The slide continues for the Royals with no end in sight. The breakdown Tuesday was two costly throwing errors that led to two unearned runs in a 2-1 loss to the Texas Rangers at Kauffman Stadium.
Tension is growing in the stands, too. Security personnel removed one fan when his heckling of outfielder José Guillen reached the point where Guillen needed to be restrained.
It’s not pretty right now in any way.
“Obviously, it was untimely errors,” manager Trey Hillman said, “and (we were) unable do anything both from the mound and defensively to keep those runs from coming in.”
The Royals didn’t do much offensively, either.
Texas starter Kevin Millwood, 8-7, yielded just the one run in registering his second straight complete game. He scattered nine hits in a tidy 94-pitch effort.
“Those guys were aggressive, you know?” Millwood said. “I was throwing strikes early, and they just started swinging the bats.”
Another word for that is impatience.
“We unloaded on a lot of borderline and bad pitches tonight,” Hillman said. “A veteran pitcher will get you to do that, and offensively you got to be more disciplined. We will eventually get there. That’s part of the experience.”
The Royals nearly got there in the ninth when singles from Billy Butler and Miguel Olivo put the tying and winning runs aboard. Millwood ended the game by retiring pinch-hitter Esteban German on a fielder’s-choice grounder to short.
German swung at the first pitch.
About those errors:
The Rangers scored in the first inning against Zack Greinke after shortstop Mike Aviles made a bad throw on Joaquin Arias’ leadoff grounder. The winning run scored in the eighth against Ramon Ramirez when Olivo fielded a squibber up the third-base line and threw the ball into right field.
The irony is the Royals also produced a number of sparkling defensive plays. Joey Gathright and Guillen made leaping catches at the outfield wall, and Aviles atoned for his error with a sparkling run-saving play in the seventh.
It just wasn’t enough. The Royals lost for the 16th time in 19 games and fell to 56-76.
Greinke limited the Rangers to one unearned run in six innings, but it was six tough innings. He worked often with runners on base and took a sharp grounder by Michael Young off of his right foot in the fifth inning.
“It was just a little bruise,” Greinke said. “I’ll be 100 percent by the next start. But that was nice instead of a base-hit with (Josh) Hamilton and (Milton) Bradley on deck, you don’t want anyone on base.”
Greinke allowed four hits while striking out five and walking one. He lowered his ERA to 3.72 but settled for a no-decision.
Texas broke a 1-1 tie after Ramirez, 2-2, started the eighth by walking Bradley after jumping ahead 0-2 in the count.
Hank Blalock’s topper turned into a run after Olivo threw wildly to first. The ball zoomed up the right-field line past a diving Ross Gload and permitted pinch-runner Brandon Boggs to score from first.
“I went too quick,” Olivo said. “I threw the ball without really seeing (the base). Things happen. If I make that play, maybe we’re still playing.”
The error overshadowed a three-hit game for Olivo, who drove in the Royals’ only run with a two-out double in the fifth.
The Royals tried to answer when Aviles opened their eighth with a single up the middle. Alberto Callaspo’s sacrifice moved Aviles to second, but Millwood retired David DeJesus on a soft pop to short.
Guillen ended the inning with a fly to right.
The problem with the fan spanned a few innings early in the game. It started when Guillen settled for a single on a drive off the left-field wall in the second inning. It escalated when Guillen ended the fourth inning with a fly to left.
“When I got that hit to left field,” Guillen said, “that guy started saying all kinds of stuff. Why didn’t I make it to second? Hey, I hit the ball hard. People who know baseball know the guy (Marlon Byrd) made a nice play. I had no chance to make it to second.
“I can deal with that. But the (next) at-bat, when I hit the ball to left field, he said the magic words. Something personal about my family. I don’t deal well with that. That’s enough right there.”
Third-base coach Luis Silverio and others restrained Guillen; the fan was eventually taken away by security personnel.
“I understand who I am,” Guillen said, “and the money that I’m making. I understand that I’m hitting .250, and the fans are expecting a lot more than they’re seeing. But the word he said, trust me, anybody would want to go there and kick his (backside).”