How the KC Royals managed to lose 19 straight games

(Photo by John Williamson /MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Williamson /MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
(Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images) /

Returning home to Kauffman Stadium made no difference for the KC Royals.

A three-run lead after five innings against a team seriously contending for a division title is usually encouraging, but the Royals were becoming accustomed to blowing leads after watching them disappear in five of their seven road losses. And the 4-1 advantage they held over the Athletics, who arrived in Kansas City just a game out of first place in the American League West, was about to crumble.

Starter Zack Greinke let Oakland back in the game in the sixth by surrendering a two-run homer to Dan Johnson. Then, in the eighth, reliever Jeremy Affeldt walked the bases loaded with one out and Burgos, who’d blown a lead in Boston just three days before, allowed a run on a single and another on a wild pitch, giving the A’s the 5-4 lead they never relinquished.

There was no lead for the Royals to lose the next night, however. Oakland led 16-0 before Kansas City scored its only run in the eighth; KC starter Lima was charged with seven runs, reliever Jimmy Gobble with eight.

The next day’s finale was more of the same. The A’s led 8-0 after three, the Royals never scored, and Oakland won 11-0. Hernández, who the Red Sox battered so badly the week before, gave Oakland four runs in the first and three in the second.

After Oakland left town, Cleveland came into The K and swept the KC Royals.

Two nights later, a day off and new opponent seemed to be doing the trick for Kansas City after eight innings of the club’s first game with Cleveland—the Royals led 7-1 with three outs to go and closer Mike MacDougal coming in.

What happened then was nothing less than a bloodletting.

MacDougal, owner of 15 saves, gave up four doubles, two singles and five runs before Manager Buddy Bell summoned Gobble with two outs to protect a six-run lead cut to one. But he allowed five more runs, including three a Jhonny Peralta homer, and the Indians walked away with an easy 13-7 win.

The Royals, perhaps still shellshocked by that humiliating self-destruction, went quietly the next night. Behind 4-0 after two, they managed just one run. Cleveland scored all but two of its runs off Greinke and won 6-1.

The streak, now 12, appeared in danger in the next evening’s finale when Kansas City took a 2-0 lead in the second on singles by Ambres and DeJesus. But the Indians weren’t about to see the Royals’ ugly skid end on their watch. KC starter Carrasco surrendered a seventh-inning grand slam to Jeff Liefer—the only home run he’d hit that season and the last of his big league career—and Kansas City lost 4-2.

Detroit offered no relief to the KC Royals. The miserable homestand ended.

Just as one day off separating the Oakland and Cleveland series and a change in opponents didn’t alter the Royals’ bad fortunes, two days of rain that washed out Friday and Saturday contests with Detroit didn’t impact their losing streak. The Tigers swept both ends of a Sunday doubleheader to push that streak to 15 straight.

The Tigers broke a 7-7 tie in the ninth inning of the first game when future Royal Omar Infante doubled off Burgos with two outs. Fernando Rodney closed out the Royals to ruin their 12-hit attack and three-hit games by DeJesus and Berroa. Detroit scored six of their seven runs off KC starter Mike Wood.

Kansas City pitching wasn’t as shaky in the nightcap, but Detroit’s was flawless—Mike Maroth and Rodney shut out the Royals 1-0, rendering Lima’s complete game for naught.

The disastrous homestand over, the club left for a six-game swing to Seattle and Oakland.