'Indescribable' feeling as 6-run lead vanishes

May 23rd, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- The worst loss of the season.

That’s how manager Mike Matheny described the feeling after the Royals blew a six-run lead and lost 7-6 on Sunday afternoon, swept at the hands of the Twins.

“Indescribable,” he said. “As frustrating as it could possibly be. When they’re right in front of you to put away and the back end of your bullpen [is] rested … To lose one of those, you just can’t properly describe it.”

But it wasn’t just that the Royals lost their first game of the season when leading after seven innings. It’s the way it happened that is shocking.

Dependable relievers Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont combined to give up three runs after Taylor Clarke could not record an out and allowed four runs to score. Barlow yielded a two-run homer by Kyle Garlick that cut the Royals' lead to 6-5 in the eighth before Staumont came in and closed the inning.

It was a leadoff walk in the ninth that opened the door -- one that felt shut just a few innings earlier -- for the Twins to rally to score two in the ninth and claim the lead.

“The guys at the back have been so good all season picking each other up, and if one of them is having a bad day, the other picks him up,” Matheny said. “It was unfortunate today because they’ve been good for us and we’ve worked them hard.”

Nobody in the clubhouse after the game made an excuse, including Staumont, who hadn’t given up a run in his last four appearances entering Sunday.

“We’re giving it everything we’ve got,” he said. “Frustration is at the top. Everyone gives 100 percent, and to fall short in a game like this is super frustrating.”

The lone positive of the game came from Royals starter Brady Singer, who followed up his impressive performance from earlier this week and threw seven scoreless innings. Singer threw 95 pitches and allowed four hits, three walks and struck out three.

“You have one like that where Brady follows up his last start and is better,” Matheny said. “You couldn’t begin to ask him to do more.”

Singer has now thrown 17 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings as a starter, which is a career high and the longest by a Royals pitcher since 2018.

Singer gritted his teeth when he knew he had to make his best pitch of the day in the sixth inning, when Max Kepler stepped in with the bases loaded and one out. Singer threw Kepler a changeup and was able to get him to ground out on a fielder’s choice.

Then he used his slider on the next at-bat to get Gary Sánchez to fly out to left field and strand three runners.

“The changeup was good when it needed to be,” he explained. “I thought I made pitches at the right time.”

He faced one batter over the minimum across the first five innings while retiring 13 of 14 batters, shutting down the powerful Twins lineup using a mix of his offerings.

“I felt good and all three pitches were working well,” Singer said. “My slider was sharp and fastball command felt good.”

Singer was electric for the second straight start after being sent down to Triple-A in late April.

The Royals' 2018 first-round Draft pick was sent to Omaha to work on being stretched out for more innings after a short stint in the bullpen to start the season. In three relief outings, he allowed four earned runs, gave up seven hits and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings as a reliever.

Since being called back up, he’s given up eight hits, three walks and struck out 12 over 14 innings in two scoreless starts.

However, it’s how the Royals had a six-run lead vanish that will be freshest on the mind as Kansas City finishes its homestand 2-6 and begins a nine-game road trip.

“It’ll be talked about,” Matheny said. “Mislocation is what it comes down to. … These guys are going to get the job done more often than not. It's just bad timing for one where we have three of our back-end guys that keep trying to help each other out and we just can’t get it done.”