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Royals can’t back Sparkman’s strong start

Royals.comJune 9, 2019

KANSAS CITY — For the second straight day, the Royals got an outing from their starter that was worthy of victory.

But again Sunday, right-hander Glenn Sparkman, who has been a pleasant addition to the rotation, was outdueled by White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez in Chicago’s 5-2 victory at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals have lost eight of nine, and have not won a series since April 12-14 when they swept the Indians.

Sparkman kept the Royals close, giving up just two earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. He gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out two.

“We didn’t have the offense,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You break it down, a really, really good outing for him. Really good stuff. Really good action on his pitches. Command, we still need to work on. He misfired a lot with his pitches, but he misfired in the zone, which was good.

“Really good stuff. A lot of really good movement on his pitches. Pretty good outing for him. Kept us in the ballgame. Definitely gave us a chance to win.”

Sparkman, perhaps, wasn’t as impressed with his outing.

“I definitely felt good,” he said. “The team played well. I just left a couple curveballs up. And it’s definitely something to work off of.”

Sparkman gave up a monstrous home run to Eloy Jimenez in the second inning on a hanging curveball — Statcast estimated it traveled 471 feet, the longest home run at Kauffman Stadium this season.

Sparkman was nicked for an unearned run in the inning as well, but then shut down the White Sox until the seventh inning when Yoan Moncada served a two-out RBI liner into left-center field. That gave Chicago a 3-1 lead.

And that run is what bothered Yost and Sparkman the most. Both were looking to pitch away from Moncada and take a chance with the righty-on-righty matchup with Jose Abreu.

“I was trying to go down into the dirt and it just came up on me and left it up for him,” Sparkman said. “I just wanted to get around him, but I let him drive something deep into the gaps. I take it pretty hard. I don’t want that to happen.”

The Royals scored in the fourth on Jorge Soler’s 17th home run this season, another impressive smash that Statcast estimated at 445 feet over the fountains in left-center.

But the Royals struck out 11 times Sunday, a growing and disturbing trend for a team that started the season with a put-the-ball-in-play approach. They have struck out 10 or more times in five of the six games on the homestand.

“What we’re doing right now is we’re striking out a bunch,” Yost said. “But they’re not on strikes generally. They’re on pitches down below the zone. The curveball’s giving us a bit of a problem here lately, and we keep swinging at them.”

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