KANSAS CITY, Mo. —The Royals had a chance Sunday — a pretty good one, it seemed — to fend off that feeling of indignity that's become all-too-common around here.
Sure, they were on the verge of being swept at home by the team with the league's worst record. And yes, their offense has been pretty putrid of late.
But make no mistake about it: in the Twins, the Royals were facing a team that seemed to be worse off. Minnesota, which has been decimated by injuries, threw out another patchwork lineup Sunday and sent a pitcher to the mound with a sky-high ERA whose pre-game warmup was so shaky even he didn't think he'd be effective.
So of, course, you know what that means. The Twins won a 6-0 snoozefest at Kauffman Stadium that left a crowd of 21,704 — not to mention Royals manager Ned Yost — largely shaking their heads.
"The fact the Minnesota Twins came in here with all their stars gone... kind of a mix-and-match lineup, if you will, and they kicked our butts four straight," Yost said.
That, plus the fact it was the Royals' 17th loss in their last 23 games, is ugly enough.
But the Royals, who showed an undeniable knack for mounting comebacks earlier this season, only mustered seven hits and failed to get a single extra-base hit for the second consecutive game, which prompted questions about the team's energy level that Yost quickly shot down.
"The intensity in the dugout was good," Yost said. "But when you're struggling like we are, you look sluggish."
Some of it also had to do with Minnesota starter Brian Duensing, who entered the game with a 5.37 ERA but kept the Royals off balance by changing speeds and making big pitches for eight scoreless innings — even though he couldn't throw a strike during his pregame warmup.
"I didn't know where the ball was going, my off-speed was up in the zone," said a relieved Duensing, who improved to 3-5. "I tried to throw the ball in, it would go out. I tried to throw the ball out, it would go out even farther. Nothing was really working."
Then the game started. And in some ways, this loss was harder to bear for the Royals' than the one on Saturday, when Minnesota won 7-2 despite trotting out a lineup that had two players that began the game with more than 11 RBIs. At least they were able to scratch out a couple runs.
The Royals are 24-34 and ever closer to the AL Central cellar that the Twins (21-37) inhabit.
"By far, this is the most disappointing four games we've played all season," Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "We had a chance to get the ball rolling, and to do this (stunk)."
The Royals begin another four-game home series Monday against Toronto, and KCpitcher Jeff Francis said it would do the team good to move on quickly.
"I have confidence in this group," Francis said. "I think we have a lot of guys that are going to show up tomorrow and not even remember it."