Latest KC Royals disaster triggered by familiar source

Jordan Lyles didn't give Kansas City a chance against Seattle.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The KC Royals lost their 90th game Saturday afternoon. The 15-2 beatdown defeat, probably their worst loss of the season with only the 14-1 thumping Cleveland put on them in June closely rivaling it, obviously had bad pitching at its core.

And at the core of that core was Jordan Lyles, the starter who, despite the red flags of his then-career 5.10 ERA and 66-90 record, the Royals gave $17 million in December to join them for this season and next.

Lyles carried the heavy baggage of 14 losses, the majors' most, into Saturday's matinee with the Mariners and not surprisingly padded his lead with another one after giving the M's seven runs in only three innings. Four Kansas City relievers collectively surrounded one more run than he, but it was Lyles who killed any chance the Royals had to make a run at their hosts.

Jordan Lyles' ugly inning took the KC Royals out of Saturday's contest

Little Lyles did in the first two innings foretold what happened in the third — yes, he created a two-out threat in the first by walking Eugenio Suárez and allowing Cal Raleigh a single, but he struck out Teoscar Hernández to end the frame and fanned two more in retiring Seattle in order in the second.

Lyles cratered, however, in the third, an inning during which three of 10 Mariners he faced homered, two collected less damaging hits, and two more walked; by the time he struck out Josh Rojas to bring merciful ends to the inning and his latest disturbing pitching stint, Lyles had done much to saddle his teammates with an ultimately insurmountable 7-0 deficit.

So it was that the eight runs and four additional homers Jackson Kowar, Ángel Zerpa, Tucker Davidson, and Matt Duffy, the utility man manager Matt Quatraro sent to the mound in the eighth to make sure Seattle didn't shed any more of his regular pitchers' blood, were unsightly but simply didn't matter. (That the seven homers their five pitchers surrendered established a new Royals single-game record just makes the pain of another embarrassing loss a bit worse).

Lyles' pitching made this one the kind of contest the struggling Royals — they've lost 15 of 20 games following a season-best seven-game winning streak — simply weren't going to win, especially considering the competition. The Mariners' triumph marked the 17th time they've won in the last 23 games and enabled them to stay in their first-place tie with Texas in the American League West after the Rangers beat AL Central-leading Minnesota Saturday night.

With the loss, Lyles is 3-15 with a 6.51 ERA that, like those 15 losses, is the worst in the majors this season. Unfortunately, his 15th defeat makes it even more possible that Lyles could break the Royals' record for most in a season by one pitcher.

And strengthens the case for the club to unload or swallow his contract before next season.

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