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Yet another Royals rally runs aground

The Royals needed three in the ninth but could only get two

Kansas City Royals center fielder Kyle Isbel (28) makes a catch for an out against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park.
Kyle Isbel did not do anyone any favors, today.
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Much as I complained about Jordan Lyles, he probably isn’t too guilty for today’s loss. Lyles pitched his third complete game of the season and allowed only two earned runs. both home runs, in his eight innings of work. The timing of those runs was particularly unfortunate, however.

The Royals took an early lead with a Bobby Witt Jr. single, stolen base, and Michael Massey single. It looked like they might get a second run when Salvador Perez drove one to the track in right-center but Seiya Suzuki managed to pull it down. That would be the last credible Royals threat until the ninth inning.

Lyles immediately gave the lead back up in the bottom of the first inning with a little help from Kyle Isbel, playing in centerfield. A lineout to Witt was followed by a line drive he couldn’t get to off the bat of Nico Hoerner. Then Ian Happ lined a ball into center and Isbel charged it aggressively. Too aggressively, as it turned out, the ball skipped past him and he had to stop his momentum and get going in the other direction. In the end, left fielder MJ Melendez got to it before he could. Hoerner scored and Happ ended up at third base thanks to the two-bag error. He promptly scored on a deep flyball off the bat of Cody Bellinger.

Lyles gave up a home run in the fifth to Suzuki immediately after announcer Ryan LeFebvre mentioned that Suzuki had not been as good a hitter as the Cubs had hoped. He allowed a final run on a bomb by Miguel Amaya in the eighth inning.

Unfortunately, that final home run would prove to be the difference in the game. The Royals bats finally woke up in the ninth after Nelson Velázquez was hit on the helmet with a pitch. Isbel hit a single to send Velázquez to third. Maikel Garcia was then called upon to pinch hit for Matt Duffy.

As an aside, during the broadcast at this point they informed that Garcia’s upper body discomfort was localized to his left shoulder but only happened while he was throwing. The first time this happened, the day he came back they said that it only hurt while he was running. Either there’s a new story every day or he’s got a moving injury. I’m not sure which would be worse.

In any case, Garcia lined a single to center to drive in Velázquez and send Isbel to third. The tying run was on and Drew Waters was allowed to pinch hit for Matt Beaty. Waters swung at the first pitch and hit a grounder to the right side. It couldn’t quite squeak through and Waters was thrown out, but Garcia went to second and Isbel scored. One more hit would have tied the game.

Dairon Blanco came to the plate, never saw a strike, and hit the third pitch on the ground to end the game.

It’s hard to blame manager Matt Quatraro too much for this one. Lyles had pitched well after the first inning and the bullpen has been a disaster ever since their resident criminal was traded for my favorite active starting pitcher. Garcia and Waters would get choices to pinch hit in the ninth and it almost worked out for him. It’s just unfortunate that the front office couldn’t provide him a better roster to work with so that he had higher quality veterans than Lyles, Duffy, and Beaty to rely on.

The Royals are now 4-11 since their seven-game winning streak. They head next to the west coast where they will open a three-game series with the Oakland A’s. Get ready for some late-night baseball.