KANSAS CITY — The Royals’ rotation certainly has had a rough time lately, with three starters giving up nine earned runs each over the past seven days.
But left-hander Eric Skoglund restored some order Monday, going 7 2/3 innings — the longest outing of his career — and giving up seven hits and two earned runs in a 2-1 loss to the Rays. He walked none and struck out four.
The deciding run came when the Rays’ Adeiny Hechavarria barreled through a stop sign rounding third in the sixth inning and managed to avoid a tag at home by catcher Salvador Perez after a single by Matt Duffy. The throw from right fielder Jorge Soler was on time — and it was clocked at 97 mph per Statcast™ — but was just a hair up the line.
Hechavarria went behind Perez to avoid the tag, then crawled back to the plate and virtually played pattycake with Perez before slipping his right hand to the plate ahead of Perez’s tag.
The Royals missed a chance in the ninth to tie it when Jon Jay tripled to left with one out. But Ryan Goins struck out on three pitches, and Alex Gordon grounded out to end the game.
Whit Merrifield jumped on a two-seam fastball from left-hander Ryan Yarbrough in the third inning and belted it into the Rays’ bullpen beyond the left-field fence to tie the score at 1. It was Merrifield’s fourth home run this season and traveled a projected 370 feet per Statcast™.