Its not likely the Royals actually needed a reminder, but they got one Friday night -- courtesy of Torontos previously struggling Blue Jays -- regarding the consequences of sloppy defense and subpar pitching.
Three errors and an ineffective Luis Mendoza, along with a clutch-minus outing by reliever Luke Hochevar, resulted in a forgettable 8-4 loss on another cold night at Kauffman Stadium.
What hurt me, Mendoza said, was I was just missing my spots. When I needed a curveball in the dirt, I kept leaving the pitches up. That was all night.
It was even worse, though, in a big way for the winning Jays; they lost shortstop Jose Reyes, a former batting champion an four-time All-Star, to an ugly-looking ankle injury on a stolen base in the sixth inning.
Reyes had just lined a two-run single against Hochevar when he stole second. Reyes ankle twisted nearly all the way around as it became trapped under his body on the slide.
A cart was required to help Reyes off the field. Toronto officials said the initial diagnosis was a sprained ankle, although Reyes was transported to an area hospital for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination.
He thought the ball was foul, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. Hes going to be on the DL (disabled list) one way or the other. Its pretty swollen right now.
The Blue Jays are already bracing for the worst. Anthopoulos said Reyes is expected to miss at least one month but admitted it could be as long as three months.
Mendoza, 0-1, allowed two runs in the first inning, but the Royals struck back with three runs in their first against Jays starter J.A. Happ, who needed 41 pitches to get through the inning.
Toronto regained the lead with two runs in the second, aided by the second of two throwing errors by catcher Salvy Perez, and never trailed again.
The Royals made errors in each of the first three innings after committing just three errors in their previous nine games.
Yep, it was that kind of night.
We made some plays that werent so pretty, manager Ned Yost conceded. We threw the ball around a little bit, but that happens on occasion. You wont see it very often with us.
Happ, 2-0, threw 110 pitches in getting through the necessary five innings to get the victory. Sergio Santos and Aaron Loup protected the lead over the final four innings. Loup gained his first career save.
The Royals went down one-two-three in seven of eight innings after the first.
(Happ) did what I was hoping Mendy would do, Yost said. He settled down in the second and third inning. It took Mendy until the fourth inning before he settled down.
Mendoza gave up eight runs (seven earned) in 5 2/3 innings. Hochevar replaced Mendoza with runners at second and third -- and yielded Reyes back-breaking, two-run single.
Im trying to make a pitch that hes not going to get good wood on, Hochevar said. I threw a two-seamer down and away. I was trying to get it down there. A perfect pitch at the bottom of the zone.
I thought I got it out there, and he just put a pretty good swing on it. Thats not what I wanted to happen.
It was the only hit that Hochevar yielded in 2 1/3 innings.
The Reyes at-bat was the glaring at-bat, Yost said. You look at his line: 2 1/3 innings, one walk and five punchouts. But the Reyes at-bat will be the one everybody remembers.
The Royals defensive breakdowns extended their their right-field ballboy, who tried to make a play on Alcides Escobars two-out foul fly in the seventh inning.
The problem was Toronto right fielder Rajai Davis also appeared to have a play on the ball, which fell to ground. The Jays argued in vain for interference.
It didnt matter. Escobar grounded out, and the inning ended. The final 14 Royals were retired in order.
They played well today, Escobar said. That happens in the game. We won four in a row, and today we lost. You just come back (Saturday) and play hard.
And hopefully ... better.