Royals struggle in exhibition loss to Houston

The Kansas City Royals, on Tuesday afternoon, used their exhibition game against the visiting Houston Astros, to test the depth of the pitching staff.  If results from one afternoon are any indication, KC may be praying to get Brad Keller and Jakob Junis back and healthy from their bouts with COVID-19 sooner than later.

The Kansas City staff struggled with control and command all day, with the defending American League champions putting up 15 runs, in a 15-6 win over the Royals to sweep the two-game series.

Right-hander Glenn Sparkman, considered an option to get a weekend start in Cleveland, only went the first 1 2/3 innings for the Royals, picking up three walks and two hits, adding up to three runs, two of the earned variety.  Jorge Lopez had perhaps worse command from the bump, coming into the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the 2nd inning, and promptly plunking the next two Houston batters to force in back-to-back runs, and adding a walk in the third inning.

In total, the Royals pitching staff walked seven batters and hit three, throwing over 200 pitches total in a long day at an empty yard.

Manager Mike Matheny was critical of the pitching staff, saying that falling behind in counts put Houston in the advantage, and his team at a disadvantage all game long.

Utility man Erick Mejia had a two-run single for the Royals offense, with young phenom Bobby Witt Jr. amassing two more hits, including an RBI double in the 8th inning.

The Royals close out exhibition play on Wednesday afternoon at 3:05 with a cross-state trip to St. Louis to take on Matheny’s former club, the Cardinals.  Jesse Hahn, who had an ERA of 12.60 for Kansas City, will look for improvement, getting the baseball for the Royals.  Last night’s game, and the Wednesday afternoon contest, were and can be heard on KTTN AM 1600, with Wednesday’s game at Busch Stadium also available on MLB.TV. 

The Royals made it official on Tuesday that last year’s Opening Day starter, Brad Keller, will not be ready for the opening day roster, and he continues to build stamina coming off of a COVID-19 shutdown.  The Royals also announced that Stephen Woods Jr., the right-hander plucked from the Rays organization in the off-season Rule 5 draft, cleared waivers.  Kansas City will retain his services as they outright him from the 40-man roster.  Tampa Bay will receive either cash or a player to be named from the Royals as compensation.

In other exhibition finals on Tuesday, scores were:

Cincinnati 9, Detroit 7

Colorado 5, Texas 1

LA Dodgers 6, LA Angels 4

San Francisco 4, Oakland 2

Washington 6, Baltimore 4

Atlanta 10, Miami 9

Toronto 8, Boston 6

Photo credit – Jamie Squire / Getty Images / Kansas City, MO