Orioles recap: Yovani Gallardo leaves early with shoulder discomfort as Royals beat Birds 4-2

The Orioles’ rotation issues grew deeper on Friday night as right-hander Yovani Gallardo left the team's 4-2 loss to the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals after just two innings because of shoulder discomfort.

Gallardo will see team orthopedist Dr. Mike Jacobs in Baltimore on Saturday. 

Gallardo -- who was signed to a restructured two-year, $22-million deal this spring after there were concerns about his shoulder during his club physical -- said he first felt discomfort while warming in the bullpen for Friday's start.

"My shoulder just didn't feel right," Gallardo said. "To be honest, it was one of those feelings that I’ve never had my whole career.

"I’ve never had any issues with my shoulder and I hadn’t been," Gallardo added. "For some reason, in the bullpen it just didn't feel right. I wasn’t able to extend to get that release point. I think that’s why the ball was just up and all over the place. Felt like the ball was coming out of my hand and the strength wasn’t there. Hopefully it wasn't anything serious." 

Gallardo left Friday’s game at Kauffman Stadium after throwing just 45 pitches. The Royals scored four runs off Gallardo, plating three of those runs just five batters into the game.

It marked Gallardo’s shortest start since April 27, 2012, when he allowed eight runs over two innings while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers against the St. Louis Cardinals

Gallardo fell behind quickly, 3-0 in the first inning as four of the first five batters he faced reached base. In fact, he trailed 2-0 just two pitches into the game as leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar singled on the first pitch he saw and third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a first-pitch delivery over the center-field fence for his sixth homer of the season.

Lorenzo Cain followed with a single, and two batters later he scored on Kendrys Morales’ RBI double.

The Royals scored another run off Gallardo in the second. After retiring the first two batters he faced that inning, Gallardo walked Escobar on five pitches and allowed a run-scoring double to Moustakas.

"Just didn’t feel right like the previous starts in spring and the season," Gallardo said. "I tried to go out there and hopefully it went away, but as the game went on it just kept getting a little bit worse and worse each and every pitch that I made. It’s just one of those things, it sucks. Try to go out there, not put the guys in a bad situation."

Gallardo has failed to get into the sixth inning in 17 of his last 20 starts dating back to last July 7. Gallardo's fastball velocity has incrementally declined over his career and his fastball averaged three miles less than last year's to 87.4 mph. But Gallardo touched 90 in his last start in Texas, a sign he was picking up arm strength.

"He’s a tick below, definitely a tick below," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Everybody knows that. ... He’s a couple ticks below, but a lot of guys as they get on in their career start off that way and pick up as the season goes on. He touched 90 two or three times the last time out in Texas, so we were hoping it would be a little bit better this time, but it wasn’t. ... I’ve done all the looks at his average velocity in April and May. Every start I’ve looked at them. He’s down."

Gallardo also admitted to being frustrated because he thought he made progress in his last start. 

"My my last start in Texas was the best stuff that I’ve had since the season started," Gallardo said. "Pretty good command of the fastball and then something like this happens. It’s just one of those things, the most important thing is stay positive and see what happens when I see the doctor [on Saturday]."

"It’s definitely frustrating," he added. "The last start I had in Texas, made it into the seventh inning, started to feel that rhythm and then something like this happens."

Machado keeps rolling

The Orioles had few offensive highlights on Friday, but third baseman Manny Machado continued his red-hot start to the season, extending his career-high hitting streak to 15 games with a solo homer in the sixth inning off Royals starter Chris Young.

Machado opened the inning taking a 1-1 pitch from Young over the center field fence for his sixth homer of the season. Machado has homered in three of his last five games and has recorded an extra-base hit in each of his past six games.

McFarland gives Orioles length

Left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland was likely going to get work if the Orioles needed long relief help, and they did after Gallardo’s short outing.

McFarland threw five shutout innings in relief of Gallardo, allowing just three hits while striking out one and issuing no walks.  

He threw 66 pitches on the night, the most he’s thrown in relief since June 8, 2014.

McFarland entered the game in the third inning to face a lefty-heavy portion of a Royals batting order that included four lefties and a switch hitter. McFarland will now likely be optioned on Saturday to make room to activate left-hander Brian Matusz off the disabled list.

Young miffs Orioles bats

Royals starter Chris Young struck out 10 Orioles hitters over six innings, matching his strikeout total for his first three starts of the season combined.

The soft-tossing 36-year-old right-hander entered the night with a 7.90 ERA on the season, but has pitched well against the Orioles. He is 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA in six appearances against the Orioles, and recorded consecutive starts of seven scoreless innings against the O’s -- starts that were nine years apart (2005 with the Rangers and 2014 with the Mariners).

eencina@baltsun.com

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