Dreadful month ends how it started for the KC Royals
If there actually was one, the only silver lining to the dark cloud that was the 8-4 defeat the KC Royals suffered Sunday in Minnesota is this: the game, decided well before the Royals finished scoring their four runs, brought a long-awaited end to the awful baseball month that began for Kansas City March 30 and concluded with the loss to the Twins.
The sad period began with the Royals' Opening Day defeat to the same Twins who knocked them around Sunday. It seems fitting, then, that a month that could send the club spinning into one of its worst seasons ever ended just the way it started—with a loss.
And to understand Sunday's defeat is to understand much about why the Royals are 7-22.
The starting pitching failed, a foreseeable result considering the facts KC's rotation has yielded the American League's fourth-highest numbers of runs and hits and its third-highest number of walks, and Brady Singer came into the contest on the heels of poor performances in three of his last four starts over which he gave up 19 runs in 22 innings, including five in two games and eight in another.
Unfortunately, Singer's troubles continued Sunday. The run he gave the Twins in the second inning wasn't particularly worrisome, but his third frame was catastrophic and ended the contest for all practical purposes. After getting two outs, he gave up a bomb to Byron Buxton, a homer that reached Target Field's top level and scored three runs. Trevor Larnach followed immediately with a single, Singer hit Joey Gallo, Nick Gordon singled to score Larnach, and Willi Castro drove in Gallo with another single.
Manager Matt Quatraro replaced Singer with Josh Staumont who, making an atypical early appearance, promptly gave up a two-run single to Christian Vázquez to make it 8-0 and put the game far out of Kansas City's reach—the Royals scored a run in the sixth, another in the seventh, and two in a last-gasp ninth, but really never had a chance after the third.
Singer, charged with all eight Minnesota runs, has now given up 28 runs in 29.2 innings (8.49 ERA) and may be searching for answers to his once-again maddeningly inconsistent pitching.
And what of the struggling Kansas City offense? It, too, didn't surprise: despite banging out 10 hits, half of which belonged to Vinnie Pasquantino (three) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (two), the Royals were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, a result strikingly consistent with their 29th-ranked .201 RISP.
The loss concluded a terrible first month of the season for the KC Royals
So, including Sunday's defeat, just how bad have things been for Kansas City?
Pretty bad. Now 15 games under .500, the Royals had a chance to crawl out of the AL cellar Sunday, but remain there after Chicago, with whom they shared the basement entering play Sunday, shocked the red-hot Rays with a seven-run ninth and won 12-9.
But that's not all. Kansas City has lost 12 of 13 home contests; its only Kauffman Stadium win came April 3 against Toronto. Only once has the club won a series, and it's lost six series in a row. The Royals' only winning "streak" stands at two, a feat accomplished when it beat the Giants April 7-8. They've lost seven of their last 10 and 16 of their last 20.
And Kansas City could soon replace Oakland (6-23) as the majors' worst team—the clubs play each other three times later this week.
With all that, will May be better?