichette then appeared to pop out to end the inning but MJ Melendez dropped the ball, allowing the at-bat to continue.
He then blooped a single into right that may have been caught with a more experienced outfielder than Nick Pratto out there, allowing Kiermaier to score and giving the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead.
They tacked three more runs on in the 4th and 5th and 7th with solo homers from Cavan Biggio and Guerrero Jr, as well as an RBI single from Varsho, putting Toronto up 6-0.
Meanwhile, the Royals offense continue to struggle mightily. It’s worth noting again that the Kansas City offense hasn’t been hapless. They entered today’s game with a BABIP of .189, over 40 points lower than the next lowest team. Both Michael Massey and MJ Melendez smoked balls that wound up in the glove of an outfielder today.
And to put this further into context, every single batter has an expected wOBA that is higher than his actual wOBA. Eight of those batters have an xwOBA that’s over 50 points higher and four are over 100 points higher. Among the top 53 hitters with the biggest negative difference between wOBA and xwOBA, there are seven Royals’ hitters. They represent 13% of those batters. No other team has more than three batters on that list.
In other words, Kansas City is due. Nonetheless, they are absolutely going through it right now. If they had bad luck in the past, that was less prominent today. The saving grace for this offense has been the hard contact and the improved walk rate. Today, there wasn’t a ton of hard contact or walks.
Gausman made light work of them, giving up just four hits across his 6.0 innings of work and striking out seven Royals and needed just 86 pitches to do it. On the other end, Lyles gave up eight hits and five runs. Positively, he struck out nine batters and walked none. He also had a run that probably should have been an unearned run.
Kansas City rallied a bit in the final third of the game, beginning with Bobby Witt Jr’s first homer of the season, bringing the Royals to within five runs. Melendez led off the 8th with a walk and moved to 3rd on Salvador Perez’s single, presenting a late threat from Kansas City.
Toronto responded by going with lefty Tim Mayza to face Vinnie Pasquantino, who lined the first pitch he saw into right field for an RBI single, making it a 6-2 game. Olivares followed with an RBI double to cut the lead to three and bringing the tying run to the plate.
However, Blue Jays’ relievers got the next two of the three Royals to strike out, stranding both runners in scoring position. It was the last rally the Royals would put together, with Kansas City going quietly in the 9th to end the 6-3 series-clinching loss.
The loss drops the Royals to 1-6 while the Blue Jays improve to 4-3.
Up Next: Royals at Giants, Friday, April 7, 3:35 PM CDT, Oracle Park. RHP Brad Keller (0-1, 3.86 ERA) v. Alex Cobb (0-0, 2.45 ERA)