Boxberger unable to secure late lead for Royals

Right-hander yields go-ahead 2-run homer in pivotal 8th inning

April 16th, 2019

CHICAGO -- It has been a rough start to 2019 for Royals reliever Brad Boxberger.

Given a one-run lead in the eighth, Boxberger gave up a leadoff double to Tim Anderson and a two-run home run to Welington Castillo as the Royals’ three-game winning streak ended with a 5-4 loss to the White Sox on Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The early-season woes continued for Boxberger, whose ERA ballooned to 9.72. It was also his second blown save in five days.

“Unbelievably frustrated,” Boxberger said. “Every outing this year has been different for me, and I’m trying to feel around and find out what’s been going on out there. I just need to get back to work and work on some mechanical stuff, and get back to where I know I can be.”

The frustrations are evident, too, for manager Ned Yost, who has watched helpless as his bullpen has robbed the team of what could have been a good start to the season. Yost admits he has done the math on victories that have slipped away.

“What are the numbers now?” Yost said. “Seven times we had the lead from the seventh inning on? Of course I’m doing the math. We’re all working diligently to get some of these guys settled down a little so it’s not like this anymore. We got 11 losses and seven times we’ve had the lead late.”

The Royals, who had a walk-off win on Sunday when pinch-runner Terrance Gore stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on Hunter Dozier’s single, used almost the same formula to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh.

Speedy Billy Hamilton walked, stole second (on a pitchout), went to third when the throw skipped into center, and scored on Whit Merrifield’s sacrifice fly.

But Boxberger hung a 2-2 changeup to Anderson, then grooved a 2-0 fastball to Castillo, who hit his first homer of the season.

“You don’t want to leave those right down the middle,” Boxberger said. “I just didn’t make the pitches I wanted to tonight.”

Yost didn’t have many options in the eighth. Reliever Scott Barlow had thrown two scoreless innings after starter Heath Fillymer gave up three runs over five innings.

“I didn’t have Wily Peralta tonight,” Yost said. “[Ian] Kennedy needed another night. I was going to close with [Jake] Diekman.

“I thought about sending Barlow back out with 30 pitches, but it would have been the second time through the lineup with him. I just figured Box could get us through the eighth.”

The night started promising for the Royals when Dozier led off the second inning with a rocket over the left-center field fence, jumping on a first-pitch four-seamer from Ervin Santana for his fourth home run this season.

Moments later, Chris Owings jolted a two-run opposite-field home run off Santana, also taking advantage of a four-seam fastball, and the Royals had a 3-0 lead.