It was July 26, and 2005 had already been cruel to the KC Royals. The club was trapped in a season already lost, mired almost 30 games behind American League Central-leading Chicago, their opponent for that night’s game, and stood a miserable 27 games below .500.
But thanks to an uncharacteristic six-run sixth inning, the Royals won easily and then beat the Sox in 13 innings the next night to head into a seven-game road trip on a nice note.
Lying ahead, though, was a ghastly 19-game stretch that is, to this day, the longest losing streak in club history.
How did such a thing happen?
The KC Royals start their road trip badly against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The Royals opened the trip in Tampa against the Devil Rays and were coasting after just two innings. Mike Sweeney’s two-run first-frame double, followed by David DeJesus’ RBI double and Chip Ambres’ two-run homer in the second staked KC starter Kyle Snider to a comfortable 5-1 lead.
But Snyder buckled and gave up five runs on six hits in the fifth. KC couldn’t recover and lost 10-5.
Kansas City starter D.J. Carrasco pitched five scoreless innings the next night; the trouble was that he gave the Rays four runs in the first, all they needed to win 6-3. The Royals waited until the eighth to score all their runs.
A Saturday night game followed and the Royals again until late to score. Their three seventh-inning runs meant nothing because of the unhospitable way Tampa and future Royal Jonny Gomes treated KC starter Zack Greinke—they clipped him for five runs, Gomes touched him for one of his two homers on the night, and the Rays won 7-3.
Tampa swept the series the next day. Once again, the Royals didn’t score until it was too late—their two runs in the eighth weren’t enough to overcome the six Tampa had already scored, including three on the six hits and five walks starter Jose Lima gave them in the first five frames. Their hosts sent KC off to Boston with a 6-2 beating.