The final line for Royals rookie left-hander Kris Bubic won’t look very impressive -- five innings, seven hits, five runs.
But as is often the case in the big leagues, one or two pitches would have changed everything about Bubic’s night.
As it is, Bubic -- making his third career start and first on the road -- fought through adversity and retired the final seven batters he faced on four strikeouts.
The Royals rallied from a four-run deficit and forced extra innings, but they lost 6-5 in 10 innings when Joey Votto drove in the winning run from second base on a drive off the center-field wall. That snapped the Royals’ four-game winning streak.
“That should have been a game that was ours,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “I’ll probably look at this later and see a whole lot of positives, but right now I’ve got a lot of things just stuck in my head right now about things I know our guys can do [better].”
Bubic also got a bit unlucky. The Reds had two runners on and none out in the second when a ground ball by Curt Casali was headed for shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and a seemingly sure double play. But the ball hit baserunner Matt Davidson, who was going from second to third.
Davidson was out, and the other two runners were safe. Christian Colón then grounded out, which could have been the third out.
“If [Davidson] did that on purpose,” Bubic said, “that was a smart play. Savvy. I was really hoping that was a double play.”
Instead, Bubic then hung a 3-2 changeup to Kyle Farmer, who ripped a two-run double off the wall in right-center.
Bubic could have had a 1-2-3 inning in the third. He fired a 2-2 fastball on the inside corner to Nick Castellanos that appeared to be strike three. Even Castellanos seemed ready to walk back to the dugout.
But given new life, Castellanos belted a high changeup for a triple to right-center. Bubic tied up Votto and got a weak grounder, then struck out Eugenio Suárez.
Davidson, however, followed with a first-pitch jack to right-center on a changeup. Davidson now has 12 home runs in 28 career games against Kansas City. Jesse Winker tagged a 2-2 fastball for a back-to-back, opposite-field homer, and it was 5-1 Cincinnati.
“Actually, I went back and saw the video after the game and it clipped the corner,” Bubic said. “I know the strike zone was a little inconsistent, but nothing I can do about that. I have to make a better 3-2 pitch to Castellanos.
“But overall, I thought I pitched better than my line. I was glad I could keep us in the game.”
The Royals had numerous chances early to break the game open, but they left 10 on base and were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
They fought back, though, and tied it on Ryan McBroom’s pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth. It seemed the Royals had all the momentum at that point.
“I thought the whole time we were going to win that game,” McBroom said. “And when we tied it, I thought for sure, especially with our bullpen.”
The Royals’ bullpen, which has become the strength of the team, turned in scoreless frames from the sixth through the ninth. In the 10th, Josh Staumont came on with a runner on second and walked Castellanos.
Votto then sent a high drive toward center that Brett Phillips seemed to be tracking. But Phillips appeared to think he was closer to the wall than he was, and his awkwardly-timed leap missed, allowing the winning run to score.
“I would imagine if you ask Brett, he’d say that’s a ball he will catch nine times out of 10,” Matheny said.
Right-hander Brad Keller (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second start of the season as the Royals wrap up a two-game set at Cincinnati on Wednesday at 5:40 p.m. CT, live on MLB.TV. Left-hander Wade Miley (0-1, 27.00 ERA) will pitch for the Reds. Keller, who will be making his first career start against the Reds, threw five scoreless innings against the Cubs last Thursday, giving up three hits while striking out seven.