KANSAS CITY — Royals closer Kelvin Herrera has been virtually perfect this season, allowing one run in 16 appearances and sporting an 0.61 ERA entering Tuesday’s ninth inning.
But Herrera was nicked for three singles, the last an RBI hit by the Rays’ Joey Wendle that was the deciding run in the Royals’ 6-5 loss at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals have lost four straight and six of seven.
With runners on first and second and two out, Herrera threw a changeup down and away to Wendle, who lined it to the left of left fielder Alex Gordon, who had no realistic chance at throwing out Johnny Field at the plate.
Royals manager Ned Yost agreed, saying: “The ball that Wendle hit I thought was a pretty good pitch right there. Kel’s really been throwing the ball well for us.”
The bigger issue has been too many erratic starts from the rotation — three starters got tagged for nine runs each in the last six days — and on Tuesday, right-hander Ian Kennedy gave up three quick runs in the first.
After throwing 34 pitches in the first inning, Kennedy did give Yost some length. Kennedy wound up going six frames, permitting seven hits and five earned runs. He walked three and struck out six, throwing 101 pitches.
Whit Merrifield collected two hits and three RBIs for the Royals.