The word is “inconsistent,” and Royals manager Ned Yost uses it often enough. It is a catch-all, relatively innocuous way to describe his toothless offense, a unit that once again came up short in a 6-1 loss to the Angels on Friday night.
The Royals (23-24) watched a first-inning rally fizzle, recorded only three more hits the entire night and deepened their season-long disquiet. They entered the game ranked 14th in the American League in runs scored. Their effort on Friday did not help that cause.
“It’s frustrating,” Yost said. “Just not a lot going on offensively right now.”
For the fourth time in four starts, Danny Duffy’s offense gave him next to nothing. But for the first time in those four appearances, Duffy (2-4, 2.59 ERA) was lackluster. He held the line into the sixth, when the Angels busted him up for two runs to inflate their advantage to four. Duffy gave up a season-high five runs in six innings.
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“I made some good pitches tonight,” Duffy said. “But when I didn’t, they capitalized.”
Los Angeles tacked on another run off reliever Louis Coleman in the seventh.
With a victory on Wednesday, the Royals redeemed themselves and finished a lengthy homestand with a 5-4 record. They flew to the West Coast on Thursday afternoon for a three-game trip. They host Houston next week before starting another road trip in Toronto and St. Louis.
The disjointed schedule brought them into Angels Stadium, the home of one of the American League’s best. The Angels had won four of their last five.
The Royals countered with a makeshift lineup. Catcher Salvador Perez rode the bench for the third game in a row due to an injured hand. Second baseman Omar Infante opened a rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Omaha. Mike Moustakas, the team’s once-promising third baseman, started his own minor-league rejuvenation campaign with the Storm Chasers.
The remnants of the roster gathered to face lefty C.J. Wilson, and granted Duffy a first-inning lead. The Royals forced Wilson to throw 29 pitches in the first inning. Alex Gordon cracked an RBI single over a leaping Howie Kendrick to score Nori Aoki. Wilson walked Danny Valencia to load the bases.
Lorenzo Cain stepped to the dish with a chance to break the game open. Instead, he stared at a 92-mph fastball for the inning’s third out.
“When you’re going good, you take advantage of those situations,” Yost said. “When you’re not, you squeak out one run, and that’s it.”
In his previous outing, Duffy carried a perfect game into the seventh inning. He lasted three pitches this time. Kendrick nubbed a ball down the third base line that decelerated well shy of the bag and stayed fair. It was a hit, although one without consequence. Duffy recorded the next three outs in six pitches.
It was the second inning that smarted. Angels catcher Chris Iannetta took advantage of a high fastball for a solo home run. He had gone 67 2/3 innings without allowing a long ball. A pair of singles cost him the lead, as Collin Cowgill laced the go-ahead single for Los Angeles.
For Duffy, the next edition of a streak between home runs did not last nearly as long. Mike Trout detonated a changeup for another solo shot.
“That second streak ended pretty quick,” Duffy said.
After that first inning, the Royals managed two hits in their next four frames. Both belonged to Nori Aoki. He led off the fifth with a double. Two batters later, Eric Hosmer flied out to center. With two outs, Aoki elected to tag up for third, anyway. Trout cut him down with a tremendous peg to erase the threat.
Yost felt the decision by Aoki was ill-advised. “You don’t challenge in that situation,” he said.
“Looking back at it now, I guess, because it was two outs, I maybe shouldn’t have gone there,” Aoki said through his translator. “But I thought I could get to third.”
He was wrong. Another rally whimpered away meekly in the sixth. Wilson gave them an opening: He hit Gordon with a fastball and walked Cain. But with two out, Pedro Ciriaco, Infante’s light-hitting replacement, grounded out.
“You’re not going to score many runs,” Yost said, “when you get five hits on the night.”