KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — The Royals were dressed in their usual garb for a Friday night game at Kauffman Stadium.
The familiar blue-and-white uniforms have a splash of gold, a look the Royals first sported last season as the defending World Series champions.
That’s all in the past now, of course, and the future doesn’t look bright. Particularly not after the Royals’ 8-5 loss to the Twins on Friday.
With 22 games to play in the season, the Royals are 4 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second wild-card spot in the American League. Three other teams are ahead of the Royals (69-71).
The Royals’ elimination number from the wild-card race is 18. Any combination of Twins victories and KC losses that add up to 18 will end the Royals’ playoff hopes. So Friday’s loss was a double whammy in that category. The elimination number in the AL Central is a mere seven.
Perhaps worst of all, the Royals have been treading water. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games and 25-25 over their last 50 contests.
So the Royals were in need of a spark on Friday when Ian Kennedy took the mound for his 27th start of the season. Instead, he was pulled after throwing just 55 pitches in three innings and allowing a single run in each of the first three innings.
It was the sixth time in eight appearances dating to the start of August that Kennedy had failed to pitch six innings. His ERA swelled to 5.45 for the season.
Royals manager Ned Yost said Kennedy had a shoulder issue in the second inning. “(His) shoulder tightened up. He's got some cuff fatigue and shoulder tightness.”
Royals reliever Trevor Cahill took over and also gave up three runs, but he recorded just four outs as the Twins jumped to a 6-2 lead.
The Royals dutifully chipped away at the deficit. Eric Hosmer hit his 24th homer of the season in the fourth inning. Whit Merrifield had a two-run double an inning later. Ramon Torres’ RBI single in the seventh for the Royals made it 6-5.
Unfortunately, Kelvin Herrera had another rough outing, this time in his first appearance as the former closer. The Twins’ Eduardo Escobar smoked a double to left field to open the eighth, took third after a bunt and scored on Robbie Grossman’s triple.
Yost called on Scott Alexander to replace Herrera — Royals fans have seen that before — and Alexander allowed a two-out double to Joe Mauer that made it 8-5.