KANSAS CITY — Sunday looked painfully familiar for the Royals.
For the second straight game, in a span of less than 24 hours, a nightmarish seventh inning sunk the Royals, this time in an 11-5 loss to the Mets in the rubber game of the series at Kauffman Stadium.
On Saturday, the Mets broke a 1-1 tie with two runs off the Royals’ bullpen, aided by a hit-by-pitch and a 75 mph grounder that plated two runs.
It was worse this time. The Royals took a 4-3 lead behind six solid innings from starter Glenn Sparkman and a three-run rally in the fifth, the go-ahead run coming on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Dozier.
Right-hander Kevin McCarthy took over for the Royals in the seventh and gave up a bloop double down the right-field line to Todd Frazier. After a sacrifice bunt, pinch-hitter J.D. Davis slapped a single to right field, tying the game at 4.
“[The double] just falls in,” McCarthy said. “They get the bunt over, infield in and it just unravels from there. Infield in doesn’t work out a whole lot.”
Then came the Mets’ hit parade: Double. Single. Pitching change. Single. Double. Single. Single.
“I’m trying to pitch to contact always,” McCarthy said. “I didn’t throw many pitches. It kind of happened quick. It is what it is. Ground balls find holes sometimes.
“As a sinkerballer, you try not to worry about results. But results matter up here. It’s always in the back of your mind, but you’ve just got to get past it and keep trying to get ground balls. It’s what I do.”
The last four hits came off left-hander Richard Lovelady, who didn’t record an out. When the dust settled, the Mets had a six-run seventh that gave them a 9-4 lead.
“They just struggled to get outs,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “[McCarthy] came in and a couple of well-placed hits. We just couldn’t get anybody out.”
Sparkman gave up three runs through six innings, all coming when Michael Conforto jacked a three-run homer on a changeup down and in in the first.
“I was trying to go away with it,” Sparkman said. “It came in, and left-handers really love to drop that barrel on balls down and in.”
Yost had no hesitation taking Sparkman out after six innings.
“The problem that I’m running into is that a few nights ago,” Yost said, “[Brad] Keller had a no-hitter going through six and I let him go back out and he gives up a run, and then I bring in a reliever and they give up Keller’s [inherited] runners. Last night, same thing with [Jakob Junis]. I try to get him through the seventh, and they come in and give up his [inherited] runs.
“So, today I decide to give the bullpen a clean inning. … Let’s let the relievers with a one-run lead to have that clean inning, and then get to [Scott] Barlow in the eighth and [Ian] Kennedy in the ninth. It just didn’t work.”