Look at it this way: The Royals got the opportunity to measure themselves this week against the American League’s best team – and see just how far they have to go.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
They also got three losses in four games after falling 5-4 loss to the Texas Rangers in 10 innings Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. That makes successive one-run losses after splitting the first two games.
“You can just tell from the way they play out there,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said, “they’re relaxed and having fun. They’ve got that confidence that when the game gets down to the late innings, they’re going to get a big hit and win the game.”
They did. And they did.
This one stung a little more for the Royals because they built an early 3-0 lead for Luke Hochevar before seeing the Rangers erase that edge in a span of three batters with two homers in the fourth inning.
“You can’t make mistakes on them,” manager Ned Yost said. “They do a lot of damage with the home run. They’re geared for it. They’ve got an attack-type offense, where they look for quick strikes. You make a mistake, and they get them.”
Then it was back-and-forth before the Rangers got the final word – by roughly an inch.
Ian Kinsler ignited the winning rally with a deep drive to the left of dead center against Greg Holland that eluded a leaping Lorenzo Cain at the wall. Kinsler turned it into a leadoff triple by just beating the throw from left fielder Alex Gordon.
“My timing was just a tad off,” Cain said. “I had enough height, but it barely went behind my glove. I just jumped a little early.”
Michael Young followed by punching a tie-breaking single over the infield.
“The pitch to Kinsler was a mistake,” Holland said, “The slider to Young…he just kind of fileted it into right. Tonight was just one of those nights where (you make) one bad pitch, and there’s a ball off the wall – and you lose the game.
“He could have fouled it off, but he didn’t. He hit it off the wall.”
Young moved to second on a wild pitch, but Holland struck out Josh Hamilton before issuing an intentional walk to Adrian Beltre. After Holland struck out Nelson Cruz, the Royals went to the bullpen again for lefty Francisley Bueno.
When Bueno hit David Murphy, and loaded the bases, Yost summoned Aaron Crow for a right-on-right matchup against Geovany Soto, who grounded into an inning-ending force.
So the Rangers, from all that, got just one run.
One was enough for Joe Nathan, who preserved a victory for Mike Adams, 4-3, by working around a one-out single in the Royals’ 10th. Nathan got his 30th save. Holland, 6-4, was the loser.
The loss forced the Royals to settle for a 5-5 home stand that started with a three-game sweep over Detroit.
“I felt like we competed well against (the Rangers),” Yost said. “We’ve got a little ways to go, but we’re definitely on the right track. I think they feel like they had their hands full for four days.
“I think they’re glad to get out of town, but they’re getting out of town 3-1.”
Texas starter Scott Feldman pitched around two singles in the first inning, surrendered a homer to Jeff Francoeur in the second and two more runs in the third. But he retired 11 in a row before handing a 4-3 lead to Michael Kirkman with one out in the seventh.
Hosmer immediately tied the game with a homer to left-center field. That meant no-decisions for Feldman and Hochevar, who allowed four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Hochevar retired the first 10 Rangers, and had a 3-0 lead, before Young pulled a one-out single past a diving Mike Moustakas at third in the fourth inning. Hamilton followed with a two-run homer on a 392-foot drive to right.
That quickly a 3-0 lead was down to 3-2.
Beltre followed with a homer on a 418-foot drive to center, and it was 3-3.
“It’s a good lineup,” Hochevar said. “They have a lot of power. Even if you don’t slip up, sometimes…both of those guys are good hitters.”
Catcher Salvy Perez set a Royals record when he ended the fifth by picking off Craig Gentry at first. It was his fourth pickoff of the season in just 55 games. Darrell Porter had three in 1977, which John Buck matched in 2005. Perez had three last year in 39 games.
Francoeur’s one-out homer in the second opened the scoring. He golfed a 1-0 fastball over the left-field wall for his 12th homer of the season but his first homer in exactly a month – Aug. 6 at Chicago.
Cain started the third inning with a double past third and stole third base without a throw, which prompted the Rangers to shorten their infield. The alignment didn’t matter when Alcides Escobar struck out.
And it didn’t matter when Gordon pulled a well-placed triple down the right-field line for a 2-0 lead. The Rangers kept their infield in, and got what they needed when Billy Butler sent a soft chopper to third. Gordon had to hold.
But Perez delivered a two-out RBI single to right that extended his hitting streak to 11 games, which matched his previous career best.
It was 3-3 in the seventh when Murphy lined a one-out single into center. Soto followed by tomahawking a drive to left for a double – and Murphy scored when ball got away from Gordon.
No error. The scoring credited Soto with an RBI. All that really mattered was the Royals now trailed 4-3.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.