|Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista (19) crosses the plate after hitting a two-run home run, scoring Kelly Johnson, left, during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, April 23, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)|
Royals drop 11th straight, 4-1 to Blue Jays
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Royals gathered behind closed doors before facing the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night and had an uncensored, unvarnished, heart-to-heart kind of meeting.
Voices were raised. Anger was evident. Frustration was overflowing.
None of it did a whole lot of good.
Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the bumbling Royals 4-1 on Monday night to complete a four-game sweep. Kansas City lost for the 11th time in a row, finishing up a winless 10-game homestand that drew boos from the sparse crowd left at the end.
The last team to lose its first 10 at home? The Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in 1994.
"We're done with meetings," outfielder Jeff Francoeur said afterward. "We've got to go play and win baseball games in Cleveland. It's hard for a player to say you want to get away from home, but at the same time, every once in a while you do need it."
The Royals have wilted under the highest expectations in years, following up an encouraging season-opening road trip with one of the worst homestands in big league history.
Kansas City (3-13) has matched the 2006 team for the second-worst start in franchise history, and heads out on a nine-game trip having lost 11 straight for the first time since May 2008.
The last team to lose 10 straight at home was Arizona in 2004.
"These 10 or 11 games have felt like a lifetime," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I'm not going to lie to you. It's felt like three summers, this homestand alone. But you can't get caught up in 10 or 11 games over the course of 162-game season."
Eric Hosmer scored the Royals' only run with a homer leading off the second inning.
Otherwise, Brandon Morrow (1-1) took care of the struggling Kansas City lineup. The right-hander allowed seven hits and one walk in 6 2-3 innings, and Luis Perez and Francisco Cordero did the rest. Cordero got some help from a double-play groundout in the ninth for his second save.
"Pitching like we did all series, that's going to give us a chance," said the Blue Jays' Kelly Johnson, whose first-inning homer set the tone for the game.
The four-game sweep was the Blue Jays' first since May 2009, and their first ever at Kansas City. The last time they swept four on the road was 2003 against the New York Yankees.
Bruce Chen (0-2) used his veteran guile to keep the Blue Jays on the ropes most of the game. His only major mistakes came against Bautista and Johnson, and they cost him the game.
The Royals didn't help their cause with some ghastly situational hitting.
The game was tied 1-all in the third inning when Alcides Escobar led off with a double. Chris Getz sacrificed him to third base, but Alex Gordon struck out -- he's hitting .177 on the season -- and Billy Butler grounded out to third base to end the inning.
Yost made the same call for a sacrifice bunt following a leadoff double by portly catcher Brayan Pena in the fifth. This time, the bunt by Mitch Maier was fielded by Morrow, who had plenty of time to throw out the lumbering Pena at third base.
The poorly executed bunt cost the Royals a run when Escobar singled moments later. Getz then popped out to the catcher and Gordon flied out to center to end the inning without a run.
"We can come up with all the excuses in the world," Yost said. "The bottom line is we didn't execute. That's what it was."
The Blue Jays took advantage the next half-inning.
Johnson drew his second straight walk and Bautista connected on the first pitch of the at-bat from Chen, sending a go-ahead shot over the fence in left and into the Royals bullpen. Bautista's third homer of the season snapped a 2-for-12 stretch in the series.
The Royals put runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh, but Perez got Gordon to ground out harmlessly to shortstop. Kansas City was 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and finished the four-game set 5 for 40 in such situations.
"Talk to us at the end of May and see what our record is," Francoeur said. "I still believe we've got plenty of talent in this room to turn it around, and that's what we plan on doing."
Notes: Getz was the Royals' fourth leadoff hitter of the series. ... Perez had not allowed a hit to a left-handed batter until Getz doubled in the seventh. ... Gordon went 0 for 4. ... The Blue Jays head to Baltimore for three games starting Tuesday. RHP Henderson Alvarez will pitch the opener. ... Royals LHP Luke Hochevar goes Tuesday night in their series opener at Cleveland.