How the KC Royals embarrassed themselves again

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Count it as one of the most disquieting events of the KC Royals’ 2021 season. Put it on the club’s growing list of low points, and when the first weekend of October is over and with it Kansas City’s season, the post mortem of this disappointing campaign will reveal just how this latest embarrassment compares to all the others.

This new embarrassment is, of course, the weekend series loss the Royals suffered at the hands of Baltimore, the worst team the American League has to offer and the second worst in all the majors. Losing two in a row to the Orioles should certainly embarrass this club.

Especially Sunday’s loss. Hope was high before the game that Kansas City would beat Matt Harvey, whose ugly 3-10, 7.70 ERA record going into the day suggested how defenseless he might be.

So what happened? Harvey shut the KC Royals down. He held them to three singles, two of the infield variety, in six innings, and retired them in order three times.

And Harvey, who’d given up so many runs to so many teams before Sunday, didn’t allow Kansas City to score. Whitewashing the Royals was only the second time in 19 games this season he hadn’t allowed a run. He, the typically poor Baltimore bullpen that suddenly turned stingy this weekend, and Ramon Urias’ two-run, two-out single in the third off Kansas City starter Carlos Hernandez amounted to everything the O’s required for their 5-0 victory.

Kansas City finished with six hits, which doesn’t sound so bad until you discover Hunter Dozier had four of them. Of the other nine Royals who went to the plate, only Nicky Lopez and Carlos Santana, who both singled, added hits.

And of the five KC pitchers who appeared as part of Manager Mike Matheny’s apparent and continuing preference to usually use each of his relievers only an inning at a time, gave up three runs. Only Jake Brentz and Wade Davis emerged unscathed.

In the end, it was grim that besides Dozier’s perfect 4-for-4 day and Hernandez’s fair pitching (he struck out six in four innings), Kansas City’s only other highlights were the struggling Davis’ 1-2-3 inning and Jorge Soler’s absence from the lineup for almost the entire game. But even the latter respite was tainted—pinch hitting for Cam Gallagher in the ninth, Soler struck out.

Sunday’s loss compounded the embarrassment the KC Royals suffered Saturday.

Losing to Harvey completed the embarrassing weekend that actually started well for Kansas City. The Royals banged out 15 hits, and starter Danny Duffy and five relievers limited Baltimore to just two runs, in KC’s 9-2 Friday night win. But things turned sour Saturday evening.

Facing Jorge Lopez, like Harvey a former Royal and one of the worst pitchers in the AL this season (Lopez started Saturday with 12 losses and a 5.95 ERA), the odds were in Kansas City’s favor. But Lopez, looking initially like the pitcher the Royals always hoped he could be but seldom was as a Royal, held his old team to just a run until it nicked him for three in the fifth.

But by then, those three runs didn’t matter. The Orioles demolished Brady Singer, who gave up seven in two-plus innings (and who the Royals must now rethink) and led 8-4—the final score—at the end of five. The typically suspect Baltimore bullpen only permitted the Royals two singles, a walk, and a hit batsman in the last four innings.

The Royals lost to a bad team. Whether the defeat was as embarrassing as Sunday’s is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.

In any event, losing twice this weekend to a team that owns bragging rights over only Arizona, which after beating the Cubs Sunday remains the worst club in baseball, is another embarrassment for the KC Royals. Add it to the list—the 11-game May losing streak that cost Kansas City first place, an eight-game losing skid that ended with the second game in July, two five-game losing streaks in June, the 18 games below .500 the Royals are today, and their firm hold on last place in the American League Central, 19 games behind the White Sox.

The KC Royals are 37-55. They’ve lost eight of their last 10 and 17 of their last 21.

It’s embarrassing.

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The Royals are off today before beginning a two-game series with the Brewers in Milwaukee Tuesday at 3:10 p.m. CDT. They’ll be back home Friday to start a seven-game homestand.