ARLINGTON, Texas — Instead of getting a carry-over boost from their all-nighter in St. Louis, the Royals opened a three-game weekend series Friday at Texas by encapsulating their season in one telling and decisive inning.
The result was a 7-2 loss at the Ballpark in Arlington, which makes nine losses for the Royals in 10 games; and 20 losses in their last 25.
It also closed out a demoralizing 8-20 month that saw them fall from first to last in the American League Central Division.
All you need to know is the third inning. See if this sounds familiar.
The Royals, with the score 0-0, got a leadoff double from Adam Moore on a drive that sailed over the head of right fielder Nelson Cruz.
Chris Getz followed with an infield single by beating the throw from shortstop Elvis Andrus while Moore held second.
Texas lefty Derek Holland struck out Alex Gordon, but Alcides Escobar drove an RBI single up the middle that also moved Getz to third — and Escobar took second when Leonys Martin threw to third.
So, one run in, runners on second and third with only one out and the middle of the order coming up.
One run was all the Royals got.
The runners held on Lorenzo Cain’s hopper back to the mound, and Billy Butler ended the inning by grounding out — technically, the out was runner’s interference when Escobar ran into third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Shift to the bottom of the inning.
Royals starter Wade Davis retired the first two hitters, which put him in reach of the shutdown inning all clubs crave after scoring themselves.
Instead, it all fell apart.
David Murphy legged out a soft grounder up the middle for a single when Escobar couldn’t make a barehanded pick-up.
Lance Berkman followed with a sharp grounder to the right side. Second baseman Chris Getz, playing in short right field, bobbled the ball for just an instant, but it was enough for Berkman to turn it into another single.
Runners at first and second.
Beltre rammed a grounder up the middle for a game-tying single.
Davis then fell behind 3-1 on Nelson Cruz and offered up a fastball, which Cruz simply crushed — a 419-foot drive to left for a three-run homer and a 4-1 lead.
OK, maybe the Royals were still recovering from the rain-delayed victory over the Cardinals. They didn’t get get to their hotel until 7 a.m. That might seem more plausible had it not happened so often before.
The third inning was a greatest mis-hits album. An offensive opportunity not quite maximized. A defensive play not quite made. A jam not quite escaped. And a killer homer. A lot of not-quites and a knockout punch.
There was more, of course, but it was more of the same. White noise.
Holland (5-2) gave up two runs and eight hits in seven innings. He struck out eight and walked one. Tanner Scheppers pitched the eighth before Joe Nathan closed it out in a non-save situation.
The Rangers, who finished with 14 hits, put the game away with a two-run sixth — just after the Royals had closed to within 4-2 on Eric Hosmer’s two-out RBI single in the top of the inning.
Davis was still in at that point, and he began the inning by yielding a single to Mitch Moreland before A.J. Pierzynski sent a ball sufficiently deep to center that it required a review to determine it didn’t leave the yard.
It was a double, and it finished Davis.
In came Bruce Chen, who walked Jurickson Profar, which loaded the bases. Martin followed with a drive to deep center just beyond Cain’s reach. (Yep, another not-quite.)
The runners had to hold to ensure it wasn’t caught, but two scored and Martin pulled into second with a double. That made it 6-2; Chen did some nifty work in keeping it from getting worse.
All six runs went to Davis, whose ERA spiked to 6.16 as he fell to 3-5 while allowing 10 hits in five-plus innings.
Texas got its final run when Luke Hochevar surrendered a leadoff homer in the seventh to Beltre, who turned around a 1-2 breaking ball. It was Beltre’s fourth hit of the game.