Kansas City Royals lead Miami Marlins 4-0 early, go on to lose 9-6 (it wasn’t pretty)

Rich Storry/USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals attempted to mortgage a four-run lead on the success of “bulk” pitcher Mike Mayers on Monday night. But the Miami Marlins denied another profitable transaction at LoanDepot Park.

Mayers, who entered with a sterling 1.35 ERA, was tagged for seven runs (six earned) in relief as the Royals blew a 4-0 lead and lost 9-6.

Mayers allowed nine hits across three innings. It was a stark difference from his last relief appearance, when he nearly helped throw a perfect game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I thought I made some qualities pitches there early and they either took them or put the barrel to the ball,” Mayers said. “They had a good approach against me and it can’t happen.”

The Marlins quickly erased KC’s four-run advantage. They scored nine straight runs before Maikel Garcia finally snapped the streak with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.

“They squared him up pretty good,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “He didn’t back down and he was throwing a lot of strikes. Just struggled to get swing and miss.”

The Marlins got major contributions from superstar Luis Arraez and infielder Jon Berti. Arraez went 3-for-4 and had two RBIs. He hit a two-run double in the third inning to cut the early deficit in half. Later, he provided an RBI single to aid the Marlins’ comeback.

Berti added a two-run triple and Bryan De La Cruz blasted a two-run homer to put the game out of reach.

The Royals’ defense didn’t provide any favors. And it was an especially tough night for center fielder Drew Waters. In the fifth inning, he misplayed a routine fly ball with two outs. He appeared to lose sight of the baseball in the lights.

“The communication on the popup was unfortunate,” Quatraro said. “That cost us directly. Then, he goes to third on wild pitch and scores on the single. That’s an add-on run there. Every run you give up, that is one more you’ve got to chase.”

The Marlins took advantage as Yuli Gurriel raced to second base. Mayers then threw a wild pitch to advance Gurriel to third, and Gurriel soon scored on a single by Nick Fortes.

The Royals (18-42) committed two errors Monday. After scoring four runs, they fell behind and couldn’t recover.

“They hit the ball hard and you’ve got to tip your cap to them,” Quatraro said.

Here are some highlights from the game ...

Nick Pratto hits fourth homer of season

The Royals have found a solution atop their lineup.

Nick Pratto continues to thrive in the leadoff role with impressive at-bats. Entering Monday’s game, he was hitting .257 (9-for-35) with nine starts in the leadoff position.

He added to those numbers against the Marlins, going 2-for-4 and belting his fourth home run of the season off Marlins starter Braxton Garrett.

“He made a mistake over the plate with two strikes and I was able to recognize it and put it in play hard,” Pratto said.

In the third inning, Pratto drilled a 83.3 mph slider into the outfield seats. The homer traveled 407 feet and had a 102 mph exit velocity. It extended the Royals’ lead to 3-0.

“I feel like I have gotten a few more pitches to hit being in that leadoff spot,” Pratto said. “That fluctuates as the season goes on. It’s how the game goes.”

Pratto has started to find a rhythm. He hit his second homer in three days.

“I had a little skid there where I had some hard-hit outs,” he said. “At the same time, guys were executing. It’s one of those things you have to ride out until you get some pitches to hit.”

Hometown kid: MJ Melendez returns to Miami

Royals outfielder MJ Melendez had some friends and family in attendance at LoanDepot Park on Monday.

And Melendez, who played at nearby Westminster Christian School, turned in a signature performance in front of the hometown faithful.

Melendez went 2-for-3 with an RBI double. In the first inning, he drove home Pratto with a line drive into the left-field gap. The double registered a 99.8 mph exit velocity and gave the Royals an early lead.

“It was pretty cool being in Miami,” Melendez said. “This was my first time playing here in a MLB game. It was really exciting and I had a blast.”

In the third inning, Melendez hit an RBI single. He later collected his second steal, swiping second off Miami’s Huascar Brazoban.

“I am trying to find my groove and I feel like I’m starting to pick up on that,” Melendez said. “Just letting the at-bats turn over and trying to build on the positive things.”

What’s next: The Royals continue their three-game series against the Marlins on Tuesday. Zack Greinke will pitch for KC against Miami’s Jesus Luzardo. KC’s Jordan Lyles will oppose Edward Cabrera for Wednesday’s series finale.