The Royals began the second half much like they ended the first, losing a disappointing game due their bullpen allowing a crooked inning. On Friday, it was Luke Hochevar who blew a 2-1 seventh inning lead by surrendering three runs in a 4-2 loss to Detroit.
The KC Royals fell to 45-44, and are now eight games behind AL Central leader Cleveland in 4th place. The Tigers improved to 47-43, and 1.5 games ahead of the Royals in second place in the Central.
The Kansas City Royals wasted a solid start by Ian Kennedy, who lasted 5.1 innings while allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 earned runs with three strikeouts. Kennedy left the game leading 2-1 with one out in the sixth inning and a runner on first base.
The KC Royals had seized the lead after right fielder Steven Moya misplayed Salvador Perez‘s deep fly to right field into a double that bounced off the wall. Second baseman Ian Kinsler compounded Moya’s poor play with a throwing error, allowing two runners to score. That mistake appeared fatal with the Kansas City Royals dominant bullpen rested and ready to go after the All-Star break.
Instead, Luke Hochevar surrendered a home run to left fielder Tyler Collins—who came to the plate with a .100 batting average in 24 at bats. Collins solo home run tied up the game at 2-2 with one out in the seventh.
Hochevar then surrendered a single to Jose Iglesias and a bunt single to Ian Kinsler. Joakim Soria relieved Hochevar, and walked Cameron Maybin to load the bases. Soria looked like he had turned the inning around when he struck out superstar Miguel Cabrera after falling behind 3-0, but gave up a weird infield single to Victor Martinez to put Detroit up 4-2.
The KC Royals were in the shift, with second baseman Whit Merrifield in shallow right field and shortstop Alcides Escobar playing close to the bag at second base. Joakim Soria tried to field Martinez’s grounder, but it bounced off his glove and the ball dribbled to Whit Merrifield who also failed to handle it.
Thought the ball was only hit softly, it ended up going for a two-RBI infield single for one of the slowest runners in the league in 36-year-old Victor Martinez.
While this play looked like a good bit of luck for the Detroit Tigers, the supposedly shut-down Kansas City Royals bullpen allowed a solo shot to a .100 hitter and allowed the Tigers to load the bases. The bottom line is that the Royals bullpen is allowing far more base-runners than they did in the days of the dominant three headed monster of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland.
The Royals missed a golden opportunity to kick off the second half with a much-need win on the road.