Turns out, it’s really hard to come back from large deficits in back-to-back nights. Like, really hard! The KC Royals got some first-hand knowledge in Wednesday night’s drubbing at the hands of Tampa Bay.
As the KC Royals learned Wednesday, Chris Archer isn’t one for coughing up big leads.
Blessed with an early (and sizable) lead, Archer buried the Royals in a sterling eight-inning, 11-strikeout performance and the Rays rode three home runs, including a late grand slam, to an easy win in the penultimate contest of the four-game series.
The stampede started innocuously enough with a Logan Morrison sacrifice fly in the first and a scoreless second, but things broke bad for the KC Royals in the third. After an Alcides Escobar error put Evan Longoria aboard, Morrison launched his seasons ninth home run, then Rickie Weeks Jr. followed up with a big fly of his own to give the Rays their first of two innings with crooked numbers on the board.
More from Kings of Kauffman
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 2 update
- Winter Meetings: Any blockbusters for the KC Royals?
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The versatile Nate Eaton
Two more Rays came across in the fourth. After a Derek Norris single, Corey Dickerson tripled him home and Brad Miller drifted a sac fly out to right one batter later. Norris added a run-scoring single in the fifth—the final of seven runs pushed across against Jason Hammel.
This one got a little chippy midway through. Coming off the field after the KC Royals fifth, Salvador Perez said something to Archer—apparently meant as a joke given that Salvy was smiling—and Archer didn’t seem to take kindly to it. He whipped around to shoot back a response at Perez and then, with that apparently an insufficient response to whatever Salvy said, he hit him with a pitch with two down in the seventh. Perez was lifted for Drew Butera, but hopefully that’s because it was 7-0 at the time and not because of an injury.
Afterward, Salvy had thoughts on Archer coming inside on him:
(I believe I pointed out that Archer is no stranger to on-field confrontation in Monday’s anti-preview. Of course, I’ve also been instructed to find more creative ways to… umm… get my point across… about our foe du jour as phrases like “Most Butt Player” have a way of fostering animosity. Come back Friday morning to see what I come up with!)
(I digress. Violently.)
With the KC Royals forced to dip into the bullpen multiple times Tuesday night, Hammel had to wear this one and boy did he. With his stuff deserting him and Ned Yost left with little choice but to keep tossing him out there and hope for the best, I thought Hammel responded with quality innings in the sixth and seventh. Sure, it was after five innings of mostly flame-riddled garbage, but he ate up some innings. Perhaps the bullpen can help take the finale on Thursday thanks to their bit of rest.
Mercifully lifted after seven, Hammel got to watch things take a turn from bad to disastrous in a five-run eighth. After giving up singles to Dickerson and Miller and (wisely, probably) giving Morrison a free pass, Peter Moylan issued a bases-loaded walk to Weeks and a grand slam to Colby Rasmus, snuffing out even the most desperate hopes for a KC Royals comeback.
Thursday’s finale kicks off at 12:10 p.m. (CT) and features the series’ best pitching matchup between Jason Vargas and Jake Odorizzi. Watch on MLBN (out-of-market), FSKC or MLB.com. It’s what the cool kids do.