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Long Ball Continues to Give Lyles, Royals Grief

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By Anne Rogers, MLB.com/Royals

 

SEATTLE, Wash. – The Royals and Mariners had played some wacky, close and competitive games in 2023.

Saturday was the complete opposite.

The Mariners routed the Royals, 15-2, at T-Mobile Park to hand Kansas City its 90th defeat of the season and a series loss with one more game remaining on this road trip.

Seattle, atop the American League West standings and barreling down the stretch toward October baseball, flexed plenty of power Saturday, crushing seven home runs — at least one off all five of the Royals pitchers, including infielder Matt Duffy in the bottom of the eighth inning.

“We got our brains beat in today, and we’ll be back here tomorrow,” manager Matt Quatraro said.

After two scoreless innings to begin the game, Seattle jumped on Royals starter Jordan Lyles for seven runs in the third, when the Mariners batted around and hit the first three of their home runs.

Lyles is dangerously close to setting a new Royals record for home runs allowed. Darrell May gave up 38 in 2004 while losing 19 games; Lyles has surrendered 33 home runs — second most in the Majors — in 25 starts while losing 15 games.

Seven of those have come from the Mariners in two starts, after Lyles allowed four in the fourth inning last week in Kansas City.

“Today, I think it was the command,” Quatraro said. “He got behind, walked those couple guys. You give up a solo homer, it’s different than obviously today being the grand slam. So that’s where most of it comes from, I think, is just not being fine with his command.”

Josh Rojas led off the bottom of the third with a home run, and Lyles lost it from there. J.P. Crawford doubled, and Lyles issued one-out walks to Eugenio Suárez and Cal Raleigh to load the bases for Teoscar Hernández.

“Suárez put a good [plate appearance] together, which is OK — it’s not great, but first and second with Raleigh, we’re out of the inning,” said Lyles. “And then Raleigh put a good [plate appearance] together. And then, obviously, you saw what happened next.”

Hernández hammered a sinker over the left-field wall for a grand slam. Mike Ford followed two batters later with a two-run shot before Lyles struck out Rojas to end the frame.

“They hit him,” Quatraro said. “The two walks certainly didn’t help. But overall, they got to him in that inning. … It was a really rough inning all around.”

This has been a trend for Lyles the entire season. He’s allowed at least three runs in a single frame in 14 of his 25 starts (15 instances) and has been charged with 61 runs (58 earned) in those 15 frames — that’s over half of the runs he’s allowed all season.

“If I knew that answer, you wouldn’t be asking it,” Lyles said when asked what has led to the big innings this season. “I probably have to simplify things and be in the zone just a little bit more aggressively. We’ll look at the film and see where we can improve. But I understand what you’re saying, those big innings have cost me and us this year.”

That all has led to a 6.51 ERA in Lyles’ first season in Kansas City, where he signed a two-year, $17.5 million deal this past offseason. He was acquired for his ability to eat innings, but the cost of that has been a 3-15 record and the Royals losing 22 of his 25 starts.

Lyles threw 46 pitches in the third inning, and that was one more than Mariners starter Logan Gilbert threw in his first four innings. The Royals struck out seven times against Gilbert in seven innings, his only mistake coming in the fifth inning to Drew Waters, who crushed a low fastball a Statcast-projected 403 feet to right field.

But the Royals’ offense was in too deep of a hole to come back, and the bullpen did not quiet the Mariners. Jackson Kowar walked three and allowed four runs on three hits in two innings. Angel Zerpa allowed a homer in the sixth. Tucker Davidson gave up a two-run blast in the seventh.

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