Royals lose to the White Sox on another walk-off homer
The Kansas City Royals wrapped up their road trip having lost three of their last four games -- and all of those losses came in walk-off fashion.
Rookie relief pitcher Tyler Zuber gave up a one-out, three-run home run to Chicago White Sox Rookie of the Year candidate Luis Robert in the bottom of the 10th inning. With that one swing, the Royals lost the game 5-2 as well as the weekend series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
They remain winless in their last nine road series, dating back to last season. Their fourth walk-off road loss tied the Toronto Blue Jays for the most walk-off defeats this season.
The Royals (13-21) host the Cleveland Indians Monday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Indians (21-13) will enter the series tied with the White Sox (21-13) for the American League Central Division lead.
"They're playing hard," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "They're playing hard and it's fairly clean baseball. ... To me, to be able to watch Kris Bubic take his game to another level -- that was, to me, his best. Not the fact that he went longer. He just was more efficient in the zone. He was using the bottom of the zone, which made his changeup better. I thought he had better fastball command. And I know there's even another level, and he does too."
The Royals did not score in the top of the 10th. Adalberto Mondesi started the inning on second base, per the new MLB extra inning rules. Mondesi got caught stealing third for the first out of the inning.
With a runner on, Meibrys Viloria struck out on three pitches for the second out. Then, with two men on, Hunter Dozier struck out swinging.
The White Sox started the bottom of the inning with former Royal and recent trade acquisition Jarrod Dyson on second base as a pinch runner. After an intentional walk to Jose Abreu, Zuber struck out James McCann swinging for the first out.
However, Robert got enough of a first-pitch slider for it to clear the left-field wall for a three-run homer.
"You're talking about a guy that's coming on to be a really good hitter, he got just enough of it" Matheny said. "(Zuber) was pounding the strike zone and making quality pitches."
Whit Merrifield drove in both runs for the Royals, and he blasted his seventh home run of the season in the eighth inning to tie the score.
The Royals pushed across two runs after White Sox starting pitcher Dane Dunning, a former college teammate of Royals rookie Brady Singer, held the Royals hitless for five innings.
Dunning, a right-hander who made just his second MLB-start, allowed just one of the 16 batters he faced to reach base. That came on a Maikel Franco second-inning walk. Dunning struck out seven.
The Royals scored their first run in the sixth, after Dunning left the game. Cam Gallagher doubled and scored on Merrifield's RBI single. Their next run came on Merrifield's homer in the eighth.
"Obviously, we feel like we're a better team than we were last year," Merrifield said. "We've got some guys taking steps forward. Really happy with the way our staff has been throwing the ball. We've just got to do a better job finding ways to win. That's what we've got to do to take that next step forward, figure out how to win games like this. Hopefully, this will be a learning experience."
Royals rookie pitcher Kris Bubic struck out a career-high eight in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander allowed two runs on six hits and two walks.
"It was definitely a step up from the last few outings," Bubic said. "Pitch count obviously is still elevating a bit higher than I would like. Really from the first pitch I tried to establish my fastball as best as I can and not try to do too much too early."
The White Sox entered the day having gone 9-0 against left-handed starting pitchers this season. They'd posted a slash line of .312/.384/.619 when facing left-handed starters.
Bubic's MLB debut earlier this summer came against the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. In that first start, Bubic allowed three runs on three hits (one home run) and a walk in four innings.
The White Sox scored a run in the third on three hits and put runners on second and third with one out, but the hardest-hit ball of the inning actually came on a groundout.
With a run in and two in scoring position, Bubic got Robert to pop up on the infield, and he struck out Danny Mendick swinging.
"The biggest thing I take away is both innings they scored, the second and the third, was just me not getting ahead and putting myself in spots," Bubic said. "Sure, maybe it's weak contact, but they get just enough of it to get it over the infield or past the infield or down the line whatever it is.
"I can avoid being behind in the count. I mean, I can live with soft contact all day — even chilling at 90, 91 for the most part today and throwing a lot of changeups — but I could make my life a lot easier if I was ahead in that situation."
The Mendick strikeout started a stretch for Bubic that included four strikeouts in a five batters. He didn't record a strikeout in the fifth, but tossed his first 1-2-3 inning.
Royals relief pitchers Jake Newberry (2/3 innings), Josh Staumont (one inning), Kyle Zimmer (one inning) and Greg Holland (one inning) held the White Sox scoreless to get the game into extra innings.