Royals

A Royal beating: Garcia is crushed in 17-0 loss to the Twins

Royals pitcher Onelki Garcia left the mound in the first inning after giving up four runs and getting only one out against the Twins in his first big-league start Saturday in Minneapolis.
Royals pitcher Onelki Garcia left the mound in the first inning after giving up four runs and getting only one out against the Twins in his first big-league start Saturday in Minneapolis. The Associated Press

There were many questions to ponder Saturday evening at Target Field, as the Royals suffered a 17-0 dismantling at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, as another blowout piled up on a pleasant September night, as a baseball team, once well positioned for another postseason appearance, was thoroughly lambasted by the team it is chasing in the American League wild card race.

Could Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, who was four for four after the fourth inning, threaten the all-time record of seven hits in a nine-inning game? That was kind of interesting, but no. Could the Royals (66-68) lose by at least 12 runs for a third time in six games after 12-0 losses to Cleveland and Tampa Bay earlier this week? That seemed feasible, and, yes, Kansas City became the first major-league team since at least 1913 to pull that off while being shut out in each game.

But, really, the most prudent question was this: Why? Why did the Royals, in the midst of a playoff chase and facing the Twins in a critical three-game series, offer journeyman Onelki Garcia his first major-league start? Why did it come to this, Garcia getting crushed for four runs while securing just one out in the bottom of the first inning, with the mop-up brigade of rookies Andres Machado and Eric Skloglund allowing an additional nine runs in 3  2/3 innings of relief?

Machado, a 24-year-old right-hander with a big arm, was summoned from Class AAA Omaha on Friday to offer bullpen depth. Skoglund has been largely ineffective since his scintillating debut against the Detroit Tigers. Yet the night was lost on Saturday when Garcia, a 28-year-old Cuban who spent last year in the Mexican League, was exposed under an all-out assault in the first.

“We didn’t pitch good tonight,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, in a terse postgame session with reporters.

As Garcia warmed up Saturday evening at Target Field, the answer, or a portion of it, had already been stated by Yost earlier this week. The rotation was a man down after Danny Duffy landed on the disabled list and Skoglund was crunched in a spot start on Sunday in Cleveland.

But the schedule had provided a day off on Thursday, a gift that would have allowed the Royals to keep their top four starters on regular rest, starting Ian Kennedy on Saturday and Jakob Junis on Sunday. The rotation would not have needed another starter until Tuesday at Detroit. It seemed like a workable plan.

Yet Yost and the Royals staff saw value in offering Kennedy and Jason Vargas extra rest in September, citing their workloads and the fatigue that surfaces this time of year. Yost didn’t reference their recent performances, though perhaps he could have done so.

Kennedy posted a 9.57 ERA in 26  1/3 innings in August, while Vargas put up a 7.18 mark. The collapse of the starting rotation has been a driving force in the Royals’ late-summer evolution from top wild-card contender to bruised and battered. In the moments after the loss, Yost was asked twice whether the loss reflected the lack of depth in the pitching staff, whether through injuries or ineffectiveness. Both times Yost refused to bite.

“I feel like we didn’t pitch well,” Yost said.

There is a lack of depth, of course. On Saturday, Duffy and starter Nathan Karns remained on the disabled list. Trevor Cahill, acquired from the San Diego Padres at the deadline, just returned and surrendered three runs in relief. Other options, such as Brian Flynn, Miguel Almonte and Kyle Zimmer, are either on the 60-day disabled list or not pitching right now.

So this is reality. The Royals’ championship core, most of which will be headed to free agency when the season ends, now appears closer to becoming a carcass. In the course of one week, they have lost seven times in nine games, been outscored 62-18 and fallen 4  1/2 games behind the Twins with 28 games to play.

They also suffered through a 45-inning stretch without a run and watched their best starting pitcher, Duffy, be cited for driving under the influence on Sunday, one day after he landed on the disabled list because of a pronator strain. In short, they have had better weeks.

“It’s just frustration,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “That’s all it is. We’re in a tough spot right now. We’re obviously pretty late in the season where we can’t afford to give up that many games. They just jumped on us early today. There’s really no turning back after that first inning.”

The Royals must win on Sunday to stay within reasonable striking distance as a portion of the final stretch run begins. They can start by pitching better.

On Saturday, Garcia allowed four hits and a walk in one-third of an inning. When the night was over, he spent part of his postgame interview thanking the Royals for the opportunity to start.

“He felt like he came out good,” said Royals catching coach Pedro Grifol, who interpreted for Garcia. “He came out throwing the ball where he wanted to throw it. He also felt that there were some pitches that were close that he didn’t get. But that was it.”

After Garcia departed, Machado, making his major-league debut, was raked for six runs in the second inning, issuing three walks in an ugly inning. The game was already out of hand.

“It’s tough,” Yost said. “We were trying to stop the bleeding there. He’s a strike thrower with good stuff but he just couldn’t get ahead.”

The Royals allowed a season-high in runs as the Twins pounded out 14 hits. They were shut out for a major-league-leading 15th time. And the loss represented the worst the franchise has absorbed since falling 19-1 to the Cleveland Indians on May 16, 2011. The defeat felt like a sore that could fester. The momentum needs to turn quickly.

“Get ready to go again tomorrow,” Yost said.

Twins 17, Royals 0

Royals

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.280

Cain cf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.289

Orlando cf

3

0

2

0

0

0

.180

Cabrera rf

2

0

0

0

0

1

.296

Bonifacio rf

2

0

0

0

0

0

.254

Hosmer 1b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.317

Butera 1b

2

0

0

0

0

0

.254

Perez c

2

0

1

0

0

0

.268

1-Gallagher pr-c

2

0

1

0

0

0

.400

Moustakas 3b

2

0

1

0

0

0

.276

Cuthbert 3b

2

0

1

0

0

1

.221

Moss dh

3

0

0

0

0

0

.200

A.Escobar ss

1

0

0

0

0

0

.236

Mondesi ss

2

0

1

0

0

1

.114

Gordon lf

3

0

0

0

0

2

.197

Totals

33

0

7

0

0

7

Twins

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Dozier 2b

2

3

1

3

2

0

.266

Goodrum 2b

2

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Mauer 1b

4

2

4

2

0

0

.303

Vargas 1b

0

1

0

0

1

0

.242

Buxton cf

5

3

3

2

0

0

.253

Polanco ss

5

2

2

2

0

1

.260

E.Escobar 3b

5

3

3

6

0

0

.253

Garver dh

3

0

1

1

2

1

.250

Rosario rf

3

0

0

1

0

0

.288

Granite rf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.234

Gimenez c

3

1

0

0

2

1

.203

Adrianza lf

3

2

0

0

2

1

.264

Totals

36

17

14

17

9

4

Royals

000

000

000

0

7

0

Twins

460

310

30x

17

14

0

1-ran for Perez in the 5th.

LOB: Kansas City 6, Minnesota 5. 2B: Mauer (29), Polanco (26). 3B: Buxton (4), E.Escobar (3). HR: Dozier (27), off Skoglund; E.Escobar (13), off McCarthy; E.Escobar (14), off Cahill. RBIs: Dozier 3 (77), Mauer 2 (56), Buxton 2 (40), Polanco 2 (60), E.Escobar 6 (54), Garver (1), Rosario (60). SF: Rosario.

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 3 (Gordon 3); Minnesota 1 (Dozier). RISP: Kansas City 0 for 4; Minnesota 9 for 13. Runners moved up: Moss, E.Escobar. GIDP: Cabrera, Granite. DP: Kansas City 1 (Merrifield, Mondesi, Butera); Minnesota 1 (Polanco, Mauer).

Royals

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Garcia L, 0-1

0.1

4

4

4

1

0

23

13.50

Machado

0.2

4

6

6

3

0

47

81.00

Skoglund

3

3

3

3

3

2

81

10.29

McCarthy

2

1

1

1

0

1

26

2.87

Cahill

1

2

3

3

2

1

21

4.68

Moylan

1

0

0

0

0

0

13

4.04

Twins

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Gibson W, 9-10

6

5

0

0

0

5

81

5.33

Rogers

1

2

0

0

0

1

13

3.49

Boshers

1

0

0

0

0

0

8

4.78

Turley

1

0

0

0

0

1

13

11.66

Machado pitched to 7 batters in the 2nd.

Inherited runners-scored: Machado 1-0, Skoglund 2-1.

Umpires: Home, Mike Winters; First, Marty Foster; Second, Mike Muchlinski; Third, Mark Wegner. Time: 3:05. Att: 33,413.

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