The KC Royals took the failing show that is their struggling offense on the road Friday night.
Predictably, and sadly, the result was the same. The Royals, averaging just under three runs per game coming into their first trip west of the season, managed just one against Seattle and lost 4-1.
The defeat, Kansas City’s second in a row after a three-game winning streak evened their record at 5-5, are now 5-7.
And thanks to another poor offensive effort, the club dropped into a last-place tie with Detroit in the American League Central.
From the beginning, the offense was a picture of futility for the KC Royals.
The signs of another unsightly evening at the plate came early and didn’t fade in this one. Andrew Benintendi, so far the best and most reliable Kansas City hitter—he’s batting .372—singled with two outs in the first but Salvador Perez struck out. Hunter Dozier, his bat showing life after a subpar 2021, doubled with one out in the second only to have Bobby Witt Jr.’s lineout and Adalberto Mondesi’s flyout strand him there. Witt is now hitting .159, Mondesi .150.
Michael A. Taylor singled to lead off the third, but Nicky Lopez hit into a double play and Merrifield, whose 0-for-4 night left him at .125, grounded out.
The Royals went down in order in the fourth; making the final out was Carlos Santana, who maintained the majors league’s worst average among qualified hitters—an 0-for-3 night dropped him to .063.
KC had runners at first and second with only one out an inning later but couldn’t score. Salvador Perez then clubbed a solo home run in the sixth.
The Royals went in order in the seventh. Lopez singled with one out in the eighth, but Merrifield grounded into a double play to take him off the bases and Kansas City out of the inning.
Benintendi singled to begin the ninth but another double play grounder, this time off Perez’s bat, ended that minor threat, and the walk Santana immediately drew went for naught when Dozier struck out swinging on a full count to end the game.
The Royals left seven on base and went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The bullpen remained locked in, but it wasn’t enough for the KC Royals.
The Kansas City highlight on this night was, as it has been so often lately, the bullpen. But its effort didn’t matter.
Brad Keller, arguably the club’s best starter coming into the game, pitched well for three innings but committed a fatal error—the Royals’ first miscue of the season—in the fourth. After allowing one-out singles to Eugenio Suárez and J.P. Crawford, Keller misplayed Abraham Toro’s slap back to the mound to load the bases for Julio Rodríguez, who promptly doubled in the game’s first two runs. Jarred Kelenic followed with a triple to give the M’s their last two runs, but the inning’s four were all they’d need.
Keller came out for the fifth and lasted until he put two runners on with two out. That’s when Matheny gave the game to the bullpen.
And it came through. Gabe Speier replaced Keller and retired Toro to end the inning, then retired Seattle in order in the sixth and the first Mariner in the seventh before Matheny allowed Brady Singer, who’d pitched just once this season after losing his spot in the rotation before the campaign even started, into the game. Singer got Ty France and Jesse Winker to end the inning, but not without a scare—France’s liner struck Singer just above his left wrist, leading to a short delay. Singer’s status wasn’t known at this writing (early Saturday morning).
Joel Payamps pitched the eighth and extended the pen’s scoreless streak to 24.2 innings.
The search for an improved offense continues tonight for the KC Royals.
In the end, assign most of the blame for Friday night’s loss to the offense. It didn’t get any better. It may be time for Kansas City to order up a new load of bats and burn the ones they’ve been using.
Or for manager Mike Matheny, a skipper who curiously sticks with underperforming lineups, to shake his up more tonight than he did when he moved Lopez to leadoff and dropped Merrifield to second and Witt to seventh two games ago.
The Royals and Mariners play the second of this three-game series at 8:10 p.m. CDT tonight. Scheduled to start are KC’s Kris Bubic (0-1) and Seattle’s Matt Brash (1-1).