KANSAS CITY -- Despite 7 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, the Royals fell, 4-3, to the Tigers on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Rookie right-hander Carlos Hernández made his final start of 2020 and wasn’t sharp, going 1 2/3 innings while allowing seven hits and four runs (three earned).
The Royals’ offense, which had scored 23 runs in its last three games, finally cooled off, collecting seven hits.
Here are three ups and three downs from Saturday’s game:
Mondesi stays hot: Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi has been on a tear lately, and he had seven hits in the first two games of this series. To top that, Mondesi blasted a first-inning homer off Matthew Boyd into the left-field bullpen, his fifth this season. Mondesi also doubled in a run in the third and scored.
Mondesi is hitting .358 over his past 21 games with 12 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 16 steals.
On Saturday, he tied a club record by reaching base in 11 consecutive plate appearances, a mark previously held by Amos Otis, Joe Randa and Steve Braun. The streak ended when Mondesi struck out in the seventh inning.
“To watch Mondi do what he did during that stretch,” manager Mike Matheny said, “some sort of record, right? What an impressive stretch, taking walks. He didn’t try to do too much, which is funny to say considering how far that [home run] ball traveled [a Statcast-projected 426 feet].
“It just makes you shake your head and wonder, if we had a full season, what kind of year he’d have put together.”
Montgomery deals: Royals left-hander Mike Montgomery, just activated from the 45-day injured list (lat strain) this week, took over for Hernández in the second and certainly restored order. Montgomery threw 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three.
“It was huge for me to finish on a high note,” Montgomery said. “The last month and a half have been tough, working in Arizona, trying to get through the injury. I’m glad they had me come out here and get me a couple of innings so I could end on a positive note and have some momentum going into next year.”
Unsung hero: Royals right-hander Jake Newberry has been thrown into numerous roles this season, from mop-up man to closer. Newberry got his first big league save on Thursday when Greg Holland was shut down with an oblique injury. Newberry was back in a long-relief role Saturday night and once again did his job, throwing two scoreless innings and allowing one hit while striking out four.
“We just beat him up down there in multiple roles all year,” Matheny said, “and he just kept coming through. Pretty impressive.”
Hernández struggles: Hernández never found his groove in his last outing of 2020. He had two on and two out in the first when he faced Niko Goodrum, who lined an RBI single to center.
Then light-hitting Tigers catcher Austin Romine blasted a two-run double to straightaway center for a 3-0 Detroit lead.
Hernández allowed another RBI single in the second to Willi Castro to make it 4-1 Tigers. After striking out Miguel Cabrera for the second out, catcher Salvador Perez signaled for the bench and out came Matheny and trainer Nick Kenney. But Hernández wasn’t removed for an injury -- he came out because of ineffectiveness.
“I was very grateful to have this experience this year,” Hernández said through interpreter Luis Perez. “Can’t wait to come back next year and show what I can do.”
Salvy finally cools off: Other than Mondesi, no Royals hitter has been hotter than Perez lately. But Perez finally cooled off on Saturday. He came up with a runner on second and one out in the third but popped out to the catcher. He came back up with two on and one out in the fifth but struck out on three pitches, the last of which was well outside the zone. In the seventh, with the tying run on second and two outs, Perez took a called third strike.
No more Boom Boom: Royals first baseman/designated hitter Ryan McBroom was the talk of Kansas City in August when he set a franchise record with three pinch-hit home runs. But his season is ending on a sour note. Since late August, McBroom is 1-for-23.