Dangerous slide continues for struggling KC Royals

Suddenly quiet, Kansas City lost again Sunday.
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One things is abundantly clear after Texas dumped the KC Royals 4-0 in Arlington Sunday afternoon.

These are, to be sure, hard, hard times for Kansas City, the worst of a season that started so well but now may be teetering on the proverbial brink just three days shy of the campaign's mathematical midpoint.

It's not just Sunday's uninspired-looking loss to the Rangers, a defeat they suffered without manager Matt Quatraro and utility man Adam Frazier and which gave them a 42-37 record through 78 games, or the ugly fact that Kansas City scored only twice in this three-game series that resulted in the club being swept for the first time since last season. Instead, it's that from top to bottom, Kansas City bears little resemblance to the team that blazed its way to 15 games above .500 by winning its eighth straight game May 25, but is only 8-18 since.

Nothing has changed since we recently wrote of the club's many troubles. The Royals aren't hitting. Their starters are becoming inconsistent. The bullpen isn't good enough anymore.

In short, this team isn't what it was, and too often reminds itself and its fans of how it lost so many times last year.

Sunday merely made it all that much harder to take.

Texas shut down the KC Royals

That Kansas City had nothing for the Rangers Sunday understates the situation. Max Scherzer, who before the game hadn't thrown a single big league pitch this season, got the shutout underway by holding the Royals scoreless and to only one hit, a fifth-inning double by MJ Melendez, in the five easy frames he worked. Scherzer didn't even allow a walk.

The Royals' increasingly soft offense managed only one hit off Texas reliever José Ureña, who took over from Scherzer to begin the sixth, and that was Maikel Garcia's single that came in KC's first at-bat against someone other than Scherzer. Hunter Renfroe walked in the eighth, but it just didn't matter.

And Kansas City's pitching? On any other day, starter Alec Marsh probably would have notched his sixth win, not his fifth loss. But two significant fourth-inning Texas hits — Wyatt Langford's RBI double and Leody Taveras' two-run single that followed moments later — did him and the Royals in. Marsh fell an out short of his fourth quality start of 2024.

It would be easy to attribute this loss to how Scherzer throttled Kansas City through the first five innings. But Ureña, the only reliever Ranger manager Bruce Bochy had to use, treated them almost as badly by giving only a hit and a walk.

No, the club's latest defeat wasn't all Scherzer's doing. The Royals have lost themselves at the plate; they're averaging 2.5 runs per game over their last 10 contests, and Scherzer faced them only once in that span. And although it wasn't a factor Sunday, the bullpen must recover from its recent woes or the Royals will be in more danger than this current slide has them in.

The fixes must come fast. Because Cleveland won again Sunday, Kansas City is now nine games behind the first-place Guardians in the American League West. And Boston nudged the Royals out of the last Wild Card spot by beating Cincinnati.

Three games with the Marlins await the Royals when they open a new homestand Monday night. Then come the Guardians for four at Kauffman Stadium to close out the month. Perhaps the Marlins can help KC get back on track before then.

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