Will latest KC Royals victory prove costly?

Michael Massey left Friday night's game early.
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The KC Royals, suddenly accustomed to winning big and winning often, added another victory to their 2024 resume Friday evening. The easy and convincing 8-1 spanking they gave Tampa Bay Friday evening extended their latest winning streak to seven games, drew them within a game of the Guardians, who at this writing were playing a late West Coast game against the Angels, and gave them their 33rd win of the season, a milestone they didn't achieve last year until Aug. 1.

But as sweet as it was, this triumph at Tropicana Field may have come at a price.

Hot-hitting Michael Massey, felled in spring training by a lower back strain that kept him out of action until April 19, left the game before the sixth inning started, just a frame after he smashed a three-run homer that gave the Royals a 5-1 lead. He finished the night 2-for-3, is 15-for-36 (.416) with three homers and 10 RBIs in his last 10 games, and raised his season average to .294.

The Royals' in-game report identified the issue as lower back tightness, a characterization KC manager Matt Quatraro echoed in post-game remarks; considering the battle Massey previously waged with his lower back, the club and its fans will anxiously await further word. As well as he's been hitting and fielding (his 2 OAA mark is the seventh-best in the majors and fourth-best in the American League), losing Massey to the Injured List would be a hit the Royals don't want to take.

If he's forced to the IL, expect Adam Frazier to get more time at second and Nick Loftin, who's slashing .311/.415/.533 at Triple-A Omaha, to get a call-up.

Other than Massey's unfortunate departure, things were pretty rosy for Kansas City Friday night...

KC Royals starter Seth Lugo dominated an opponent again

Lugo started the night leading the AL in wins (seven) and ERA (1.79), numbers that he'd improved by the time his seven-inning stint ended. After giving the Rays a run and a hit in the first, he held them scoreless and to just three hits the rest of the way; his ninth quality start in 11 tries bumped him to 8-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.74.

Carlos Hernández had a clean return from the Injured List

After Sam Long, who relieved Lugo in the eighth, pitched his second scoreless inning since getting called up from Omaha Monday, Hernández closed out the Rays by retiring them in order in the ninth. It was his first big league appearance of the season after right shoulder soreness sidelined him late in spring training.

Other notable Kansas City performances

Bobby Witt Jr. led off the Royal seventh with his eighth home run of the season, a solo shot that gave the club its next-to-last run. Freddy Fermin, catching while Salvador Perez took another turn at first base, doubled in the final Kansas City run four batters later and is now hitting .305.

Garrett Hampson went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Still mired in his season-long slump, Hunter Renfroe doubled and drove in a run.

Kansas City plays the second contest of this three-game series Saturday afternoon. Brady Singer will face Tampa's Aaron Civale; first pitch is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. CDT.

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