Not only is there still no end in sight for the Royals in their ongoing collapse. It’s now reached the point where they seem to be inventing ways to lose.
The Royals suffered their 12th straight loss Friday night when Gil Meche and the bullpen couldn’t hold a three-run lead in a 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.
That was bad enough.
What was worse — far worse — is the Royals saw the tying run snatched away in the sixth inning when David DeJesus got trapped off second base before Joey Gathright could cross the plate on Esteban German’s two-out single.
The Royals had runners at first and second against Indians starter Cliff Lee when German poked a single into right. Gathright was poised to score easily before right fielder Ben Francisco threw behind DeJesus, who couldn’t scramble back to second before shortstop Jhonny Peralta applied the tag.
Royals manager Trey Hillman argued briefly with home-plate umpire Brian Runge, but replays seemed to confirm the call: DeJesus was tagged out before Gathright crossed the plate.
Plays like that have the Royals chasing down the worst moments of their 40-year history. The 12 straight losses match their third-longest skid; they also lost 12 from June 28-July 13, 1997. They had a 13-game skid in 2006 and a 19-game skid in 2005.
Grady Sizemore opened the game with a homer against Meche, but the Royals rouged up Lee, the American League ERA leader, for two runs in the second and two more in the fourth.
Meche carried that 4-1 lead into the fifth before giving up another homer to Sizemore, a two-run jolt into the right-field fountains.
Demoted starter Brett Tomko, in his first relief outing since March 31, replaced Meche to start the sixth and surrendered a two-run homer to Casey Blake.
That ended the scoring.
Lee improved to 8-1 despite allowing four runs and 10 hits in six innings. Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez and Joe Borowski closed out the victory — just the third for the Indians in their last 13 games. The end was excruciating.
Borowski pitched around German’s one-out double in the ninth for his fourth save in six chances. Borowski retired Alex Gordon on a routine fly to left before Sizemore ran down José Guillen’s deep fly in left-center gap for the final out.
Tomko, 2-7, was the loser.
Meche opened the game with six successive fastballs to Sizemore, who timed the sixth one — at 93 mph — well enough to yank it 417 feet over the right-field wall for a 1-0 lead.
Miguel Olivo opened the Royals’ second with a walk — the first walk by a Royals player in 39 innings. Mark Teahen followed with a single into center.
John Buck fouled off a bunt — a bunt? — before lining an RBI double past Francisco. Teahen scored the go-ahead run on Gathright’s ground-out to short.
The Royals extended their lead to 4-1 in the fourth after Teahen led off with a triple past first. Buck followed with another RBI double, a hard grounder between past third baseman Andy Marte.
Buck moved to third on Tony Peña’s grounder to second and scored on DeJesus’ bloop single to center.
The Indians roughed up Meche in a two-run fifth, and it should have been more.
Asdrubal Cabrera ripped a one-out double past Gathright in center but tried for third and was cut down easily by a strong relay from German for the second out.
Marte pulled a single through the left side, and Sizemore followed with his second homer of the game. This one was a 403-foot rocket into right-field fountains that trimmed the Royals’ lead to 4-3.
David Dellucci sliced a double to left before Meche walked Francisco. Meche avoided further damage when Victor Martinez popped to short.
That was it for Meche, though. He threw 107 pitches in his five innings, while allowing three runs and six hits.