Royals

Royals’ scoreless drought hits 43 innings in 12-0 loss to the Rays

The Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier ended up with a double when Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain failed to come up with a catch in the first inning of Monday's game at Kauffman Stadium.
The Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier ended up with a double when Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain failed to come up with a catch in the first inning of Monday's game at Kauffman Stadium. jsleezer@kcstar.com

As the zeroes piled up and a historic drought dragged on, as a baseball season teetered toward the brink, Kauffman Stadium turned quiet Monday night.

First there were sounds, of course. A cascade of boos after another woeful start from Ian Kennedy. An overenthusiastic cheer when Lorenzo Cain reached third base following a one-out double in the fourth inning. But then, there was mostly silence, the kind of muted indifference that accompanies the worst stretch of offense in franchise history.

In a 12-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Royals extended their franchise-record scoreless drought to 43 innings. On a Monday night in Kansas City, a starter was decimated early, a stadium cleared out late, a losing streak hit five games, and a goal of a third postseason appearance in four seasons suddenly felt like folly.

“It’s frustrating,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said.

The Royals became the 10th team in history — and the first in 25 years — to be shut out in four consecutive games. The last team to experience this kind of humiliation was the 1992 Chicago Cubs.

When the night was over, they stood just five innings shy of the major-league record — 48 scoreless innings by the 1968 Chicago Cubs and 1906 Philadelphia A’s — and Hosmer stood by his locker, speaking inside a half-empty clubhouse.

“I think the bigger problem is just not winning,” Hosmer said, when asked about the surprising nature of the streak. “The games haven’t really been too competitive. I think we’ve been putting ourselves in a hole early. I know the big problem, or the big talk right now, is the scoreless streak. But we’ve got to start off on being competitive, finding ways to string along some hits and stay in some of these games.”

The statement came just a few hours after Kennedy surrendered seven runs in 2  2/3 innings. It followed a 12-0 loss on Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, a clobbering in which the Royals fell behind 12-0 after two innings. Moments later, Hosmer was asked what he meant. Did the offense just need to score early?

“Just make it competitive,” he said. “It seems like the last couple of days, it’s been the second or third inning and we’ve been put in a pretty big hole.”

Five days earlier, the Royals had dressed in this same clubhouse after a joyous victory, laughing and celebrating in the wake of a 6-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. Hosmer had drilled a mammoth walk-off shot in the bottom of the ninth, and in the moments after the first walk-off homer of his career, he called his blast a swing “that can really get things going for the team.”

In the five days since, his team had lost five consecutive games and been outscored 35-2, including a 35-0 run that began in the third inning on Thursday afternoon.

“There’s no explanation for it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “If there was, we would fix it. I can’t even make something up.”

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost see all 25 guys on the team's rolls being important, and has hope that the team can reach the first place in the division. Video by

The stretch has featured a three-game sweep at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The contrast between a walk-off victory and a record scoreless streak has only served to accentuate the vagaries of baseball and the limits of an inconsistent team. The bottom of the lineup has offered scant production. The starting rotation has recorded a 6.39 ERA in August. The flaws have resulted in a 9-17 record since the end of July.

“They’ve played all-in to the last out for four games,” Yost said. “That’s all I can ask.”

Hosmer’s game-winning homer had pushed the Royals to three games over .500 and back in the heart of the American League wild-card race. On Monday, they dropped to 64-66, two games under .500 for the first time since July 18. To make matters worse, they finished the night three games behind the Twins (67-63), who occupy the second wild-card spot, and behind four other teams, including the Rays (66-67).

Kennedy’s ERA in August soared to 9.57. The Royals managed just one hit against Tampa Bay starter Austin Pruitt, who tossed six innings after surrendering 14 earned runs in his last three starts.

For a second straight day, a game turned into a rout in the early innings. On Sunday, the Royals were battered for 12 runs in the first two innings in a loss to the Indians. On Monday, Kennedy allowed a three-run homer to Lucas Duda, the Mets first baseman who threw wildly in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, and a two-run shot to Wilson Ramos. In all, the Rays piled up six extra-base hits, turning Kennedy into a piñata.

“It’s frustrating,” Kennedy said. “Not the way I want to pitch. Probably the worst I’ve pitched in awhile.”

By the top of the ninth, the Rays had piled on another four runs against reliever Kevin McCarthy. First baseman Logan Morrison, who spent much of his childhood in the Kansas City area, roped a three-run homer to right field, a finishing strike.

By the bottom half of the inning, the only drama surrounded the scoreless drought. Some day, the Royals will score a run again. But it would not happen Monday. Not that Hosmer was interested in pondering the root causes of the offensive struggles or the historic nature of the streak. In the big picture, he said, it’s “five games that we haven’t won.”

“It looks a lot worse because we haven’t scored,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s baseball. It’s a loss. It’d be the same thing if we lost 12-11. We just haven’t scored yet. I’m pretty confident we’ll score one more run by the end of the season.”

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost says Salvador Perez still feels a twinge of pain with each at-bat, and Mike Moustakas wants to try starting at third as his leg begins to feel a little better.

Rays 12, Royals 0

Rays

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Kiermaier cf

2

2

2

1

2

0

.273

Bourjos cf

0

1

0

0

1

0

.226

Duda dh

4

1

1

3

0

0

.235

a-Puello ph-dh

1

1

1

1

0

0

.286

Longoria 3b

4

1

1

1

0

0

.265

Morrison 1b

4

2

2

4

1

0

.247

Souza Jr. rf

4

0

0

0

1

0

.251

Dickerson lf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.291

Ramos c

4

1

1

2

0

0

.243

Miller 2b

4

1

1

0

0

1

.193

Hechavarria ss

3

2

2

0

0

0

.251

Espinosa ss

1

0

0

0

0

1

.164

Totals

35

12

12

12

5

3

 

Royals

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.282

Cain cf

4

0

2

0

0

0

.290

Cabrera rf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.295

Hosmer 1b

3

0

0

0

0

1

.318

Perez c

3

0

0

0

0

1

.273

Butera c

0

0

0

0

0

0

.257

Moustakas 3b

3

0

0

0

0

0

.275

Cuthbert 3b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.220

Moss dh

1

0

0

0

2

1

.204

Escobar ss

3

0

0

0

0

0

.233

Gordon lf

3

0

0

0

0

2

.199

Totals

28

0

2

0

2

6

 

Rays

106

100

004

12

12

0

Royals

000

000

000

0

2

0

a-singled for Duda in the 9th.

LOB: Tampa Bay 2, Kansas City 3. 2B: Kiermaier (13), Longoria (33), Morrison (20), Hechavarria (9), Cain 2 (25). 3B: Dickerson (4), Hechavarria (3). HR: Duda (25), off Kennedy; Ramos (6), off Kennedy; Morrison (32), off McCarthy. RBIs: Kiermaier (29), Duda 3 (52), Longoria (71), Morrison 4 (74), Ramos 2 (19), Puello (2). SF: Longoria.

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 2 (Cabrera, Hosmer). RISP: Tampa Bay 6 for 10; Kansas City 0 for 3. Runners moved up: Duda, Cabrera. GIDP: Duda, Dickerson. DP: Kansas City 2 (Merrifield, Escobar, Hosmer), (Escobar, Hosmer).

Rays

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Pruitt W, 7-4

6

1

0

0

1

6

78

5.27

Andriese S, 1

3

1

0

0

1

0

39

3.38

Royals

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Kennedy L, 4-10

2.2

6

7

7

2

1

45

5.47

Flynn

2.1

3

1

1

0

0

29

3.86

Alexander

1

0

0

0

0

1

13

2.29

Buchter

1

0

0

0

1

0

15

3.23

Moylan

1

0

0

0

1

0

10

4.18

McCarthy

1

3

4

4

1

1

31

2.76

WP: Pruitt.

Umpires: Home, Marvin Hudson; First, Mike Estabrook; Second, Bill Welke; Third, Dan Bellino. Time: 2:43. Att: 21,866.

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