Whenever the Royals, after the last 20 years, rewrite any section of their record book that deals with futility, as they did Tuesday night, it figures to be a remarkably inept achievement.
The Royals, by losing 4-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals in front of a mostly red crowd at Kauffman Stadium stretched their home losing streak to 10 games — and that matches a franchise record set last year.
There’s more, of course. The Royals have lost seven in a row overall and 18 of their last 22 in falling to 21-28. And as usual, the chief culprit is a flat-lining attack that increasingly appears overmatched against every opponent.
Manager Ned Yost sounded exasperated when asked how players were being held accountable.
“What are you asking me to do?” he asked. “Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them? What do you want? These kids, every day, we go through the process. We’re talking constantly about approach.
“Do we need to make changes? This can’t continue. Somewhere down the road, yeah, we’re going to have to make some changes.”
St. Louis rookie Tyler Lyons might become a dominant lefty over the next decade. (He had an impressive big-league debut last week against San Diego.) But he will be hard-pressed to top this performance.
Lyons, 2-0, yielded one run and two hits — both to Billy Butler — in seven innings before Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica closed out the victory. Mujica collected his 15th save.
“Early, especially in the first inning,” Lyons said, “I was a little erratic with everything. So I just tried to control that a little bit and get in the groove and figure out what was working and what wasn't.
“Eventually everything came.”
The Cardinals managed just seven hits in 71/3 innings against Royals starter Ervin Santana, but three of them left the yard.
Carlos Beltran hit a two-run shot in the first, and Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday launched solo boomers in the sixth.
“That happens,” Santana said. “I’m not trying to be perfect out there. I’m just trying to make my pitch. If I miss, that’s how it is. I just have to (turn) the page and get them next time.”
The Royals, in contrast, have hit just two homers in their last 13 games.
The 10 consecutive home losses matches the Royals’ streak from their season-killing first homestand in April 2012. The chance for No. 11 won’t come until June 4, when Minnesota arrives for a three-game series.
Before then, the Royals head across Missouri for two games against the Cardinals in St. Louis before spending the weekend in Texas for three games against the Rangers.
“It sure as (heck) ain’t fun,” second baseman Elliot Johnson said. “Nothing really seems to be going our way but, ultimately, offensively, we need to be shouldering the load here. Two hits? We need to be doing a better job.”
Santana lost his fourth straight decision in falling to 3-5.
The start mirrored Monday’s game when Carpenter led off with single, and the second hitter followed with a homer. This time, it was Beltran on a 339-foot drive to right. On Monday, it was Yadier Molina against James Shields.
Beltran’s homer was his 11th of the season and the 345th of his career. The first 123 came while playing for the Royals from 1999-2004. His 62 homers at Kauffman Stadium are the most he’s hit at any ballpark.
Alex Gordon, back in the leadoff role, opened the Royals’ first inning with a walk. Lyons retired the next two hitters before Butler drilled an RBI double into the left-center gap.
It was the 1,000th hit of Butler’s career. The crowd stood and cheered at the announcement, and Butler responded with a smile and hat tip at second base.
“The fans gave me a great reception,” he said. “It was a great moment. I’m appreciative of that. Unfortunately, it came in a game like this. We’ve just got to keep grinding. Everybody knows that. Hopefully, we’ll break through.”
The only other Royals’ highlights came in the St. Louis seventh after David Freese reached on a leadoff single. First, Johnson made a diving stop on John Jay’s grounder up the middle and turned it into a force at second.
The next play was even better. Shortstop Alcides Escobar made a diving stop on Tony Cruz’s grounder up the middle and flipped to Johnson, who made a strong throw to first with Jay bearing down.
First baseman Eric Hosmer completed the web gem with a scoop.
Other than that, it was all pretty bleak. As right fielder Jeff Francoeur noted: “We hit one ball hard in nine innings.”
Lyons went into lock-down mode after Butler’s double by retiring 17 in a row before Butler flared a one-out single to right field in the seventh inning. That was the Royals’ entire offense.
“I like not pitching out of the stretch,” Lyons said, “so that's good. We got in a pretty good groove. Cruz did a really nice job mixing it up on hitters. We got in a groove there, and it worked well for us.”
Santana also settled into a groove soon after Beltran’s homer and retired 14 straight hitters before teeing up the Cardinals in the sixth. Carpenter opened the inning by launching an 0-2 slider deep into the right-field seats.
Holliday followed one out later with a booming blast on a first-pitch fastball to the left of dead center. That quickly, a 2-1 lead grew to 4-1 — and it was more than enough.
“It’s a 162-game season,” Yost said. “If you look where the Oakland A’s were last year. At the All-Star break, they were totally written off and counted out. Look where they finished.
“Once this team comes together, if it ever does — and I do believe it will — and gels as a team, we are going to be in pretty good shape. Right now, we’re struggling through it.”