KC Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino homered in the first inning against Cleveland at Progressive Field Wednesday afternoon. Few across baseball likely knew of the blast’s importance to Pasquantino.
It was his 10th homer of the year, a meaningful achievement for the increasingly popular rookie who played only 72 times this season but long ago punched his ticket to Kansas City’s 2023 roster.
Pasquantino added a single to complete a 2-for-4 performance that gave him a final .295/.383/.450 line for 2022. But his day and Kyle Isbel’s fifth home run, like Pasquantino’s a solo shot off Cleveland starter Aaron Civale, were the only real positives the Royals can take away from their season-ending 9-2 loss to the Guardians, who now advance to the playoffs Kansas City will miss for the seventh straight year.
In a way, this defeat fittingly ended a 97-loss campaign lacking even one winning month. A victory Wednesday would have given the Royals a 3-2 October record, but they just couldn’t pull it off, and the loss glaringly resembled so many of their others.
The KC Royals didn’t hit or pitch well in Wednesday’s lopsided loss.
Disappointed are any fans who hoped to see a new story from Kansas City Wednesday. The Royals provided the same old tale, one marked once again with deficient hitting and pitching.
The latter shortcoming hurt the most.
Starter Jonathan Heasley, gunning for his fifth win and trying to avoid his 10th loss, put the game the Royals’ reach in the first inning. How fragile a lead Pasquantino’s home run staked them to in the top half of the frame became obvious when, with two outs, Heasley gave up a two-run double to Josh Naylor and run-scoring singles to Will Brennan and Luke Maile.
Those four runs proved to be twice what the Guardians needed. But they nicked Heasley for single runs in the second and third, later scored two against Carlos Hernández to push his final ERA to 7.39, and scored one off Luke Weaver. Cleveland scorched the three KC hurlers for 15 hits.
Aside from the two runs Pasquantino and Isbel accounted for, the offense was just as disappointing. The other Royals produced only three hits, all singles, a glaring shortcoming not entirely attributable to the absence of Salvador Perez, who missed his fourth straight game after experiencing thumb soreness over the weekend.
Ultimately, this loss, characterized by poor pitching and weak hitting, mirrored so many, many others Kansas City suffered this year.
And left the Royals to ponder yet another lost season.
The Royals begin the 2023 season March 30 when they host Minnesota.