Kansas City Royals

Royals bullpen woes return in one-run loss to White Sox

The bullpen trials and tribulations reared their head again for the Royals after a brief respite.

The Royals coughed up one-run lead in the eighth inning en route to a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox in front of an announced 12,553 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday night. The Royals (5-11) have now lost seven games when leading after the sixth inning or later, and they’ve lost six games by one run.

The loss snapped a three-game win streak and started a 10-game road swing for the Royals that will also include series against the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.

Royals manager Ned Yost has tried to sustain a positive public outlook on the bullpen’ struggles, but he let some of his frustration show when asked if he thought about where the team might be if they’d closed out a few more games.

“What good does it do me? What are the numbers, seven times we’ve had leads in seventh inning on and we’ve (lost),” Yost said. “Yeah, of course I’m doing (the math). You know, of course I am. (Pitching coach) Cal (Eldred) is working diligently. (Bullpen coach) Vance Wilson is working diligently to try to get some of these guys settled down a little bit so that that’s not the case.”

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For the second time in five days, Brad Boxberger (0-3) gave up a late lead in a tight game. Unlike Thursday’s loss in Kansas City when Boxberger was the victim of unfortunate circumstances that included windy conditions and Billy Hamilton having collided with the outfield wall, this one fell on Boxberger’s ability to execute pitches.

“I couldn’t get the pitches where I wanted to today,” Boxberger said.

With a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning, Boxberger gave up a double off the left-field wall to Tim Anderson, and then a two-run home run to the next batter, Wellington Castillo, as the White Sox took a 5-4 lead.

“(I’m) unbelievably frustrated,” Boxberger said. “Every outing this year has kind of been a different one for me, a lot of feeling around, trying to figure out what’s going on. I’ll just try to go out there to tomorrow and work on some more mechanical stuff and get back to where I know I can be.”

A three-run second inning that featured a solo home run by Hunter Dozier and a two-run homer by Chris Owings gave the Royals the early lead, but the White Sox answered with a three-run fifth inning that included a pair of replay reversals that wiped out apparent double plays.

One of the reversals overturned a double play on a diving catch by Gold Glove winning left fielder Alex Gordon, who alertly leapt to his feet and uncorked a one-hop throw to try to double up the runner at first base.

The second overturned call, an attempted second base to shortstop to first base double play, allowed the first run to score. All three runs off Royals starter Heath Fillmyer came after the second overturned call.

The Royals took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh without a hit. Hamilton’s leadoff walk turned into a three-base mistake.

Hamilton stole second base, and the errant throw from the catcher allowed Hamilton to advance to third with no outs and Whit Merrifield batting. Merrifield’s sac fly to right field scored Hamilton.

Hamilton returned to the starting lineup for the first time since spraining his left knee when he hit the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday.

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.