KC Royals got on the board early, but offense struggles in 2-1 loss to the Tigers

Kansas City Royals rookie MJ Melendez put his team ahead on the first swing of the game, but a conga line of Detroit Tigers relief pitchers held the Royals’ offense scoreless for the rest of the night.

The Tigers scratched their scheduled starting pitcher Matt Manning shortly before the start of the game due to arm fatigue, and instead turned to reliever Will Vest for his first start in the majors.

Melendez welcomed Vest by blasting a fastball to left-center field for a solo home run, but that stood as the team’s lone run in a 2-1 loss in front of an announced 12,610 in the second game of a three-game series at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

Each of the first two games in the three-game set have been decided by one run. The Tigers won on a walk-off single in the 10th inning Tuesday night.

The season series between the teams is now tied 9-9 with Thursday afternoon’s series finale set to serve as the rubber match for the year.

Melendez went 1 for 3 with a home run and two walks in the loss for the Royals (63-92).

Outfielder Edward Olivares collected three hits (3 for 5), and rookie first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino (2 for 5) and outfielder Kyle Isbel (2 for 4) also had multi-hit games.

The Royals went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base.

Royals starting pitcher Daniel Lynch (4-12) allowed just two runs, both in the first inning, on five hits and one walk in six innings. He struck out four. He earned a quality start, his first outing of six innings since August 17.

The Tigers (62-92) used seven pitchers in the game, none went more than two innings.

Melendez set a Royals rookie record for leadoff homers and made Melendez just the 10th catcher since 1920 to hit a leadoff home run (his other three were as the designated hitter or an outfielder). He has now hit 18 home runs this season.

The Tigers responded in the bottom half of the inning. Lynch struck out the first two batters he faced, but then Eric Haase swatted a two-out single. Then Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who’d been just 1 for 10 against Lynch, hit a 1-0 slider 411 feet for a two-run home run.

Lynch worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the third after a double, an error and a walk. Cabrera hit into an inning-ending double play to keep the Royals within a run, 2-1.

The Royals also failed to deliver on multiple scoring chances. They left the bases loaded in the sixth with two outs and the seventh with one out. Hunter Dozier struck out and Drew Waters grounded out to leave the bases full in the seventh, and the Royals had stranded 12 men on base at that point.

They put a man on in the eighth on a two-out walk by Melendez, but left him on base. Then in the ninth, Tigers reliever Gregory Soto recorded three consecutive outs against the middle of the Royals’ lineup — Salvador Perez, Pasquantino and Olivares — to close the game.