PITTSBURGH -- The Royals reached the century mark in the loss column for the fifth time in franchise history with their 2-1 defeat against the Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday. But with a youthful rotation and young position players having breakout seasons, Kansas City has good reason to be
PITTSBURGH -- The Royals reached the century mark in the loss column for the fifth time in franchise history with their 2-1 defeat against the Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday. But with a youthful rotation and young position players having breakout seasons, Kansas City has good reason to be optimistic about the future.
"It stinks to get 100 losses, but you know what? Again, the thing that I look at right now, and I feel much better about, is we're making progress," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The majority, nine-tenths of our fans are looking at this club right now and having fun watching it. They're watching them grow, they're watching them get better, they're watching them compete and play hard. And I'm pleased with that."
The Royals' rotation is among those growing before people's eyes. On Wednesday, Heath Fillmyer served as the last leg of a trio of rookie pitchers to start during Kansas City's three-game Interleague series in Pittsburgh. Fillmyer, 24, looked sharp as he made his fifth quality start of the season by allowing a pair of runs and striking out five over seven innings.
Fillmyer's outing capped a series that also saw solid starts from 25-year-old southpaw Eric Skoglund and 23-year-old right-hander Brad Keller. The trio combined to allow just six earned runs over 19-plus innings at PNC Park.
"You see starts like this, these are big league starts," Yost said. "And that's exactly what you ask for. Go out, keep us in the game, give us a chance to win. And that's exactly what he did."
Matched in a pitchers' duel with Pirates right-hander Chris Archer, it was Fillmyer who blinked first. He served up a leadoff double to Corey Dickerson in the second inning that ultimately led to the first run on Colin Moran's sacrifice fly to deep left field.
But it was another young Royal who evened the score in the third inning. Raul Mondesi, 23, added another milestone to his impressive 2018 campaign, when he golfed an Archer fastball over the center-field wall to tie the game at 1.
It was Mondesi's 10th home run in 65 games with the Royals this season. He finished the night 2-for-4 with a stolen base after going 0-for-5 on Tuesday. The young infielder has posted impressive numbers throughout September, going 22-for-68 (.324) with four homers and eight steals through 16 games.
"I just keep working," Mondesi said. "Last night I tried to do too much, and everybody knows that doesn't work. So I just try to stay short to the ball and put the ball in play."
However, as Pirates manager Clint Hurdle pointed out after Wednesday's game, the Royals have put in the effort to be in games every night. But "they've gotten results, and they haven't gotten results."
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They didn't get the final result they wanted on Wednesday. With two outs in the fifth inning, Fillmyer elevated an 80.1 mph curveball to Adam Frazier that resulted in a go-ahead home run to center field that proved to be the difference.
"They say in baseball, 'You can win a game with 100 pitches, and lose a game with one.' That's kind of what happened today," Fillmyer said. "Not that I was perfect by any means, but I left one up and the guy got it and it ended up being the difference."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Not-so-Merri(field) ending to fifth inning: With the score tied in the fifth inning, Whit Merrifield lined a two-out double to right field to bring Mondesi -- then 2-for-2 -- to the plate. Merrifield attempted to steal third during Mondesi's at-bat and was thrown out, ending the scoring threat.
Wednesday night's loss marked the first time the Royals have lost 100 games in a season since 2006, and just the fifth time it's happened in franchise history. They previously did so in 2005, 2004 and 2002.
HE SAID IT
"I feel like we're making headway going into next year. All of these guys, they're going to have a long to-do list on what they need to do to continue to improve. We'll go over that individually with each player, but they've made tremendous headway and are on their way." -- Yost, on the Royals' future
Right-hander Jorge Lopez (2-3, 4.64 ERA) is expected to make the start on Thursday as the Royals open a four-game series with the Tigers at Comerica Park at 6:10 p.m. CT. Lopez left his last start in the fifth inning because of a left rib contusion. Left-hander Matthew Boyd (9-12, 4.08 ERA) will start for Detroit.
Mason Wittner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.