The Kansas City Royals continued their dominance over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, winning by a 6-3 margin. Kansas City is an AL best 80-49 on the season, and 6-0 against Tampa Bay. Ever the relentless bunch, four of the Royals six runs came with two outs.
Tampa Bay looked to break through the 0-0 deadlock with two outs in the bottom of the third. Kevin Kiermaier reached on an infield hit, Rene Rivera was hit in the wrist then mouth with a pitch (he received attention from the training staff and was able to stay in the game), and Daniel Nava worked a walk to load the bases, bringing Evan Longoria to the plate. In spite of the opportunity to kick down the door, Longoria went down swinging on a fastball to end the inning. The missed opportunity proved costly.
The Royals broke the scoreless bout in the top of the fourth inning, after Lorenzo Cain drew a leadoff walk and Eric Hosmer doubled to left center. Kendrys Morales followed with a hard liner to Asdrubal Cabrera for what should have been an unassisted double play. However, the ball fell to the dirt when Cabrera started running toward second before securing it. The error put runners at the corners for Mike Moustakas, who hit a double to right for a two-run lead. Odorizzi settled down and retired the next three batters without a run scoring. That the righty tossed 28 pitches in the inning took its toll.
The Rays immediately rallied in the bottom of the inning to take the lead against Medlen. John Jaso doubled to right-center to start the rally, and he moved to third on a Logan Forsythe groundout. Cabrera singled home Jaso to make it a one run contest. James Loney flew out, but Kevin Kiermaier — on his action figure night — homered to right-center for the lead. Kansas City’s pitching staff hunkered down and didn’t allow a runner past first from then on.
The lead was also short-lived, as the Royals answered right back. Alcides Escobar walked to lead off the frame, though Ben Zobrist hit a fly ball for the first out. Then Cain walked, yet Eric Hosmer went down swinging for the second out. But with runners on first and second, Morales singled home Escobar, and Moustakas chased Odorizzi by hitting a big RBI double that allowed the Royals to regain the lead, changing the complexion of the game. It was the third straight game where a Rays starter was knocked out before the end of the fifth inning. Too, as it stands, in 10 of the last 14 innings where the Rays have scored, the opposition has immediately answered; an ugly trend that now seems par for the course for Tampa Bay.
After Escobar reached on a sixth inning, one-out error to Cabrera — his second of the night — Kansas City scored an unearned run in against Steve Geltz. Escobar stole his way into scoring position before Cain singled him home. That gave the Royals 26 two-out runs against the Rays this year. As if fate would have it, they made it 27 when Moustakas singled home a run against Enny Romero with two outs in the ninth. Romero tossed 2-2/3 scoreless innings previous to that point.
The New What Next
Sound the horn, as with the series prior, the Rays will look to avoid a sweep Sunday afternoon in the series finale. Nathan Karns (7-5, 3.69 ERA) will take the mound for Tampa Bay, opposite of Danny Duffy (7-6, 4.13 ERA). Karns’ starts have alternated between good and bad since August 14, and his last outing lasted just three innings. Karns is 5-2/3 innings away from matching his career high as a professional. The 26-year-old Duffy allowed two runs on five hits in 5-2/3 innings against the Orioles on Tuesday, picking up the win in a 3-2 Royals’ victory. He is 5-2 with a 3.03 ERA in his past 10 starts. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 8/30/15 Starting Lineup
— Interesting lineup today, with both catchers in the game lineup today with both catchers in the game (Rivera behind plate, Arencibia as DH).
— With 12 triples and 13 outfield assists, Kevin Kiermaier is the first outfielder to reach double digits in both categories in the same season since Carlos Beltran (2001, with Kansas City).
— Expanding on something I wrote yesterday, the Rays are expected add another catcher — either Justin O’Conner, who is on the 40-man roster, or Luke Maile, who is not — when the rosters expand Tuesday. Richie Shaffer and Mikie Mahtook are also slated to return. LHP Blake Snell may receive his first big-league call-up as well.
The team expects two waves of call-ups: Tuesday and September 8, the day after Durham’s season ends.
LHP Matt Moore, who is is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts since returning to Durham, is also expected.
I think there is potential for all of that, Cash said. We’re still not ready to announce anything. We know how important Matt Moore is to this organization, not only right now, but going forward, and the innings build up. We need Matt to pitch.
Moore has fanned 43 batters and walked just eight in 30 innings.