Second verse, much like the first: Royals lose 5-1

Will Smith #31 of the Kansas City Royals poses for a photo during the Kansas City Royals Photo Day at Surprise Stadium on Thursday, February 22, 2024 in Surprise, Arizona.
Will Smith #31 of the Kansas City Royals poses for a photo during the Kansas City Royals Photo Day at Surprise Stadium on Thursday, February 22, 2024 in Surprise, Arizona. | Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Lack of offense and a no-good, very-bad bullpen debut from a Royals’ free agent acquisition lead to the Royals’ first losing streak of 2024

The Royals gave Bobby Witt Jr. by far the biggest contract ever in Royals’ history this offseason and he’s doing his best to live up to it. Unfortunately, he can’t do it alone and the relievers the Royals added to prevent things from getting out of hand as often as they did last season have struggled out of the gate.

But let’s go back to the beginning. Seth Lugo, at least, lived up to his billing as the team’s number two starter in his Royals debut. He pitched six shutout innings while striking out four, walking one, and allowing a pair of hits. Elite numbers? No. Good enough to win most days? Yes. But not today.

Bobby Witt Jr. was almost the entirety of the Royals’ offense after Twins starter Joe Ryan opened the game with three perfect innings. Witt had a pair of doubles, a walk, and the team’s sole run scored when MJ Melendez drove him in with a single in the bottom of the sixth following a Vinnie Pasquantino walk and a Salvador Perez flyout. Melendez, who also singled in the ninth, was the only other batter to reach multiple times in this one. Hunter Renfroe, who was added for some mid-order pop struck out three times in four at-bats. Adam Frazier also singled.

When Quatraro went to the bullpen in the seventh inning with a 1-0 lead he had his pick of relievers we all expected to be more or less reliable. He chose trade acquisition John Schreiber. Schreiber gave up a hit and also hit two batters but escaped the jam with a strikeout and a groundball double play.

James McArthur had a rough outing to start his 2024, allowing a run on four hard-hit balls – two of which turned into doubles, one which turned into a flyout, and one which became a lineout, as well as a strikeout where he basically threw nothing but his slider. Still, that only led to a tie game. It was when new closer Will Smith arrived in the ninth inning that things really went awry.

Smith allowed four hits, two walks, and a hit batter. That, combined with Schreiber’s two and one by Lugo, meant the Royals hit four batters on the day. Smith just absolutely did not have it today. Add in a throwing error by MJ Melendez and four runs scored in the top of the ninth off the Royals’ presumed closer. Hopefully, this will be a small blip in an otherwise successful season, but when you’re dealing with relievers and especially relievers over 30 perhaps we should have been a bit more pessimistic about the team than some of us were.

The Royals are 0-2 and running out there with an offense that seems incredibly suspect for the second season in a row. Yesterday’s darling, Maikel Garcia, struck out three times. A team that strikes out more than they walk and hit combined just isn’t a recipe for success. Still, the great thing about baseball is that there is always tomorrow.

The series finale will see Bailey Ober go up against Brady Singer. Game time will be 1:10 central. I’m sure the Royals would like to avoid getting swept in their home-opening series immediately before many people cast their ballots to determine if the team will get hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding from Jackson County to fund John Sherman’s new real estate venture.

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Title: Second verse, much like the first: Royals lose 5-1
Author: Jeremy Greco

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