KC Royals: Club fails to get good September start

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Any notion that the KC Royals would successfully launch September was quickly dashed in Chicago Thursday afternoon.

The White Sox, in third place in the American League Central but still clinging to hopes of sneaking into the playoffs, handled the Royals easily at Guaranteed Rate Field, knocking KC starter Daniel Mengden out before the third inning ended and coasting to a 7-1 win.

The Royals could have won the clubs’ three-game series with a victory Thursday, but instead started the final full month of this disappointing season with their 79th loss.

Losing this defeat among the 78 others will be easy. It bore a striking resemblance to so many of those that preceded it.

As the score suggests, the KC Royals did little well Thursday afternoon.

Unfortunately, Kansas City received another in a long line of subpar starts. Mengden, added to the roster before the game as a September roster expansion callup, threw two good innings but didn’t see the fourth.

Instead, he was in trouble early in the third after giving up a leadoff single to Leury García, who advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch and scored on a one-out hit by Elvis Andrus. Andrew Vaughn then hit his 15th homer to give the Sox a 3-1 lead and, after José Abreu doubled and Mengden walked Gavin Sheets, KC manager Mike Matheny pulled him for Collin Snider, who retired Yasmani Grandal—the only batter he’d face—to end the inning.

Although those three third frame runs proved to be all Chicago needed, the KC bullpen helped put the game out of reach with another rocky performance. Brad Keller relieved for the fifth time since Matheny relegated him to the pen two weeks ago and sailed through the fourth and fifth innings before struggling in the sixth. He walked Sheets, got Grandal to fly out, then surrendered a single to AJ Pollock and an RBI hit to García. José Cuas replaced Keller and gave up a run-scoring single to Romy González before fanning Andrus and Vaughn to escape the inning.

Keller left with a 5.26 ERA and has given up eight runs, 12 hits and four walks in six innings since becoming a reliever.

Anthony Misiewicz struck out six in his two innings but the Sox also tagged him for a pair of runs on Pollock’s homer in the eighth.

The Royals, or at least most of them, also didn’t come through at the plate—Michael Massey had three hits and Drew Waters two, but the club left 11 runners on base and were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

So it was that the Royals lost just as they have so many times in 2022—the pitching and hitting both didn’t measure up.

Kansas City won’t see the White Sox until the second week of next May. The Royals won the season series 10-9.

The KC Royals now meet Detroit in a head-to-head battle to avoid last place.

Now 26 games below .500 at 53-79 and needing a 10-20 finish to avoid 100 losses, Kansas City headed to Detroit after Thursday’s game for three weekend games against the Tigers.

The series, which starts tonight, continues Saturday evening, and concludes Sunday afternoon, is the first of three meetings the clubs have left. They’ll face off Sept. 9-11 at Kauffman Stadium, then return to Detroit Sept. 27-29.

Probably hanging in the balance in those nine games is fourth place in the AL Central. At 50-81, the last place Tigers trail the Royals by only 2.5 games.

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Tonight’s first pitch at Detroit’s Comerica Park is set for 6:10 p.m. CDT.