The KC Royals couldn’t end their losing streak Tuesday…even against Detroit.
On the surface, so much of what happened in Detroit Tuesday night tells you the KC Royals snapped their ugly eight-game losing streak and re-achieved a .500 record.
Jorge Soler, who hadn’t hit a lick lately, or a home run in almost three weeks, blasted one out of Comerica Park in the eighth inning to score three, then just missed another homer in the ninth and settled for a two-run double. He alone drove in six runs against the Tigers.
Beleaguered Nicky Lopez had played 16 games without a multi-hit performance and watched his batting average plummet over 100 points since April 20, but slapped two singles, walked once, and scored a run.
Carlos Santana entered the evening homerless in nine games; he didn’t break that streak, but instead accomplished the other task he’s primarily paid to do by reaching base three out of four times and scoring a run.
Andrew Benintendi’s quest to prove his early season slump was just that, and nothing worse, continued. His 2-for-3 night raised his average to .275 and his OBP to .346. He’s hitting .372 since going 0-for-3 21 days ago, shooting his average up almost 100 points over that span.
And the KC Royals, who recorded just 17 runs in the winless seven-game homestand they finished Sunday, scored seven times in the last two innings and finished with 10 hits. They hadn’t scored that many runs since plating 11 against the Twins May 1, or had that many hits since banging out 10 against Cleveland eight days ago.
But despite all the good, Kansas City still lost its ninth straight game, a defeat at the hands of the worst team in baseball. The Tigers, now 11-24, shrugged off the Royals’ furious late rally and won 8-7.
Pitching was the main reason the Royals lost again. Brady Singer started well but, after appearing to have the Tigers under control with three scoreless innings, gave them just about everything they tried to take in the fourth. Jonathan Schoop, just 1-for-11 against KC pitching this season before the frame started, led off with a triple. Niko Goodrum walked. Willi Castro singled Schoop home. Bottom of the order hitters Akil Baddoo and Grayson Greiner followed with RBI singles of their own, and Robbie Grossman’s sacrifice fly made it 4-0.
Harold Castro’s single didn’t score anyone, but forced Singer out of the game. On for Singer, Tyler Zuber escaped the inning unscathed. But his time came minutes later when he loaded the bases in the sixth for Jake Brentz, and Grossman’s first triple of the season made it 7-0.
It stayed that way until the KC Royals, riding Soler’s six late-game RBIs, tied the game in the ninth. But another pitching mistake, this time from Scott Barlow, led to the winning run—Barlow’s second pitch hit Goodrum in the foot, Goodrum stole second off rookie catcher Sebastian Rivero (with the contest seemingly out of reach, he’d spelled Salvador Perez in the seventh), and Grossman dispatched a 95 mph Barlow fastball into right field to score Goodrum and walk the Royals off.
So it was that Kansas City’s bats, so ineffective for most of the recent ill-fated homestand, were good enough to win most games Tuesday, especially against Detroit. But the pitching failed.
Now, the task of ending this nine-game losing streak is Danny Duffy’s. Kansas City’s best pitcher (4-2, 1.26) takes on Detroit’s Casey Mize (1-3, 4.41), in the second game of the clubs’ three-game set tonight. Duffy struck out eight and didn’t give up a run or a walk in five innings to beat the Tigers April 25; the Royals battered Mize for six runs in 4.2 innings two days before to begin their four-game sweep of Detroit.
After Tuesday’s wrenching loss, Wednesday’s will be a contest Kansas City needs to win.
The third-place Royals are now 16-18 and trail first place Chicago by 4.5 games. First pitch tonight is set for 6:10 p.m. CDT.