KC Royals: Surprise meltdown ruins night in Seattle

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals, plagued by a weak, nonproductive offense all season, entered Saturday night’s game against Seattle with a new lineup offering little promise of breaking out.

And promptly lost by six runs.

But don’t blame the 13-7 loss, a third straight defeat that handed Seattle the series win, on the bats. Instead, the unlikeliest of culprits sank the Royals.

The bullpen collapsed. The seemingly unbreakable relief corps, riding a streak of 24.2 scoreless innings when the game began, blew this one and ruined one of the club’s better nights at the plate.

An offensive outburst preceded the meltdown that doomed the KC Royals.

Kansas City opened with a curious new lineup suggesting nothing more than a continuation of the club’s offensive ineptitude—together with his .125 average, Whit Merrifield moved to center field; Hunter Dozier, looking quite comfortable so far in the DH spot, nevertheless replaced Merrifield in right; Carlos Santana, possessed of the worst official batting average in the majors, stayed in the lineup; and Ryan O’Hearn, who really hasn’t hit since 2018 and entered the contest searching for his first hit of the season, took a turn at DH.

And for the first four innings, manager Mike Matheny’s latest creation looked like the folly it appeared to be before the game even began. Yes, the Royals scored a run in the first inning, but Seattle starter Matt Brash held them scoreless until trouble found him with one out in the fifth and his club leading 5-1.

Andrew Benintendi and Salvador Perez singled and Santana walked to load the bases and end Brash’s night. Dozier greeted reliever Matthew Festa with a single to short which, combined with two throwing errors on the play, scored Benintendi and Perez to make it 5-3. Bobby Witt Jr.’s RBI single narrowed the gap to one.

But the bats weren’t done. With Kansas City down 6-4 in the seventh (the M’s scored a sixth-inning run, but more on that later), and after Yohan Ramirez hit Perez on the left hand (Perez left the contest following the inning), Santana tied the game with his first home run of the season. Dozier followed with a double and scored when Edward Olivares, understandably pinch hitting for the still hitless O’Hearn, doubled him home to give the Royals a 7-6. The seven runs equaled their highest output of the year.

Then came the meltdown.

The usually reliable bullpen lost control of the game for the KC Royals.

Kansas City’s relievers saved their worst for the eighth inning, but the first sign of trouble came in the sixth after the Royals had almost overcome the five runs starter Kris Bubic handed Seattle before leaving in the third.

Rookie Collin Snider, nearly untouchable before Saturday—2-0 coming into the game, he hadn’t surrendered a run and had scattered only three hits in six appearances—gave up a single and a walk (only his second of the season) before Eugenio Suárez doubled to give the Mariners a 6-4 lead.

Then, Seattle spoiled the lead the Royals took with their three-run seventh by nicking Josh Staumont for two hits and the tying run in the bottom half of the frame.

The real damage, though, came in the eighth. Jake Brentz, no stranger to control trouble during his seven-year minor league career, in his rookie campaign last year (5.2 BB9) or this season (five walks in four innings before Saturday), walked four straight to start the inning and hand the lead back to the Mariners, then served up a two-run double to Jesse Winker that widened their lead to three.

That brought Dylan Coleman, who like Snider hadn’t been scored upon this season, into the game. He immediately retired Adam Frazier for the second out, but Ty France tagged him for a three-run homer to make it 13-7.

Assign most of the blame for this defeat, then, to Saturday night’s surprisingly poor bullpen effort.

The initial news about Salvador Perez was positive for him and the Royals.

The precise extent of Perez’s possible injury wasn’t known as of this writing (early Sunday morning), although x-rays were negative.

Given Perez’s famous will to play and resiliency, and barring a prohibitive injury, don’t be shocked to see him in the lineup today. The better bet, however, is that Matheny will make sure he takes the day off.

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Kansas City and Seattle conclude their three-game series this afternoon at 3:10 p.m. CDT.