Royals

Royals open road trip with 6-3 loss to the Padres

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Eric Skoglund (left) tossed the ball before leaving the game during the second inning against the San Diego Padres on Friday in San Diego.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Eric Skoglund (left) tossed the ball before leaving the game during the second inning against the San Diego Padres on Friday in San Diego. The Associated Press

On Friday night at Petco Park, on the first day of a nine-game road trip, the Royals sent out a rookie starter to combat the worst lineup in baseball. They did this because Danny Duffy and Nathan Karns are on the disabled list, and because Travis Wood and Chris Young, once thought to be possible rotation reinforcements, have been wholly ineffective.

So that was the plan, and when it didn't work, when left-hander Eric Skoglund failed to last more than two innings for a second straight start, Royals manager Ned Yost was left to play bullpen Tetris for the final 7 2/3 innings. It was an unenviable task, of course, and it was bound to burn the Royals bullpen for one game and perhaps another. But for much of the night, the relief corps made it fit.

But then the misshaped blocks piled up, and the levels increased. Left-hander Matt Strahm allowed a solo homer during his third inning of work. Young was gouged for three runs in the eighth. The Padres’ late surge represented the difference in a 6-3 loss for the Royals on late Friday night.

“I wasn’t getting ahead,” said Skoglund, who allowed two runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings before departing with the bases loaded. “That’s bread and butter. If you don’t get ahead, you’re gonna get hit.”

Skoglund was making his third career start. His last two have failed to approach the success of his first — 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. As he stood inside the Royals’ clubhouse on late Friday, Skoglund wore a look of sheer disappointment. His performance had set off a chain reaction that forced Young into action in the eighth.

Left-hander Scott Alexander had rescued Skoglund with an escape act in the second and put up 2 2/3 scoreless frames. Strahm followed with two clean innings before allowing a homer to San Diego pinch hitter Matt Szczur in the seventh. Peter Moylan came on and struck out the side in filthy fashion.

That left five pitchers in the bullpen as the Royals trailed 3-2 entering the eighth: Wood, Young, Mike Minor, Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera.

“Joakim Soria has been used three out of four (games),” Yost said afterward. “I didn’t want to use him four out of five unless it was a tie or we had the lead. So (Young) was the available guy.”

The availability did not pay off. Young was knocked around for five hits and three runs, his ERA rising to 6.67. The inning was compounded by a miscommunication on a ball in shallow right field. The Padres built a 6-2 lead before the Royals loaded the bases in the ninth and settled for one run.

It was, in some ways, a frustrating way to open a long West Coast jaunt. Young remained ineffective, delivering the same results he has for most of the last two seasons. The offense went hitless for four innings and then managed just two runs in seven innings off San Diego starter Jhoulys Chacin. The Royals stumbled back to eight games under .500, back toward the line of no-return, where a late-summer sale of expiring assets might be the only suitable way forward.

On early Friday afternoon, the Royals had arrived here, opening a nine-game trip through San Diego, San Francisco and Anaheim. For 10 days, they would face three teams who sat a combined 29 games under .500 as the day began. The soft schedule, even on the road, presented an opportunity for a club still fighting its way back toward the even mark. But with 40 percent of the Royals’ starting rotation still on the disabled list, the trip would begin with a rookie on the mound. At just past 4 p.m., Skoglund strolled by Yost’s clubhouse office and offered a quick greeting:

“What’s up, Skip?”

Three hours later, his third career start would be nearly as brief. Facing a Padres team that ranked last in baseball in runs scored, he faced 11 batters and yielded seven hits. He allowed two runs and recorded just four outs before exiting with the bases loaded in the second.

“It was mostly pitch location,” Yost said. “We didn’t establish in enough early, and they were kind of diving out (over the plate) on him."

Two starts after allowing just two hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his major-league debut, Skoglund has lasted a combined 3 1/3 innings in two follow-up outings. This time, the final line could have been more cataclysmic. As the Padres threatened to blow the game open in the second, Alexander and catcher Salvador Perez maneuvered out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam. Perez picked off a careless Chacin, who had ventured too far off third base on a ball in the dirt. Alexander struck out former Royals prospect Wil Myers on a 1-2 sinker.

The Royals staved off an early knockout and would tie the game at 2-2 in the fifth, when Perez crushed a 395-foot homer to left-center. The two-run shot was his 94th career homer as a catcher, eclipsing the franchise record held by Mike Macfarlane.

“That’s pretty good for me,” Perez said.

That was about the extent of Perez’s enthusiasm. The Royals lost to the Padres. The starting rotation’s question marks remain. Ian Kennedy will start on Saturday afternoon. Another rookie, right-hander Jakob Junis, will start on Sunday.

For a team in a hole, a club that once had thoughts of another playoff run, the outlook is less than ideal.

“I was middle (with my location),” Skoglund said, standing inside the visitors clubhouse. “It was just middle, and they were able to barrel the balls up. That was about it.”

Padres 6, Royals 3

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.281

Bonifacio rf

4

0

0

0

0

2

.262

Cain cf

4

1

1

0

0

2

.261

Hosmer 1b

3

1

2

0

1

0

.309

Perez c

4

1

2

2

0

0

.273

Moustakas 3b

3

0

1

1

0

0

.272

Escobar ss

4

0

0

0

0

1

.178

Gordon lf

2

0

0

0

1

0

.172

Skoglund p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Alexander p

1

0

0

0

0

1

.000

a-Moss ph

1

0

0

0

0

1

.182

Strahm p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Moylan p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

c-Cuthbert ph

1

0

1

0

0

0

.213

Young p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Totals 31

3

7

3

2

8

San Diego

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Pirela lf

2

0

1

0

2

1

.462

Hand p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

d-Cordero ph-cf

1

1

1

2

0

0

.343

Solarte 2b

2

0

1

1

2

0

.251

Myers 1b

4

1

1

0

1

3

.261

Renfroe rf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.237

Hedges c

4

0

1

1

0

3

.212

Cordoba cf-lf

4

0

1

0

0

2

.280

Spangenberg 3b

4

0

2

0

0

2

.248

Aybar ss

4

2

2

0

0

1

.206

Chacin p

1

0

1

1

0

0

.333

b-Szczur ph-cf

2

2

2

1

0

0

.215

Buchter p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Maurer p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Totals 32

6

14

6

5

13

Kansas City

000

020

001

3

7

0

San Diego

110

000

13x

6

14

0

a-struck out for Alexander in the 5th. b-homered for Chacin in the 7th. c-singled for Moylan in the 8th. d-doubled for Hand in the 8th.

LOB—Kansas City 4, San Diego 9. 2B—Aybar (7), Chacin (1), Szczur (4), Cordero (2). HR—Perez (12), off Chacin; Szczur (2), off Strahm. RBIs—Perez 2 (34), Moustakas (34), Solarte (30), Hedges (31), Chacin (3), Szczur (9), Cordero 2 (4). CS—Cordoba (2), Spangenberg (1). SF—Moustakas. S—Chacin.

Runners left in scoring position—San Diego 5 (Pirela, Myers, Hedges 2, Cordoba). RISP—Kansas City 1 for 2; San Diego 4 for 12.

Runners moved up—Renfroe. GIDP—Perez, Escobar, Solarte, Renfroe.

DP—Kansas City 2 (Escobar, Merrifield, Hosmer), (Moustakas, Merrifield, Hosmer); San Diego 2 (Aybar, Solarte, Myers), (Spangenberg, Solarte, Myers).

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Skoglund

1 1/3

7

2

2

2

1

32

5.59

Alexander

2 2/3

1

0

0

0

4

28

1.53

Strahm, L, 1-3

2

1

1

1

3

3

49

4.50

Moylan

1

0

0

0

0

3

10

7.17

Young

1

5

3

3

0

2

27

6.67

San Diego

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Chacin, W, 5-5

7

3

2

2

2

6

101

5.35

Hand, H, 8

1

1

0

0

0

2

15

2.12

Buchter

0

2

1

1

0

0

12

3.42

Maurer, S, 10-12

1

1

0

0

0

0

8

6.48

Strahm pitched to 3 batters in the 7th.

Buchter pitched to 2 batters in the 9th.

Inherited runners-scored—Alexander 3-0, Moylan 2-0, Maurer 2-1. HBP—Strahm (Solarte).

Umpires—Home, Dana DeMuth; First, Chris Guccione; Second, Carlos Torres; Third, Paul Nauert.

T—2:51. A—23,055 (42,302).

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