The carry-over from a three-game sweep of Oakland, if any, dissipated quickly Friday for the Royals in an 9-3 capitulation to the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.
The knockout came quickly.
Royals starter Brandon Duckworth paid for a three-walk second inning by allowing two runs. The Indians then opened the fifth inning with seven straight singles, against Duckworth and two relievers, in a six-run outburst that extended the lead to 8-0.
The game, at that point, was a snoozer best handled by brews, brats and a rabid anticipation of post-game fireworks. The crowd totaled 21,107, which proved again that this city loves fireworks.
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The Royals avoided the shutout with a three-run rally in the seventh inning against reliever Tom Mastny. The highlight was Kila Ka’aihue’s first big-league hit, a single that blooped into right field.
Indians starter Anthony Reyes allowed just one hit in three shutout innings before departing because of a sore right elbow _ a problem that forced him to the disabled list earlier this year while still in the Cardinals’ organization.
That elbow must have been really barking to come out of this one.
Edward Mujica replaced Reyes to start the fourth and worked two scoreless innings despite allowing four hits. Mastny held the shutout through the sixth before the Royals roused themselves in the seventh.
Ross Gload led off with a double, went to third on Ka’aihue’s one-out single. David DeJesus delivered a sacrifice fly for the first run before Mike Aviles punched a single that sent Ka’aihue to third.
José Guillen followed with a two-run double off the left-field wall.
That was it, though.
Cleveland added its final run in the ninth inning against Jeff Fulchino after Devon Lowery made his big-league debut by pitching a scoreless eighth.
Rafael Betancourt and Masa Kobayashi closed out the Indians’ 19th victory in their last 26 games. That includes a three-game sweep last month over the Royals in Cleveland.
Mujica, 2-1, got the victory, while Duckworth fell to 2-1 after allowing five runs in four-plus innings.
The Indians’ 12-hit attack included at least one from eight of their nine starters. Jhnonny Peralta and Victor Martinez each had two RBIs. Guillen had two of the Royals’ nine hits, while Billy Butler’s hitting streak ended at 10 games.
The Royals had won four of their previous five games before Friday’s loss dropped them to 60-80 and reduced their tragic number to four.
Any combination of four losses by the Royals or four victories by the White Sox will mathematically eliminate the Royals from the American League Central Division race and playoff contention.
The Royals were eliminated Friday from the possibility of reaching the playoffs as a wild-card qualifier.
Duckworth worked himself into a second-inning jam by sandwiching two walks around a single by Martinez. The Indians got one run when Ryan Garko grounded into a double play.
But Duckworth issued another walk before Asdrubel Cabrera made it 2-0 by pulling an RBI single through the right side.
The Indians knocked out Duckworth by opening a six-run fifth with successive singles by Cabrera, Grady Sizemore and Jamey Carroll. That pushed the lead to 3-0.
Joel Peralta replaced Duckworth but had no answers.
David Dellucci pulled an RBI single off Ka’aihue’s glove at first. Jhonny Peralta then ripped an RBI single to center. That made it 5-0 with still no outs.
Martinez made it six straight singles, which boosted the lead to 6-0 and finished Joel Peralta. In came Yasuhiko Yabuta for his first big-league appearance since June 22.
Shin-Soo Choo made it 7-0 by pulling another single off Ka’aihue’s glove before Garko grounded into his second run-scoring double play. Franklin Gutierrez ended the inning with a grounder to short.
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