It seems the overuse of the KC Royals bullpen earlier in the season has led to their struggles of late. They blew yet another lead on Friday night, as they lost to the visiting LA Angels, 9-7.
Royals starter Bruce Chen had one BAD inning, a four-run fourth. In that inning, he gave up three hits, walked a batter, and hit a batter.
However, his offense bailed him out. In the bottom of the 6th inning, they scored three runs to retake the lead. A leadoff walk to Alex Gordon chased Angels starter CJ Wilson from the game. After an Angels fielding error put Billy Butler on base, Salvador Perez flied out (moving Gordon to third base). A Mike Moustakas sac fly tied the game at 4-4. Jeff Francoeur followed with a two-run homerun on a 1-2 pitch to give the Royals the lead.
Chen went back out for the 7th inning and allowed back-to-back singles with one out. That chased him from the game and Ned Yost brought in Louis Coleman. He immediately gave up one of Chen‘s runs on an RBI double by Erick Aybar. After intentionally walking Albert Pujols to load the bases, Coleman rebounded with two strikeouts to escape.
Jason Bourgeois (who was called up on Friday from Triple-A) singled with one out in the bottom of the 7th inning, stole second base, and scored on Alcides Escobar‘s RBI single.
So the Royals held a 7-5 lead heading into the 8th inning. That is when things continued to fall apart for the bullpen. Aaron Crow entered and recorded two outs around a single. With Kendrys Morales pinch-hitting, the Royals brought in lefty Tim Collins. Morales homered on the very first pitch to tie the game at 7-7.
Then Mike Trout singled (who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Chen) and Aybar singled. After hitting Pujols to load the bases, Jeremy Jeffress was the next reliever to enter the game.
Jeffress walked the first batter he faced, Torii Hunter, on five pitches to force in a run to give the Angels the lead. The Angels tacked on an insurance run in the ninth.
The Royals had their chances in both the 8th and 9th innings. In the eighth with a runner on second base and two outs, Eric Hosmer flied out to center against lefty reliever Scott Downs to end the inning. In the ninth, David Lough pinch-hit with one out, walked, took second base, and went to third on a wild pitch. However Gordon could not continue the rally, though it took nine pitches for Angels closer Ernesto Frieri to retire him and end the game.
In the loss, the Royals hit three homeruns, though two were solo shots in the 2nd inning.
*It was Futures Night at Kauffman Stadium, as the Royals honored their minor league players of the year. The only players not on hand were the Pitcher (Jake Odorizzi) and Player of the Year (Wil Myers) with Triple-A Omaha (they are still playing in the Pacific Coast League Championship). Also not on hand was Michael Mariot, as he is also pitching for Omaha (though he was the Double-A Pitcher of the Year). For more check out Around the Horn in KC and kcroyals.com.
**For more on the Angels, check out Light Up the Halo.