It had to end some time, this longest winning streak by the Royals in more than five years. When it ended Saturday night, it did so in a sloppy 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals made three costly defensive misplays, which led to three runs, but it was simpler than that, really.
They just had no answers for Cardinals rookie Mitchell Boggs, a right-hander making his fourth big-league start and wearing a number, 68, that suggests job security might be an issue.
Less of an issue now, probably.
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Boggs improved to 3-0 by working around some early jams before settling into a groove and limiting the Royals to one run and four hits in six-plus innings. He handed off a 5-0 lead with runners at first and second and no outs in the seventh.
The Royals scored once on Ross Gload’s double against reliever Kyle McClellan, but they also ran into an out on the bases that caused the rally to fizzle.
That was it. The Royals managed just five hits, although David DeJesus extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double in the fifth.
The Royals had won six in a row before Saturday’s pratfall in front of their largest home crowd of the season at 37,537. To be fair, not everyone left disappointed. There was a lot of red among the sellout.
McClellan and Russ Springer closed out the Cardinals’ victory, which snapped a three-game overall skid. The Royals had won all four previous games in the annual I-70 Series, which concludes this afternoon.
The night started on an upbeat note when the Royals inducted former scouting director Art Stewart into their Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony. Stewart has worked with the club since its formation in 1969 and currently serves as a senior advisor to general manager Dayton Moore.
Boggs and Royals starter Kyle Davies then battled through three scoreless innings before mistakes started plaguing the Royals.
The Cardinals scored their first run when shortstop Mike Aviles threw away a potential double-play relay in the fourth inning. They got their second run when center fielder Joey Gathright misread a routine fly ball in the fifth.
Rick Ankiel hit a two-run homer in the sixth — nothing tainted about that — but St. Louis extended its lead to 5-0 in the seventh, and knocked out Royals starter Kyle Davies, when catcher Miguel Olivo dropped the ball at the plate after applying a tag to Ryan Ludwick.
Davies, 3-1, gave up five runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. Just three runs were earned. He deserved better, but he probably owed the gods a loss after escaping last Sunday with a no-decision after allowing five runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Giants.
The Royals rallied that day from a seven-run deficit to an 11-10 victory.
Boggs was 5-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 12 starts at Class AAA Memphis before the Cardinals purchased his contract before their June 6 game in Houston. He made one relief appearance before joining the rotation.
The Royals had him on the ropes early. They put two runners on base in the first and two again in the second — but got nothing. A one-out single by Aviles in the third produced the same result.
Davies didn’t permit a hit until Aaron Miles’ one-out single to deep short in the fourth. Albert Pujols followed with a sharp single into center, but Davies should have been out of the inning when Ankiel hit a potential double-play grounder to second.
Mark Grudzielanek flipped to Aviles for the force, but Aviles threw wildly to first for an error. Gload retrieved the ball and threw to Aviles in time to get an advancing Ankiel but not before Miles scored the game’s first run.
The Cardinals extended their lead to 2-0 in the fifth after Ludwick’s one-out double into the left-center gap. Gathright misread Chris Duncan’s floater into center, perhaps fooled by the full swing, and broke in late.
No error, but the ball plopped for an RBI single.
Ankiel’s homer, his 15th of the season, extended the lead to 4-0 in the sixth. It was a 407-foot drive on a 1-0 fastball.