It isn’t often that a team comes back from down seven runs. The biggest comeback in Royals history is nine runs. But that’s exactly what this young, win-deprived squad did.
After going down 8-1 after 2.5 innings, Kansas City orchestrated a frenzied comeback, scoring eight unanswered runs and ultimately taking a 9-8 lead in the 7th after scoring runs in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th innings.
It was all for naught.
Aroldis Chapman blew the save, surrendering the game-tying and game-winning runs in the 8th. Baltimore added three more in the 9th against Chapman’s replacement Amir Garrett. This time, the Royals were unable to put together a comeback and ultimately fell to the Orioles 13-10. To make matters worst, the game ended with Hunter Dozier at the plate representing the tying run. He was batting in place of Vinnie Pasquantino, taking over for him in the 8th as a defensive replacement.
The loss pushes the Royals to 8-24 on the season and they drop yet another series. Kansas City has just one series win all season and they have dropped seven straight. The home record falls to 2-14.
By the 2nd inning, this game seemed all but over. Lyles looked to be on his way to a clean 1st inning after two strikeouts when MJ Melendez dropped the third out of the inning. Anthony Santander followed with a two-run homer, putting Baltimore up 2-0. Not ideal, but both runs unearned.
However, an erratic Lyles was unable to coral himself, giving up a single, a walk, and a hit batter before Cedric Mullins doubled them all in to put the Orioles up 5-0. Kansas City got one back in the bottom of the 2nd before Lyles once again looked poised for a quick inning. After getting the first two outs of the 3rd, though, Lyles issues a walk, wild pitch, an RBI single to Jorge Mateo, another wild pitch, and finally a two-run homer to Gunnar Henderson.
When the dust settled, it was 8-1 Baltimore. In fairness to Lyles, he did what he always does. He continued throwing. Matt Quatraro kept him out there and he was able to muster his way through five innings, including a big shutdown 5th inning.
However, it was the latest in a string of bad starts from Lyles, which included giving up seven runs in his last start to the Twins. The Royals paid him far more than he was worth, and with Kris Bubic’s injury, he seems to have a stable spot in the rotation, even when Daniel Lynch returns. With that said Kansas City got what they paid for: An innings eater that isn’t good at preventing runs. And they paid more than that skillset is worth.
Meanwhile, the Royals offense rallied. Freddy Fermin opened the 3rd with his first career home run, a no-doubter.
Bobby Witt Jr. followed with a walk and scored on Salvador Perez’s 6th homer of the season, cutting the Orioles lead to 8-4. For all the Royals’ struggles this season, Perez has quietly been raking, even before the recent onslaught of homers. Since April 18, Salvy is slashing .341/.340/.636, good for an wRC+ of 181 while walking 6% (!!) of the time. And that isn’t counting today’s homer.
Melendez followed with his second double of the day, but Orioles starter Grayson Rodriguez was able to escape the one-out jam. The rookie and former first-rounder struggled despite being given a massive lead, which continued into the 4th with a Kyle Isbel solo shot, cutting the lead to 8-5. It was Isbel’s first homer of the season and the 3rd of the game for Kansas City.
Fermin immediately followed another first, this time his first-career triple and immediately putting him on cycle watch. Witt Jr popped out for the 2nd out, but Vinnie Pasquantino came through with an RBI single to bring the Royals within two runs.
A leadoff single from Melendez led to a crucial sequence when Nick Pratto appeared to ground into a double play. Kansas City challenged the call and were successful, leaving Pratto on 1st. This allowed Michael Massey to line an RBI double into the right-center gap, trimming that lead all the way down to 8-7. Isbel left Massey at 2nd, but the damage was done.
Kansas City trailed 8-1 after 2.5 innings and responded with six unanswered runs. But their best opportunity yet to actually win the game came in the bottom of the 6th. After a scoreless debut inning from Austin Cox, the Royals loaded the bases with one out on a leadoff walk from Fermin, a double from Witt Jr, and an intentional walk to Salvy. This brought a red-hot Melendez to the plate to face lefty Danny Coulombe, who came on for Bryan Baker.
Coulombe got Melendez to chase a 2-1 fastball and a 2-2 sweeper to strike him out before striking out Pratto to end the inning. It would prove to be a missed opportunity that loomed large.
The offense rebounded immediately in the 7th, starting with a Maikel Garcia double. Garcia then stole 3rd and scored on Isbel’s bunt single to tie the game at 8-8 with runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. A Witt Jr single drove in Massey, who walked after Garcia’s double, and wouldn’t you know it, the Kansas City Royals were winning this baseball game 9-8.
It wouldn’t last long.
Aroldis Chapman promptly found himself in trouble, with runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. A Ramon Urias single scored both, putting the Orioles back on top 10-9. More importantly for later, Hunter Dozier had come on as a defensive replacement, taking the spot of Pasquentino in the lineup. They added three more runs in the 9th off Garrett, making it 13-9.
Chapman and Garrett combined to give up five earned runs and walk five batters in just 1.1 innings of work.
Somehow, the resilient Royals offense rallied once more in the 9th, adding a 10th run and bringing the tying run to the plate in Witt Jr. He struck out, bringing up Dozier representing the tying run. That is, not Vinnie Pasquantino, the Royals’ best hitter by a country mile. Dozier struck out to end the game.
Hindsight is 20/20, of course. However, in a game that had already featured 17 runs, removing his best hitter from the lineup for a defender who has accounted for -51.6 defensive runs above average in his career? Not Matt Quatraro’s best moment.
There’s not much else to say. This is about as backbreaking of a loss that an 8-
23 24 team can have.
Onto the Athletics.
Up Next: Royals v. Athletics, Friday, May 5, 7:10 PM CDT, Kauffman Stadium. RHP Brad Keller (2-2, 3.56 ERA) v. LHP Kyle Muller (0-2, 6.28 ERA)