Kansas City Royals right-hander Carlos Hernández’s introduction to pitching in Denver was not what you’d call hospitable, and it will likely be memorable for a lot of the wrong reasons as he registered a career-high for runs allowed and tied his career-high for hits allowed in an outing.
Unlike the previous night, when the Royals’ lineup came out on top in a slugfest, the Kansas City bats weren’t able to keep up Saturday as the visitors lost 10-4 to the Colorado Rockies in front of an announced 40,534 in the second game of a three-game series at Coors Field.
The series is now evened at one game apiece, and the teams will play the rubber match on Sunday afternoon. The series finale will also mark the end of a three-city, nine-game road trip for the Royals.
Hernández allowed nine runs on eight hits, including two home runs, and three walks in four innings. He has been unable to make it through five innings in each of his last three starts, and he has allowed a combined 15 runs in his last two outings.
“Everything went wrong, and I just have to get back to work and get better,” Hernández said in Spanish with Royals assistant strength and conditioning coach/Latin American coordinator Luis Perez interpreting.
Salvador Perez and Bobby Witt Jr. crushed home runs for the Royals (11-20) in the loss. Perez’s sixth of the season moved him past former teammate Alex Gordon for the most interleague homers in franchise history.
Witt became the first Royals player to hit each of his first two career homers against National League teams. His first came against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Whit Merrifield, who played in his 500th consecutive game, had a hit, drove in a run, scored a run and stole a base. The steal, his fifth of the season, tied Merrifield with Carlos Beltran for seventh place among the franchise’s all-time leaders (164 steals).
The Rockies (17-16) scored in each of the first three innings against Hernández, including two runs in the first inning on Charlie Blackmon’s two-run homer. Hernández walked the first batter of the inning, one of three leadoff walks he issued in the game.
“It’s a tough place to pitch, we know that going into this,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “You make it harder for yourself with the free bases. Walks usually come back and bite you. We had three leadoff walks, they all scored. Leadoff single also scored. So you’re just putting yourself up against a wall.
“We’re alright when you challenge and give up hits — you’re going to give those up. But the free bases are tough because they turn into crooked numbers and they turn into big innings. He did a nice job of keeping himself in the game. We needed it. The bullpen has been used up a lot.”
A walk by Sam Hilliard started the second inning for the Rockies, and he went first-to-third on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly to put the Royals in a three-run hole.
The Royals responded and tied the score in the top of the third. Michael A. Taylor mashed a leadoff triple off the right field wall to kick-start the inning. Taylor has gone 5 for 11 with two runs scored, a double and a triple in his last three games.
Merrifield’s RBI single got the Royals into the scoring column, and Perez tied the score 3-3 with first homer since April 22. Perez has now gone 9 for 29 (.310) in his last seven games.
The tie last long as Hernández gave up four runs in the bottom half of the inning, including a three-run homer by Hilliard.
“Definitely,” Hernández said when asked if location was the main problem he dealt with. “The two home runs were not where I wanted them, and they got hit.”
Hernández said he wasn’t thinking about Coors Field’s reputation as a hitter-friendly ballpark or how pitchers have historically had troubles in that environment. He said his focus was on controlling what he could control and competing.
The Royals only other run came on Witt’s solo homer in the seventh, but the Royals were down 9-4 at that point.
Royals relief pitcher Ronald Bolaños pitched four innings in relief of Hernández and allowed one run on two hits and two walks. The run came courtesy of a Ryan McMahon solo homer in the seventh inning. Bolaños also struck out four.
“That saved us,” Matheny said of Bolaños’ outing. “It was really impressive too. I thought he looked really good. He had the one home run, besides that he made good pitches. He’s got great stuff. … It was a good outing, and we needed somebody to come in there and clean that up for us.”
The Royals are in a stretch of 19 games in 17 days, and they’ve still got 11 games in 10 days before their next day off. Having been short one starting pitcher in Texas, they had a bullpen day on the mound in which five relievers (including Kris Bubic) pitched in Wednesday’s game.
— Bally Sports Kansas City (@BallySportsKC) May 15, 2022
Witt passes his old man
Witt’s second career home run means he’s now passed his father’s home run total.
Witt Sr. played 16 years in the majors as a pitcher, 11 seasons with the Texas Rangers. But Witt Sr. hit one home run during interleague play against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1997, before Witt Jr. was born.
“Yeah, it’s always good to just kind of beat him in something, because he has so much on me right now,” Witt Jr. said. “But it’s good to have bragging rights right now.”