The Royals lost their third straight game, falling to the Cleveland Indians 6-3 Saturday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. Sunday is the last game of the season.
The Kansas City Royals fell to 82-81 with Saturday’s 6-3 defeat. They need to win their final game on Sunday to finish their fourth straight season above .500 and avoid a sweep to AL Central champs Cleveland.
Edinson Volquez struggled once again. He lasted only 5.0 innings, allowing 5 hits, 4 walks, and 3 earned runs with 5 strikeouts. He left the game trailing 3-1 after the Indians scratched out single runs in the second, third, and fifth innings.
The Royals struck back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning against Indians starter Trevor Bauer. Kendrys Morales started the inning with a double to deep right center. Paulo Orlando followed with another double to left to make the score 3-2.
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The game remained tied through the seventh inning, but manager Ned Yost asked rookie reliever Matt Strahm to pitch a second inning in the eighth. Strahm walked pinch hitter Rajai Davis to open the frame.
Strahm recovered to strike out Coco Crisp, but then Cleveland manager Terry Francona substituted right-handed pinch hitter Abraham Almonte for rookie Tyler Naquin. Ned Yost countered with rookie right-handed reliever Kevin McCarthy.
But, the move didn’t work. Rajai Davis stole second. Then Whit Merrifielda allowed a run to score when a hot shot off the bat of Almonte handcuffed him after taking only one bounce. The ball glanced off his glove into right field and Davis scored to take the lead for the Indians 4-3.
That run was charged to Matt Strahm.
McCarthy then walked the next two hitters, but then retired Jason Kipnis on a line drive to second base. McCarthy appeared he might escape the inning allowing only the single run, but then Francisco Lindor smacked a double left to plate two men. At 6-3, the Indians had taken control of the game.
In what has become September’s recurring theme, the Kansas City Royals bullpen failed in the late innings. While manager Ned Yost did put the game in the hands of two rookie relievers, at least one of them is a guy they expect to have a significant role in 2017 (Strahm). KC general manager Dayton Moore will have to tighten up his bullpen this winter.