In a once simply bad season now turned ghastly, things only got worse for the KC Royals Wednesday.
First, even before the Royals took the field for the final game of their three-contest series with Cincinnati, came startling news about Vinnie Pasquantino. His season is almost certainly over—the big first baseman-designated hitter, a club pillar and leader since his call-up late last June, has a torn labrum that will require corrective surgery. Although he's struggled at times this year, his nine home runs for the club trail only Salvador Perez's 14 and Bobby Witt Jr.'s 11.
Then came the game with the Reds, a contest the Royals and their fans hoped would mark the beginning of something better than the eight-game losing streak the team carried into the game, and the awful 9-16 record they'd posted in the 25 games preceding KC starter Daniel Lynch's first Wednesday pitch.
But the outcome, and so many of the things that happened during the game, increased the pain of an already hurtful day.
The KC Royals, the majors' worst club, suffered another defeat Wednesday
The Royals lost 7-4 to, despite Oakland's loss to Tampa Bay, retain by percentage points their status as the big leagues' worst team. But the contest was, strangely enough, one some of the numbers suggest they could, and perhaps should, have won.
Consider this pair of oddities. The Royals more than doubled the number of hits Cincinnati had, banging out 15 to the Reds' seven. And KC played flawless defense for a change while Cincinnati made four errors.
What made the difference, though, were two other things that didn't go Kansas City's way. While the Royals more than doubled Cincinnati's hits, four of the Reds' were home runs, all of which Lynch surrendered, including three in the visitors' five-run fifth inning. Those homers, in fact, accounted for all but one of Cincinnati's runs.
And the Royals, as has become their unfortunate and dumbfounding custom, failed miserably with runners on base, and especially with them in scoring position—they left 14 on and went 2-for-15 (.133) with RISP. Unless their pitchers spin shutouts, which these Royals just don't do, no teams win with those kinds of critical situation stats.
So it is opponents posted their third straight series sweep against Kansas City, a team on pace to lose a smidgen over 119 games, an ugly total that if achieved would shatter the club record 106 set in 2005.
And to add injury to insult, team captain Salvador Perez, recently mentioned in trade talk but definitely a player the club shouldn't move, left the game in the third after a pitch from former teammate and Reds starter Ben Lively struck his mitt hand. Fortunately, and per the Royals, it appears Perez wasn't seriously injured:
Kansas City is off Thursday, so Perez will get an extra day to recover before the club opens a three-game weekend series with the Angels, Shohei Ohtani, and Mike Trout Friday evening at Kauffman Stadium.
Despite the loss, the KC Royals did some encouraging things Wednesday
Leading the way to those 15 Kansas City hits was left fielder Edward Olivares, who singled four times in five at-bats and, playing in just his third big league game, center fielder Dairon Blanco, who collected his first major league double, triple and RBI in his five trips to the plate.
Bobby Witt Jr. had three hits and is batting .319 in June after beginning the month at .228. Maikel Garcia and MJ Melendez had two hits apiece.
And while Lynch was charged with all seven Cincinnati runs, Nick Wittgren worked a scoreless eighth inning and struck out two before José Cuas struck out the side in the ninth.