The inning was over, the home run had fallen and Jeremy Guthrie’s discontent had yet to subside. For his final act on Thursday, as he wore a 7-3 loss for the Royals to Toronto, Guthrie chose a unique outlet for his frustration.
After snaring a line drive to end the sixth, he fired the ball into the third deck of Kauffman Stadium. The baseball rattled against the empty seats.
“My first thought was to try to throw it out of the stadium,” Guthrie said. “So I did throw some discretion from my initial thought.”
The gesture was both humorous and necessary, but it was also futile. Guthrie had yielded a solo shot to Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus two batters earlier. He gave up eight hits, two of them homers, and Rasmus’ drive proved decisive.
The Royals (14-13) emerged from this three-game set with their second consecutive series victory, but lost out on a chance for a sweep. Toronto starter Mark Buehrle prevented his hosts from reaching their magical number of four runs.
Instead, the team watched rookie reliever Michael Mariot flop in the eighth inning. It was his second inning of work, with manager Ned Yost looking to protect his bullpen heading into a series against Detroit this weekend. The strategy backfired. “Their top of the eighth really knocked the wind out of us,” said Billy Butler, who drove in two runs with a single and a double.
Mariot allowed the first four batters to reach. Yost finally pulled him after he issued a bases-loaded walk. Called in to clean up the disaster, right-hander Louis Coleman promptly watched a two-run double scream into right. Yost did not regret inserting Coleman at that juncture.
Still, he felt constrained in his bullpen usage. Both Aaron Crow and Kelvin Herrera had pitched on back-to-back days. Wade Davis threw on Wednesday, and Yost does not like using him in consecutive games. Danny Duffy was being held out so he can start on Saturday.
“That left us with Coleman and Mariot,” Yost said.
It was an unfortunate ending to a game that looked promising at the start. The Royals’ offense showed signs of life before succumbing to Buehrle’s command and movement.
“He frustrates you,” Butler said. “He feeds off your over-aggressiveness.”
The teams traded runs in the game’s first half. Guthrie surrendered a one-out single to former teammate Chris Getz. From there, the Blue Jays ignited their running game. Getz stole second base. After a walk to Jose Bautista, they executed a double steal. Getz scored on a groundout soon after.
After an unearned run in the second, the Royals sparked a rally in the third, only to see it snuffed out on the bases. Omar Infante led off with a walk. Eric Hosmer blistered a double into the right field corner. When Butler ripped a single through the left side of the infield, they had the lead.
But they wanted more. Third-base coach Dale Sveum signaled for Hosmer to round third. Rookie outfielder Anthony Gose threw him out at the plate. Yost indicated Sveum did not have a full scouting report on Gose, who was recently promoted to the majors.
“He’s never seen him throw,” Yost said, and added, “When I was coaching third base, I’d always make them make the play. And he did, in that situation. He made a heck of a throw.”
Toronto opted for a more efficient method of scoring to reclaim the lead in the fourth. Juan Francisco unloaded on a 93-mph fastball. His two-run blast cleared the Blue Jays’ bullpen in right field. It was the next home run that vexed Guthrie.
With two outs in the sixth, Guthrie appeared capable of holding the deadlock. He popped a pair of strikes into the zone against Rasmus. At 1-2, he opted for a slider. The pitch dipped at Rasmus’ knees, but still came over the plate. He had intended to spot it on the outside corner.
The resulting parabola again arced over the Toronto bullpen. Guthrie stood a few steps away from the mound as it fell. He would save his anger — and his humor — for later.
“I thought a fan upstairs could deserve a ball,” Guthrie said. “Everyone down below always gets baseballs. So I have a strong arm, for the most part. I figured somebody up in the third deck, cheap tickets, give them a nice ball.”