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KC gets look at slew of relievers on 'pen day

Newly acquired Bolaños (2 IP, 1 K) aims to stick in the rotation
@FlannyMLB
July 26, 2020

This wasn’t what Royals manager Mike Matheny envisioned in his team’s first “bullpen game.” Kansas City, which even back in Spring Training didn’t have a set fifth starter, is also missing rotation pieces Brad Keller and Jakob Junis -- both on the injured list with COVID-19 related issues. So Matheny

This wasn’t what Royals manager Mike Matheny envisioned in his team’s first “bullpen game.”

Kansas City, which even back in Spring Training didn’t have a set fifth starter, is also missing rotation pieces Brad Keller and Jakob Junis -- both on the injured list with COVID-19 related issues.

So Matheny turned to Ronald Bolaños, acquired from the Padres on July 16, to start Sunday’s game at Progressive Field as more or less an opener. Bolaños gave up two unearned runs in two innings, but the rest of the Royals’ bullpen faltered in a 9-2 loss to Cleveland.

Box score

The Indians took the opening 2020 series, two games to one.

Following Bolaños were right-hander Jorge López and left-hander Gabe Speier, both of whom had mirrored outings: three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning.

The two runs charged to Speier came in when reliever Kevin McCarthy left a fastball up to José Ramírez, who belted a three-run homer to right in the fourth inning, giving Cleveland a commanding 7-1 lead, before turning on another in the sixth.

The Royals' defense wasn’t sharp, either. Third baseman Erick Mejia made a huge one-out throwing error on a grounder from Ramírez that led to two runs in the first. Right fielder Franchy Cordero, acquired with Bolaños from San Diego, committed a two-base error in the third inning that led to a run.

But Bolaños, it appears, will get more opportunities in the Royals’ rotation.

“He was throwing with confidence,” Matheny said. “His stuff was right. He’s got Major League weapons. I see him being a part of what we’re doing moving forward.”

Bolaños, in fact, went straight to the bullpen after his two-inning, 32-pitch outing for about 20 more tosses, which helped further stretch out the 23-year-old.

“The goal is to continue to build,” Bolaños said through interpreter Luis Perez. “I want to get the chance to start again.”

Bolaños’ outing would have looked even better had it not been for Mejia’s error.

“It seems like every walk, every error comes back to score on us right now,” Matheny said. “Every time.”

Meanwhile, Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco sailed early on, retiring the first 10 Kansas City hitters and striking out as many in six-plus innings. The Royals only nicked Carrasco for runs in the fourth and fifth on RBI hits from Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield, respectively.

“We faced three good starters this weekend,” Matheny said. “But I think we’ll be fine. I’m seeing better approaches at the plate.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.