Jul 8, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) singles during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals 9th inning Rally falls One Run Short

The Kansas City Royals failed to continue their momentum from James Shields‘ strong start Monday, and fell to the Rays 4-3 Tuesday night at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay.

Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson was strong in his season debut, but Tampa manager Joe Maddon pulled him after 84 pitches in favor of Brad Boxberger, who earned the win (2-1).

The Royals only scored 1 run most of the way, until a 9th inning 2-run rally fell just short. Reliever Francisley Bueno gave up two key insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th. Rays closer Jake McGee needed all of the 3-run cushion to earn his 6th save after allowing Salvador Perez to drive in 2 runs on a single.

The loss drops Kansas City to 46-43, and 4.5 games behind first place Detroit in the American League Central.

On the Mound

Jason Vargas was actually pretty good Tuesday night even though he left after only 5.2 innings trailing 2-1. Vargas surrendered 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 earned runs (both in the bottom of the 6th after giving up 3 consecutive hits).

Aaron Crow entered in the 6th to retire the final batter of the inning with runners on 1st and 2nd. He pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing no hits or walks.

Francisley Bueno failed to keep the lead to 1 run after allowing 2 runs in the 8th in what turned out to be a critical blow that probably lost the game (despite Vargas getting tagged for the loss).

At the Plate

Overall, the Royals offense only managed to score 3 runs on 13 hits and 2 walks. They constantly failed with runners on base inning after inning. They trailed 2-1 after Tampa’s 2 run rally in the 6th, until their breakthrough for 2 runs in the 9th.

It wasn’t enough.

Lorenzo Cain was terrific, going 4-4 with 3 singles, a triple,, 1 walk, and 2 runs scored.

Salvador Perez drove in all 3 Kansas City runs with his timely single in the 9th and his groundout to shortstop to score Lorenzo Cain in the 5th. Perez went 1-5 on the day with 1 single, and 3 RBIs.

Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and Omar Infante all had 2 hits, with Hosmer adding a double and walk to get on base 3 times.

This and That

Hellickson made his 2014 season debut after elbow surgery in January. Rays manager Joe Maddon was rightfully cautious with Hellickson, allowing him only 84 pitches before pulling him.

Alex Gordon made a rare lazy play in the 6th inning, failing to hustle while fielding Brandon Guyer‘s hit to left which allowed Guyer to stretch his single into a double. The miscue proved significant when Guyer scored on Evan Longoria‘s 2-run single to right. Not only did the sloppy play cost the Royals the lead, being down 2-1 meant Ned Yost would not bring setup man Wade Davis into the game.

That lapse allowed the Rays to get two runs off Bueno, which proved costly after Kansas City’s 9th inning rally fell just short. Even one of the best defensive players in baseball makes a bad play on occasion.

KC Kingdom Player of the Game

Lorenzo Cain had a terrific game after getting on base 5 times, including a tirple in the 7th inning and 1 walk. Four hits and 1 walk in 5 plate appearances is a dream day for a leadoff hitter, especially when you consider that he also added his 11th stolen base of the season.

The Rays

LF Brandon Guyer went 3-4 on the day, with two singles, his hustle double, and scored 2 runs. Noticing Alex Gordon‘s rare lazy pickup in left was the key play that turned around the game for the Rays.

Up Next

The Royals finish their 3 game series in Tampa before heading to Detroit for a 4-game showdown just before the All-Star break. Kansas City will send Yordano Ventura (6-7, 3.07 ERA) to the mound against Alex Cobb (4-6, 4.28 ERA) for Tampa Bay. This is when the Royals need to start a 5-game winning streak to put them right into contention. Game time is 6:10 CST at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay.

Box

Royals Batting AB R H RBI BB SO PA BA OBP SLG OPS Pit
Lorenzo Cain CF-RF 4 2 4 0 1 0 5 .322 .359 .450 .809 21
Eric Hosmer 1B 4 1 2 0 1 1 5 .259 .304 .357 .661 21
Salvador Perez C 5 0 1 3 0 1 5 .282 .328 .435 .763 24
   Christian Colon PR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .778 1.111
Alex Gordon LF 5 0 1 0 0 1 5 .268 .348 .425 .772 20
Omar Infante 2B 5 0 2 0 0 1 5 .265 .307 .377 .684 13
Mike Moustakas 3B 4 0 1 0 0 0 4 .193 .258 .377 .635 20
Billy Butler DH 4 0 2 0 0 0 4 .269 .323 .344 .667 12
Raul Ibanez RF 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 .154 .245 .266 .511 13
   Danny Valencia PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .293 .333 .413 .746 2
   Jarrod Dyson CF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .298 .354 .351 .705
Alcides Escobar SS 4 0 0 0 0 2 4 .287 .325 .395 .720 19
Team Totals 39 3 13 3 2 6 41 .333 .366 .410 .776 165

2B: E Hosmer (24, off J McGee).
3B: L Cain (3, off G Balfour).
TB: L Cain 6; E Hosmer 3; B Butler 2; O Infante 2; A Gordon; S Perez; M Moustakas.
GIDP: M Moustakas (4).
RBI: S Perez 3 (32).
Team LOB: 11.
With RISP: 2 for 12.
Baserunning
SB: L Cain (11, 2nd base off J Hellickson/R Hanigan).

Rays Batting AB R H RBI BB SO PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Desmond Jennings CF 3 0 0 0 1 1 4 .246 .335 .393 .728
Ben Zobrist SS 4 1 1 0 0 0 4 .268 .349 .408 .757
Brandon Guyer LF 4 2 3 0 0 0 4 .264 .313 .364 .677
Evan Longoria 3B 4 1 1 2 0 0 4 .263 .339 .397 .736
James Loney 1B 4 0 2 1 0 0 4 .280 .332 .382 .713
Logan Forsythe 2B 3 0 0 1 0 1 4 .239 .289 .339 .628
Sean Rodriguez DH 3 0 1 0 1 1 4 .243 .291 .507 .798
Ryan Hanigan C 3 0 0 0 1 1 4 .212 .309 .327 .636
Kevin Kiermaier RF 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 .278 .314 .542 .855
Team Totals 32 4 8 4 3 4 36 .250 .306 .344 .649

2B: S Rodriguez (8, off J Vargas); B Guyer (9, off J Vargas); J Loney (20, off F Bueno).
SF: L Forsythe (3, off F Bueno).
TB: B Guyer 4; J Loney 3; S Rodriguez 2; E Longoria; B Zobrist.
RBI: E Longoria 2 (42); L Forsythe (14); J Loney (44).
Team LOB: 8.
With RISP: 2 for 6.
Fielding
DP: 1. E Longoria-L Forsythe-J Loney.

Royals Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA Pit Str
Jason Vargas, L (8-4) 5.2 6 2 2 2 3 0 3.31 109 62
Aaron Crow 1.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2.45 12 9
Francisley Bueno 1 2 2 2 1 1 0 1.98 23 11
Team Totals 8 8 4 4 3 4 0 4.50 144 82
Rays Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA Pit Str
Jeremy Hellickson 4.1 6 1 1 1 2 0 2.08 84 54
Brad Boxberger, W (2-1) 1.2 1 0 0 0 1 0 2.57 20 14
Grant Balfour, H (5) 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 4.93 21 13
Joel Peralta, H (12) 0.2 2 0 0 0 0 0 3.82 14 9
Jake McGee, S (6) 1.1 3 2 2 0 2 0 1.58 26 18
Team Totals 9 13 3 3 2 6 0 3.00 165 108

Balks: None.
WP: J Hellickson (1).
HBP: None.
IBB: None.
Pickoffs: None.

Tags: Alex Gordon Jason Vargas Jeremy Hellickson Kansas City Royals Lorenzo Cain Salvador Perez

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