This make-a-push-in-August campaign is new hereabouts, so its possible the Royals dont have all the details locked down. This much, though, should be obvious:
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Losing two straight at home to the American Leagues worst team (unless you want to count the National League-castoff Astros) is not the optimum approach.
But here sit the Royals, looking like theyve regressed to their punchless May swoon, after Wednesdays 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
I dont see guys pressing, outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. I just see guys getting really mad when they dont get the job done. Theres nobody up there pressing, I dont think.
Everybodys got experience in this game. Youve got to stay focused in this game. If you press, you might as well go home.
Getting guys home is the problem. More on that in a moment.
The game turned on Dayan Viciedos grand slam, which capped a five-run fourth inning against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie. It was all the White Sox got but more than they needed.
They were able to get the bat on a couple of pitches before the grand slam, Guthrie said. And the grand slam wasnt a well-executed pitch. So I just dug myself into a hole, and they got all of those runs.
Yep, it was that simple.
This makes seven losses in nine games for the Royals, including four in a row the last two at home to the White Sox, who are tracking, despite a recent uptick, for their first last-place finish since 1989.
(Remember 1989? Bret Saberhagen won his second Cy Young Award.)
You just keep grinding through it, manager Ned Yost said. Again, the majority of our problems are offensively and you just keep grinding it because you never know when youre going to break out of it.
Chicago rookie Andre Rienzo, a native Brazilian right-hander in his fifth start, collected his first big-league victory by holding the Royals spluttering attack to two runs and five hits over six innings.
It means a lot for me and the country, he said, to show the world Brazil has baseball, not just soccer.
The White Sox used four relievers behind Rienzo, 1-0, to close out their victory. Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his 33rd save.
Oh, and another ball disappeared into a revolving advertising sign behind the plate. Thats twice in two days. For those who believe in omens, draw your own conclusions.
About that flat-lining attack: The Royals collected just six hits, including just one in 10 chances with runners in scoring position. That makes nine for 76 with runners in scoring position over this 2-7 skid.
Were just not getting hits with runners in scoring position, designated hitter Billy Butler said. I know Im not. Weve not played well. Theres no rhyme or reason for it.
Its just 162 games, and this is a rough stretch. Weve gone through a good stretch, a rough stretch, a good stretch. There are ups and downs.
Seems a lot like that 4-19 tumble through May, doesnt it?
These two losses come at the start of a stretch when the Royals, 64-61, play 16 of 17 games against clubs with losing records. They are now 91/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central Division.
The wild-card math, which might now be all that matters, is somewhat better: The Royals remain 61/2 games behind Oakland for the final postseason slot, but there are three clubs between the Royals and As.
Guthrie, 12-10, pitched well over his six innings except for that five-run fourth, which is sort of like landing a plane safely all but one time. He gave up nine hits while striking out two and walking none.
Its no small thing the last two losses occurred in games started by two of the Royals big three: Ervin Santana and Guthrie. They look to avoid a sweep Thursday night behind top gun James Shields.
When youre not getting guys in, Dyson said, you make it a little tougher on your pitcher. Our pitchers have done a great job of keeping us in these ballgames. Weve got to clean it up on offense.
Chicago started the decisive fourth with a leadoff double by Alexei Ramirez that sailed over the head of left fielder Alex Gordon. Adam Dunn followed by lining an RBI single into center for a 1-0 lead.
Dunn went to second on Paul Konerkos single up the middle. After Avasail Garcia popped to first, Conor Gillaspie grounded a single to right that loaded the bases.
Viciedo then crushed his grand slam over the left-center wall for a 5-0 lead.
He does have a tendency to swing at balls out of the strike zone, Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. But you see him hit the ball up the middle, the grand slam, hits one to right, thats hitting pretty good.
At that point, the Royals didnt have a hit, but they opened the bottom of the inning with singles by Butler and Gordon. The runners went to second and third on Salvy Perezs fly to center.
The White Sox thought Butler left second prior to the catch, but the umpires rejected the appeal. Replays suggested the Sox had a beef and the play turned into a run when Mike Moustakas delivered a sacrifice fly.
The Royals clawed back to 5-2 in their sixth on David Loughs two-out RBI single. That was it, though.
The disappearing ball trick occurred, this time, in the Chicago third after Viciedo led off with a single. With one out, Guthrie bounced a wild pitch past Perez that went into a revolving sign.
The scoring is a wild pitch and dead ball; Viciedo took second but got no farther. Guthrie retired the next two hitters.
Theyre going to need to replace that thing, Yost said.
A few other things need fixing, too.