KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Tim Collins jogged to the mound in the 10th inning Sunday afternoon with an incredibly difficult task ahead of him — the bases were loaded with no outs in a tie ballgame.
What he did not know, is that he was about to put the finishing touches on a depressing stat that would not only overshadow his team's six-run comeback in a 9-8 loss to I-70 rival St. Louis, but two ejections, as well.
In a moment befitting a home stand that began with a 19-1 defeat, Collins walked two of the next three hitters and broke a 7-7 tie before a largely pro-St. Louis crowd of 28,195 at Kauffman Stadium.
"I had trouble throwing strikes," Collins said, "and that's what happens."
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Collins was not the only Royals pitcher with that problem. While St. Louis pitchers issued only one walk, eight Royals' pitchers combined to tie a season-high with 13 walks, which drew an appropriate amount of disappointment from all involved.
"At this level of the game, you can't defend a walk," said Royals starter Sean O'Sullivan, who departed after surrendering eight hits, seven earned runs and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. "You can't afford to put guys on."
"Walks," reliever Louis Coleman said simply, "will kill you."
On and on it went, with good reason. Coleman, who took the first loss of his big-league career, got the deciding 10th inning started with a leadoff walk to Tyler Greene, who advanced to second when Albert Pujols reached first on a throwing error by second baseman Mike Aviles.
Coleman hit the next batter, Gerald Laird, in the hand while he was pulling back from a bunt. This loaded the bases for Lance Berkman and prompted a pitching switch to Collins, who got some hopes up by getting Berkman to pop out weakly for the first out.
But Yadier Molina and Colby Rasmus — who combined for four RBIs and six walks in the game — struck again, as the pair drew back-to-back walks to take a 9-7 lead the Cardinals would not relinquish.
This one didn't seem like it would be so close early on. The Cardinals rocked O'Sullivan, taking a 7-1 lead into the Royals' half of the fifth before an RBI single by Aviles and a solo home run by Jeff Francoeur finally chased St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia in the sixth.
The Royals made the score 7-5 with a two-run homer by Wilson Betemit, and the fireworks occurred in the seventh inning. After Royals reliever Everett Teaford issued a one-out walk, home plate umpire Angel Campos ejected Royals catcher Matt Treanor for arguing with him, even though the veteran never left his crouch.
This prompted a visit to home plate by Royals manager Ned Yost, who argued vehemently with Campos — a minor-league umpire — and was thrown out, as well.
"He's a young umpire, and out of respect for young umpires, we try not to say too much from the bench... they don't need people screaming and yelling at them," Yost said. "But Matt Treanor did a great job in that situation. Nobody in the park knew (what they were talking about). Nobody. And to eject a guy under those circumstances isn't right."
Perhaps riled up by the episode, the Royals tied the score 7-7 with a solo home run by Alex Gordon and an RBI single by Betemit in the seventh.
Neither team scored over the next two innings, though Royals closer Joakim Soria had to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the ninth.
After St. Louis took its 9-7 lead in the 10th, an RBI double by Brayan Pena cut a two-run deficit to one in the Royals' half of the 10th, but the rally fell short when St. Louis closer Fernando Salas earned the win for reliever Jason Motte by retiring the next two hitters.
Not that the result was entirely surprising.
"For the most part," Treanor said, "you're not going to see too many teams win ballgames when you're walking 13 guys."