This wasn’t what Royals manager Mike Matheny envisioned in his team’s first “bullpen game.”
Kansas City, which even back in Spring Training didn’t have a set fifth starter, is also missing rotation pieces Brad Keller and Jakob Junis — both on the injured list with COVID-19 related issues.
So Matheny turned to Ronald Bolaños, acquired from the Padres on July 16, to start Sunday’s game at Progressive Field as more or less an opener. Bolaños gave up two unearned runs in two innings, but the rest of the Royals’ bullpen faltered in a 9-2 loss to Cleveland.
The Indians took the opening 2020 series, two games to one.
Following Bolaños were right-hander Jorge López and left-hander Gabe Speier, both of whom had mirrored outings: three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
The two runs charged to Speier came in when reliever Kevin McCarthy left a fastball up to José Ramírez, who belted a three-run homer to right in the fourth inning, giving Cleveland a commanding 7-1 lead. Ramírez turned on another in the sixth, all but putting the game out of reach for the Royals’ offense, which mustered just six hits, including a pair of RBI knocks from Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield.