MIAMI -- As a veteran on a young squad, Jordan Lyles did his part on Wednesday night.
The 32-year-old right-hander gave the Royals both innings and a chance in the series finale vs. the Marlins. But unfortunately for Lyles, he wasn’t able to give his team a victory.
Lyles allowed five runs over seven-plus innings in Kansas City’s 6-1 loss to Miami at loanDepot park.
The final line for Lyles hardly tells the story of how effective he was, though, despite his record falling to 0-10.
“Take the positives when you can,” Lyles said. “That’s kind of been my season so far. Individually, [not] that bad a stat line. Maybe if we pitched a little better [results would be different]. … Baseball is a long season. We have four more months to work and improve and make some strides.”
The Royals were swept in the three games by a hot Miami team that has won six straight.
In fairness to Lyles, he didn’t get much offensive support. Kansas City was limited to just three hits, two coming in the third inning off Edward Cabrera, who left the game after five innings due to a blister.
Maikel Garcia singled to open the inning, then scored on Nick Pratto’s RBI single. Pratto is on a six-game hit streak and has reached base safely in his past 10 games.
“Those are good arms,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “Every single one of those guys. Plus stuff. Plus fastballs with movement. They threw a ton of strikes. Cabrera has a good slider and a good changeup.”
After Lyles allowed back-to-back singles to open the eighth, Jose Cuas came on in relief and allowed a two-run double to Bryan De La Cruz and an RBI single to Jesús Sánchez.
Had Lyles made it through the eighth inning, he had a chance to pick up his second complete game of the season. Instead, he worked seven-plus innings, and until the eighth had allowed just a three-run homer in the third inning to Sánchez.
“He’s had several starts like that this year where he’s gone real deep into games, and that’s something that he’s always done,” Quatraro said. “He throws a lot of innings. He’s durable, he bounces back well. Tonight, he keeps us in the game.”
The three-run homer in the third to Sánchez came with two outs, which adds to the frustration of his winless record.
“We’ve made some strides the last two or three starts,” Lyles said. “Just those individual, small, little things I can keep adding up and building on and continue to keep us in every game.”
Even at a time the results haven’t gone Lyles’ way, the right-hander has given the Royals’ 73 2/3 innings in 13 starts.
“He is level-headed,” Quatraro said. “But the other thing is, it’s constant work behind the scenes to work on what he thinks.”
Through this rough stretch, Lyles has been refining things with pitching coach Brian Sweeney.
“Brian and the guys are thinking about the reasons that he had been struggling,” Quatraro said. “Whether that’s arm slot, or grips, or pitch design, efficiency, all those kinds of things.
“So you see him take the mound every fifth or sixth day. Those other four days are a flurry of conversations at work ... and that’s the process that guys really dive into, to continue to try to improve.”
Collectively the Royals were shut down by the Marlins’ pitching, and they hurt themselves with mental and physical mistakes. In Tuesday’s loss, they committed a season-high three errors.
Quatraro stressed the importance of continuing development as a coaching staff.
“That’s what coaching is,” Quatraro said. “It’s continuing to teach. It’s continuing to remind. It’s continuing to put a process for these guys.
“'Were you thinking about what could happen on this play? Or, if you weren’t, why and what distracted you? What was your mind like?' Just continuing to coach and teach and get things back to what can be the best version of ourselves.”