The KC Royals surrendered 11 runs and 21 hits Saturday night. But the club’s inconsistent offense never really let them get in the game.
The KC Royals lost to Chicago 11-5 Saturday evening. But don’t place all the blame on starter Ronald Bolanos, who gifted the White Sox five runs on five hits and couldn’t make it through two innings, the bullpen that surprisingly surrendered 16 hits and another six runs after Bolanos left, or the club’s four errors.
Attribute a good bit of the loss to the Royals’ primary sore spot this season, a painfully inconsistent offense that so far stands squarely in the way of a successful season.
Kansas City had scored 33 runs in the eight games preceding Saturday’s contest, but that’s a total skewed by a 14-run outburst against Detroit in the season’s fourth game; the Royals averaged only 2.7 runs in the other seven and were shut out once.
The five runs KC scored Saturday tied their second-best output and their 15 hits is a season high. But those 15 hits (two more than they needed to score their 14 runs against the Tigers) constitute a somewhat deceptive stat–four Royals, all hitting well or beginning to coming into this game, accounted for 10 of their 15 hits.
Whit Merrifield went 3-for-5 and homered; Ryan O’Hearn was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs; Jorge Soler was 2-for-5 and Adalberto Mondesi continued to show increased plate life at 2-for-4 with a double. But Bubba Starling was 0-for-3 and dropped to .200, Nicky Lopez went 0-for-2 before leaving with an injury and is at .125 and Erick Mejia, who took Merrifield’s place in left field when Merrifield replaced Lopez at second, was 0-2 and remains hitless.
Salvador Perez couldn’t muster a hit in five tries; his average dropped to .216. Nick Heath pinch hit for his first big league at-bat and struck out.
As a team, the KC Royals were 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 12 on base. Most maddening of their repeated failures to push runs across in key situations were the two times the Royals loaded the bases without anything to show for the efforts.
The first failure came in the second inning when, with one out, Mondesi doubled Ryan McBroom to third and, after O’Hearn fanned, Starling walked. Lopez grounded out, depriving the Royals of the chance to significantly cut the early 5-0 deficit.
The Royals had another opportunity to get back in the game two innings later when they loaded the bases with one out, but Lopez struck out and Merrifield popped out to end that threat.
And although KC scored three runs in the sixth (two on a single swing, Merrifield’s home run) and single runs in the seventh and ninth, they wasted Soler’s leadoff single in the fifth when Perez flied out, McBroom struck out and Franco lined out, and went down in order in the eighth.
Two Royals were on base when the game ended and one was stranded in each of the third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
It would be easy at first blush to write this loss off to Bolanos’ poor start and, save for Kyle Zimmer’s excellent three innings of relief and Kevin McCarthy’s good 1.2 innings after replacing Bolanos, to a bullpen effort that didn’t quite match this season’s previous body of work. After all, the pen gave up 16 hits, Glenn Sparkman surrendered four runs in just two-thirds of an inning (although two of them were unearned) and Jake Newberry surrendered two in 1.2, but the fact is that the KC Royals remain a team lacking consistent clutch and good situational hitting.
Although Kansas City’s 15-for-41 night against the White Sox raised its team batting average from .227 to .245, 15 hits isn’t the norm and won’t happen every night. The Royals’ offensive issues are clear, the problems consequential. And not a lot has changed in the week since I first wrote about the team’s woes at the plate–any success the Royals can muster in this uniquely short season will require an offense far different than the current edition. Things should get better when Hunter Dozier returns from a positive COVID-19 test, but it will take a universal effort.
The KC Royals have enjoyed some excellent pitching this season. The hitting, however, hasn’t measured up. That needs to change. Quickly.