ARLINGTON -- Struggling Royals lefty Eric Skoglund didn't make many mistakes in an 8-4 loss to the Rangers on Friday night at Globe Life Park. But it didn't take many to ruin his night.Skoglund gave up six earned runs without pitching into the sixth inning for the second consecutive start.
ARLINGTON -- Struggling Royals lefty Eric Skoglund didn't make many mistakes in an 8-4 loss to the Rangers on Friday night at Globe Life Park. But it didn't take many to ruin his night.
Skoglund gave up six earned runs without pitching into the sixth inning for the second consecutive start. He only left a few pitches up in the strike zone, but the Rangers hit three of them for home runs. Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara each drilled two-run shots and Shin-Soo Choo hit a solo homer.
"A couple mistakes they made him pay for," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "A couple of elevated pitches, Mazara and Guzman. For the most part, [Skoglund was] OK, they just capitalized on some elevation. … We're not talking about major inconsistencies here, we're just talking about a few mistakes."
Perhaps the most costly of Skoglund's missed pitches was a hanging, 81-mph curveball on the first pitch to Guzman with two out in the fourth. Guzman lined the ball a projected 387 feet down the right-field line, according to Statcast™, to give the Rangers the lead for good.
The final blow for Skoglund was Mazara's two-run homer on a 3-1 fastball with one out in the fifth. Mazara lifted the ball to the opposite field, where it bounced off the top of the left-field wall. It came on Skoglund's 91st pitch.
Yost left Skoglund in for one more batter, but after Jurickson Profar doubled, Yost summoned reliever Brian Flynn, who tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the game close.
"He did a great job of coming in and holding that fort right there for us, holding the score," Yost said of Flynn.
Flynn's replacement, Blaine Boyer, fared worse, giving up the final two runs in a rocky 29-pitch eighth inning.
Skoglund has lost his past three starts, posting a 7.27 ERA (14 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings) over that stretch. He allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out four as he fell to 1-5.
"I just missed up in the zone, wasn't able to establish the fastball, so that kind of hurt me," Skoglund said. "I didn't have much feel [for the curveball], wasn't able to throw it for strikes. The command was not there. It's frustrating. I'm just missing, not staying ahead, getting behind in counts, and that's where you get hurt. That's what's happened these last couple starts."
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The Royals brought the potential tying run to the plate with two out in the ninth, loading the bases against reliever Jake Diekman and closer Keone Kela, but Kela got Salvador Perez to fly out to center field on a 3-1 count for his 11th save. According to Statcast™, Perez hit the ball a projected 361 feet to right-center, and Delino DeShields was able to get there for the final out.
"As soon as Salvy hit that ball, it left his bat, for a second I was thinking, man, this might go far enough, but it was not to be," Yost said.
Statistically speaking, Skoglund seemed like a potentially difficult opponent for the Rangers considering his history of success against left-handed hitters. The Rangers had five lefties and a switch-hitter in their lineup. Skoglund had held lefties to a .174 (4-for-23) average this season after holding Triple-A lefties to a .231 (24-for-104) average at Omaha last season.
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The Royals initially kept pace with the homer-heavy Rangers, with Mike Moustakas blasting a two-run homer off Mike Minor in the first inning and Jorge Soler crushing a solo shot in the fourth. Soler's was a no-doubter to left-center field, a projected 444 feet from the plate above the visitors' bullpen. Statcast™ estimated Soler's homer left his bat at 111.3 mph with a launch angle of 25 degrees.
Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy will take the mound for the third of this four-game set against the Rangers at 3:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Globe Life Park. He will oppose righty Bartolo Colon. The 10 current Royals who have faced Colon are hitting .333 (22-for-66) against the 45-year-old veteran. Alex Gordon is 4-for-11 (.364) with two doubles and a homer against Colon.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Texas.