Royals' 'relentless' offense backs Lugo in 7th straight win

KC puts up 8+ runs in 5th straight game for second time in franchise history (1978)

May 25th, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Royals kept bulldozing along Friday night, winning their seventh straight game by blasting two home runs to overpower the Rays, 8-1, at Tropicana Field.

It took a lot to overshadow another excellent performance from right-hander (8-1), who allowed four hits over seven innings and again staked his claim as the American League’s best starting pitcher.

But the Royals’ offense did just that. The Royals scored eight or more runs for the fifth straight game for only the second time in franchise history (1978), and the first time in MLB since the Dodgers ended the 2021 season on such a streak. It’s also the first time Kansas City has had two winning streaks of seven-plus games since the 2014 season.

The big blow was 's two-out, three-run homer off left-hander Tyler Alexander, putting the Royals up 5-1 in the fifth inning. It was Massey’s sixth homer in his last 20 games, but one inning later he left the game with what the Royals described as low back tightness, the same injury that caused him to start the season on the injured list.

Royals manager Matt Quatraro said Massey departed as a precaution. Massey reiterated that he is confident he will be fine. The 29-year-old second baseman is considered day to day.

“You don’t want to turn it into something that’s longer than it needs to be," Massey said. “I felt it during the day. It didn’t make sense to stay out there and take a chance. Just some back tightness. I wanted to get some treatment and try to loosen it up."

On the offense, Massey said, “We’re on a nice little roll. We feel like if we get runners on base, we’re going to drive them in."

Quatraro added: “I think the word that comes to mind is they have just been relentless. It has just been consistent. It’s a testament to the guys up and down the order, getting good at-bats and passing the baton to the next guy."

Bobby Witt Jr. added his eighth homer, a 433-foot solo shot to center field, to lead off the seventh and put the Royals ahead 7-1. Freddy Fermin later added an RBI double to secure his fourth consecutive multihit game.

Lugo was touched for a run in the first inning on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded, but he allowed only one runner in scoring position the rest of the way. He retired 13 of 14 batters at one point and continued his standout season, lowering his American League-best ERA to 1.74.

Carlos Hernández, who returned from the injured list prior to the game Friday, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close it out.

The Royals (33-19) didn’t win their 33rd game until Aug. 1 last season and were 15-37 after 52 games in 2023.

“These are two totally different teams," Quatraro said. “We made a lot of changes in the offseason. The guys who were here matured a lot. You see that on the field every night and with the way they handle themselves. And there’s no secret that our pitching has been so good. That’s the bottom line. When you pitch extremely well, that gives you a chance to win every night."

Lugo said he was frustrated at allowing an early run. It was the first time in 54 consecutive innings that the Royals had trailed. But Lugo bore down and the Royals’ offense quickly took care of that deficit.

“I felt like I had to battle tonight," Lugo said. “I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff. When our offense is going like that, it gives me the chance to settle in and not be so hard on myself. As a starting pitcher, the goal is to go as deep as you can. Getting through the seventh inning with all those runs was big for the team."

Witt said Lugo’s effort was appreciated.

“What he’s doing each and every day is incredible," Witt said. “He’s putting the work in. It’s great to play defense behind him and score runs for him."