‘Pen falters after Junis’ impressive start

The Royals’ bullpen, which has been lights-out to start the season, ran into trouble by the name of José Ramírez on Wednesday afternoon. Cleveland’s third baseman launched two home runs off relievers Jesse Hahn and Greg Holland in the Royals’ 4-2 loss at Progressive Field, as Kansas City split the brief two-game series in Cleveland.

A scheduled bullpen game turned into somewhat of a spot start with right-hander Jakob Junis turning in five efficient scoreless innings on just 58 pitches. But Cleveland pounded Hahn in the sixth, with a leadoff single and two fielder’s-choice ground balls to put one on for Ramírez, who just missed a home run on the first pitch Hahn threw but made the second one count, sending it beyond the right-field wall to take the lead.

The Royals’ bottom of the order came through against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber in the seventh, with Kyle Isbel working a seven-pitch walk after going down 0-2; then Michael A. Taylor smoked a single into left field. That knocked Bieber, who struck out 12, from the game.

Against reliever James Karinchak, Nicky Lopez lined a single up the middle that scored Isbel and tied the game at 2, and reliever Scott Barlow worked through traffic in the seventh to keep the score tied.

In the eighth, Holland issued a leadoff walk to Ben Gamel and struck out Cesar Hernandez before hanging a slider that Ramírez launched to right field for his second homer of the day.