OK, this makes two clunkers in a row for the Royals just as the schedule is about to get a lot tougher. Monday night’s 9-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians was a lot like Sunday night’s 10-3 loss.
It started with a thud and never got much better.
Royals starter Wade Davis, 2-2, labored through 4 2/3 miserable innings that saw him surrender eight runs, which matched a career high, and 12 hits despite a series of strong defensive plays that kept it from being worse.
Oh, yes, it could have been worse.
“I just left too many mistakes over the plate,” Davis said. “I put myself in some bad spots. I’ve got to do better. They hit some good pitches and got runners on. Then I threw some bad pitches that they hit better.”
Ryan Raburn led Cleveland’s 14-hit attack with two homers, two singles and four RBIs. His first homer was a three-run shot against Davis that capped a six-run fifth inning — and was his first since last May 15.
“Yeah, I knew,” he said. “It was off (Chicago’s) Jake Peavy. Last year was bad year, a tough year with injuries and a slow start. This year, I’m trying to battle through and just have a fun.”
More fun came in the eighth when Raburn sent a full-count fastball from reliever Kelvin Herrera into the right-field bullpen. The Royals, meanwhile, didn’t get their first hit against Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who entered the game with an ERA of (ahem) 10.06, until Billy Butler’s two-out single in the fourth on a grounder to deep short.
“I guess the couple of extra days (of rest) really helped my arm,” said Jimenez, whose last start was April 21. “I was able to throw everything for a strike.”
The Royals didn’t get their second hit until Mike Moustakas’ leadoff double in the eighth.
“He was making that first pitch for a strike,” Moustakas said. “He put us in a hole almost every at-bat. He mixed in all three or four of his pitches. That’s just kind of how it goes sometimes.”
When Jeff Francoeur followed with a single, the Indians went to their bullpen for Nick Hagadone, who stranded both runners. Cody Allen pitched the ninth.
This was the Jimenez the Indians believed they were getting (but have seldom seen) when they surrendered two top pitching prospects in late July 2011 to Colorado. He improved to 1-2 and lowered his ERA to 7.13.
“You’re always looking to be encouraged,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “I think we flew past encouraged and got excited.”
Cleveland gained a split in the four-game series, after losing the first two games, by scoring single runs in the first and third innings before blowing open the game with that six-run fifth inning.
Five runs in the fifth came with two outs, including the final three on Raburn’s first homer -- and all of that came against Davis, whose ERA jumped from 3.20 to 5.55.
“Wade wasn’t up in the zone,” manager Ned Yost said, “but a lot of balls that they hit were catching a little too much of the plate down.”
The loss dropped the Royals to 13-10 and out of first place in the American League Central Division. They now trail Detroit, 14-10, by one-half game.
And now the schedule turns tough. The arrival Tuesday night of Tampa Bay, for a three-game series, begins a run of 32 games in which all but three are against teams that posted winning records in 2012.
“We’ve got Shieldsy (James Shields) going (Tuesday),” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “That’s why we got a guy like that, for situations like this. It’ll be a big game with him facing Tampa, but we’re all right.
“Just shake this off and come (Tuesday).”
The Indians jumped to a 1-0 lead with one out in the first inning when Jason Kipnis sent a 1-1 change-up over the center-field wall for a homer and a harbinger.
Davis then walked Asdrubal Cabrera, who went to second on Nick Swisher’s single to left. Cabrera tried to score on Mark Reynolds’ single to center, but Lorenzo Cain made a strong throw for an out at home.
Davis completed a 28-pitch inning by striking out Carlos Santana.
It was still 1-0 when Michael Brantley started the Cleveland third with a double to center. That turned into a run when Cabrera sliced an RBI single past third.
Brantley started the six-run fifth with a sharp one-out grounder past first for his second double of the game. Davis then walked Kipnis before Cabrera yanked an RBI double to right for a 3-0 lead.
Davis had a chance to limit that inning’s damage to one run when Swisher grounded out against a shortened infield before everything fell apart.
Reynolds poked a two-out RBI single into right, and Santana followed with an RBI double. That made it 5-0 and, finally, the Royals activated their bullpen.
It wasn’t soon enough.
Raburn launched a three-run homer to left, which made it 8-0, before Yost got Luke Hochevar into the game.