The Royals spent their pre-game hours Thursday digesting José Guillen’s Wednesday night rant, shuffling their roster and holding yet another clubhouse meeting. And for what?
This? Getting handcuffed by Minnesota right-hander Kevin Slowey?
Really? Yep, really.
The Twins completed a three-game sweep with a 5-1 victory that sent the Royals to their 11th straight loss. That is, not surprisingly, the longest losing streak this season in the big leagues.
It is not particularly new to the Royals, however. They set a club record by losing 19 straight in 2005 and had skids of 11 and 13 losses in 2006.
And this streak, if Thursday night is any indication, could go awhile. The Royals managed just six hits against Slowey, who won for just the second time in six decisions.
Royals starter Luke Hochevar, 3-5, opened with three shutout innings before allowing single runs in the fourth and fifth. He departed in a three-run sixth that, for all purposes, sealed this latest loss.
The Royals completed the first one-third of their season at 21-33, which puts them on pace to finish 63-99.
Carlos Gomez led Minnesota’s 13-hit attack with three singles and a double. His two-run single capped the three-run sixth. Alexi Casilla contributed two singles and a double, while Joe Mauer had a single and a double.
The Royals shook up their roster before the game by optioning designated hitter Billy Butler to Class AAA Omaha, placing reliever Leo Nuñez on the disabled list and shifting Brett Tomko to the bullpen.
Up from Omaha are infielder Mike Aviles and reliever Neal Musser. Kyle Davies will arrive Saturday in time to replace Tomko in the rotation.
Slowey was terrific in a 101-pitch performance for his first career complete game. He struck out six, walked none and didn’t allow a runner to reach second until David DeJesus’ one-out double in the ninth inning.
The Royals avoided a shutout on Alex Gordon’s two-out RBI double.
The Twins opened the scoring with Michael Cuddyer’s RBI single in the fourth but missed the chance for a big inning.
Casilla was thrown out at home _ actually he went out of the baseline in an effort to avoid a tag — and Hochevar battled back from a 3-0 count to Mike Lamb with the bases loaded and two outs.
Lamb sliced a foul pop to left on a full count that DeJesus snagged at the wall.
The Twins extended their lead to 2-0 in the fifth on doubles by Gomez and Mauer before knocking out Hochevar in a three-run sixth.
Jason Kubel and Craig Monroe led off with ground-ball singles before Lamb put down a sacrifice bunt. Hochevar fielded the ball and, for some reason, looked first to second — which was uncovered.
The glance allowed Lamb to beat the throw to first for a bunt single that loaded the bases.
Brendan Harris boosted the lead to 3-0 on a sacrifice fly to right that allowed all runners to move up. That finished Hochevar, but not the Twins.
Gomez ripped a two-run single up the middle against Ron Mahay and a drawn-in infield for a 5-0 lead.