KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals did on Saturday night, they took an early lead Sunday.And as the Royals also did Saturday night, they gave it back. Kansas City surrendered a pair of leads before falling to the Red Sox, 7-4, at Kauffman Stadium as the Red Sox completed a
KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals did on Saturday night, they took an early lead Sunday.
And as the Royals also did Saturday night, they gave it back. Kansas City surrendered a pair of leads before falling to the Red Sox, 7-4, at Kauffman Stadium as the Red Sox completed a three-game sweep. Whit Merrifield had the first five-hit game of his career for the Royals.
"He's been our most consistent player offensively the whole season," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had a great day again today. He's been a catalyst for us."
"Tough day for us as a team," Merrifield added, "but glad I could contribute."
Merrifield has overcome a relatively slow start to this season and now is hitting .303.
"Like I said at the beginning of the year, it's the course of the season -- sometimes you don't feel great and it just so happened that was the beginning of my season," Merrifield said. "I'm feeling good right now, but there will be times again where I don't feel great. But the key is to manage those times and that's how you put together a good season."
The Royals now have lost nine straight and 27 of 31. They did, though, get a glimpse of a potential piece of their future.
Rookie right-hander Heath Fillmyer made his first Major League start and certainly pitched to contact. He gave up eight hits over 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) while walking three and striking out none. He did induce three of the Royals' four ground-ball double plays in the game.
"I felt in control other than a couple of pitches that got away from me where I tried to do too much," Fillmyer said. "Other than that, I felt pretty good. You got guys one through nine [in Boston's lineup] who are all great hitters and that's why they're in the position they're in. You just try to execute pitches the best you can. Try to stay within yourself best you can.
"I think I learned a lot from this moving forward. Hopefully next time I'll learn and give Ned a little bit more."
The Royals showed life offensively early. Jorge Bonifacio ripped a two-run double in the third. Raul Mondesi came through with a big two-out RBI single in the fourth.
The Royals had a great chance to crawl back into the contest in the seventh against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. Andrew Butera led off with a bloop single and Merrifield followed with a double down the left-field line, his fourth hit of the game and second double. But then Bonifacio and Mike Moustakas each struck out on fastballs high and out of the zone. Lucas Duda popped out to end the threat.
While Fillmyer made his first Major League start, right-hander Glenn Sparkman, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Omaha earlier in the day, made his Royals debut in the fifth inning. Sparkman came in with the bases loaded and one out, and got a flyout to center and a groundout.
Sparkman pitched a scoreless sixth before giving up three runs in the seventh.
The Royals open a three-game set with the Twins in Minneapolis on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Left-hander Danny Duffy (4-8, 5.19 ERA) starts for the Royals while right-hander Jose Berrios (8-7, 3.54 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins. Duffy will be making his team-leading 19th start. He gave up six runs and eight hits over six innings in a 6-4 loss to the Indians on Tuesday.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.