Sparkman stays stingy at home in loss to Cards

Royals right-hander lowers ERA to 2.84 at Kauffman Stadium

August 14th, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- There’s one pattern that held true for Royals right-hander on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Sparkman really loves to pitch at home, proving it again by giving up just one earned run through six innings in the Royals’ 2-0 loss to the Cardinals in the opener of a two-game I-70 Series.

Sparkman came into the game 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 11 outings (six starts) at Kauffman Stadium this season -- he lowered that to 2.84. On the road, he is 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in 11 outings.

If there’s a reason for the huge disparity in splits, Sparkman said he hasn’t found one.

"I have no idea,” he said. “I mean, I'm pretty comfortable on this mound. I don't know, the crowd, everything. I like pitching here."

The Cardinals nicked Sparkman for an unearned run in the first on an error by third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, a balk, a groundout, and a sacrifice fly by Paul Goldschmidt.

The balk occurred when Sparkman nearly fell over while making a pitch. He slipped off the rubber, stopped to regain his balance, then heaved a pitch to the plate that was nearly a strike.

"My spikes just went straight on the rubber when I was getting my load, and I just slipped,” Sparkman said. “I tried to keep going, did the best I could."

Such a balk happened to Sparkman earlier this season.

"It's actually happened to me quite a bit,” he said. “It's happened like probably four times already."

Sparkman gave up another run in the third on a double, an infield hit and a single by Tommy Edman.

But overall, Sparkman allowed just four hits while walking one and striking out two.

"Definitely with every start I'm getting a little better,” he said. “I'm still shaky on the first through third innings. But overall, I felt pretty good today. Definitely a lot of things to work on still."

The Royals’ offense did little against Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty, who threw seven scoreless innings. Singles by Nicky Lopez and Whit Merrifield got the Royals two on with none out in the sixth. But Alex Gordon tapped into a double play and Hunter Dozier struck out.

“He has good stuff,” manager Ned Yost said of Flaherty. “Good breaking ball. That pitch to Alex, it was outside, but it must have moved [18 inches]. Very impressed with him.”

Merrifield was one hitter who seemed to see Flaherty well. Merrifield sent a deep drive to left field in the third inning that was caught on the warning track.

“I thought that was going to be gone for sure,” Merrifield said. “I’ve hit some here that have been so-so, but I thought that one was gone. So, it’s part of playing in Kauffman.”