KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — For the briefest moment, Cheslor Cuthbert’s return to the Royals’ 25-man roster appeared to be the solution to team’s recent malaise.
After missing a month and a half of major-league action due to a left wrist sprain, Cuthbert was recalled before Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals and immediately penciled in at third base. He went 2 for 4 with a three-run double, giving the Royals their first lead of the I-70 series in the fourth inning.
Try as he might, Cuthbert couldn’t save the Royals.
All-Star starter Jason Vargas was unable to make it out of the fifth inning, the defense suffered a few more malfunctions and the Royals ended a six-game homestand with a 10-3 loss to the Cardinals.
The most common denominator among the Royals’ mishaps on Tuesday evening was Jorge Bonifacio. The rookie right fielder made a late jump on a ball hit by the Cardinals’ Dexter Fowler in the fifth inning, allowing it to dribble toward the fence for a two-out double.
Fowler would then score on a three-run homer off the bat of Jedd Gyorko, who drilled reliever Mike Minor’s fifth pitch of the game 420 feet to left field for a 7-3 Cardinals lead.
In the seventh inning, Randal Grichuk hit a two-out single to right field with runners on first and second. Bonifacio sailed a throw over the outstretched glove of Neftali Feliz and past catcher Drew Butera at the third base line. A second run scored as Butera scurried after the errant throw. Grichuk then crossed home plate on a Matt Carpenter double.
Grichuk had set the Cardinals up in the fifth inning, dooming the Royals with a leadoff home run. Three of the next batters reached base safely.
Then Yadier Molina, who hit a leadoff home run of his own the previous inning, chopped a ground ball up the third base side that skipped high over the bag. It landed beyond Cuthbert, who dove into foul territory on the hit.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar corralled the ball just outside the infield dirt and rocketed a throw to Cuthbert at third to get the Cardinals’ Jose Martinez as he slid into the bag.
Still, two runs scored on the play. All three runs Cuthbert had driven in against the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha to give Vargas room to breathe went for naught.
Vargas was immediately replaced for Minor. The All-Star who was 12-3 with a 2.62 ERA in the first half suffered his third loss since the break. He was charged with six runs on eight hits.
As they dropped to 57-55, the Royals could at least take an ounce of comfort in the American League Wild Card race. The Boston Red Sox beat Tampa Bay, keeping the Royals and Rays neck and neck for the second spot.
The Royals will try to salvage the series with the Cardinals when it relocates to Busch Stadium in St. Louis for the final two games of the set starting Wednesday.