Let’s seewhen do the Royals leave town again?
Not til Monday?
That’s not nearly soon enough if, as it appears from the last two games, Kauffman Stadium is going to reinstitute its April chill.
The Royals coughed up another lead Thursday afternoon in a 5-3 loss that permitted the Baltimore Orioles to sweep the two-game series. So the Royals are now 4-15 at home as they head into a three-game weekend home series against Arizona.
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This one wasn’t quite as bad as Wednesday night, when the Royals carried a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning before things turned sour and resulted, eventually, in a 4-3 loss in 15 innings.
It was still bad enough – and it pinned the first series loss on the Royals since they stumbled through a 0-10 homestand from April 13-23 against Cleveland, Detroit and Toronto.
“(Wednesday) night was a tough way to go out,” left fielder Alex Gordon said. “Today, we got out to an early lead and they bounced back. We just couldn’t answer. We’ve had guys in scoring position and just couldn’t come up with the hit. Me in particular.
“We’ve got to buckle down and figure out a way to get it done.”
The Royals were two for 10 with runners in scoring position Thursday after going one for eight in Wednesday’s loss. That might be due to an Orioles’ staff that entered the game with the second-best ERA in the American League.
“We’re not swinging the bats great by any stretch of the imagination,” manager Ned Yost said, “but, that being said, I thought they did a nice job.”
The Royals did sting Baltimore starter Brian Matusz for three runs in the third inning, but Luke Hochevar, 3-4, gave two of them right back on a homer in the fourth by Adam Jones, who hit the game-winning homer in Wednesday’s victory.
But Hochevar still carried a 3-2 lead into the seventh before things flat-lined after Wilson Betemit led off with a single. It was Betemit, the ex-Royal, who ignited Wednesday’s comeback with a homer in the ninth against Jonathan Broxton.
This time, Betemit scored the tying run from first when Chris Davis’ single to center got past Jarrod Dyson and rolled to the wall. Davis wound up on second.
“I wanted to dive for it,” Dyson said. “I charged it hard like I was going to go get it. Then when I got up underneath it, I realized it was lower than I’d thought it was. I put my brakes down and tried to get a glove on it.
“I should have just put my body in front of it.”
The ruling was a single and an error, and it finished Hochevar.
“That’s my job to slam the door right there at the end,” he said. “They put some good swings on the ball. That’s not how I want to end the day.”
Aaron Crow retired Robert Andino on a fly to right, but Davis tagged and went to third, which prompted the Royals to shorten their infield. Ryan Flaherty’s apparent safety squeeze went right to Crow, who held the runner and recorded the out.
But a walk to Luis Exposito turned over the lineup, and a walk to Xavier Avery loaded the bases for J.J. Hardy, who flicked a 1-2 fastball, a 97-mph fastball, into right field for a two-run single that gave the Orioles a 5-3 lead.
“He put it in play,” Crow said. “That happens sometimes, but I just didn’t get the job done. Putting those two guys on (with walks) gave them an extra run. In that situation, I’ve got to go out and attack those guys.
“If they beat you, so be it. But you just can’t give guys free bases. That ended up hurting me today.”
The Orioles’ bullpen took it from there.
Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson each worked one scoreless inning in closing out Matusz’s victory. Johnson got his 14th save in 14 chances; he has converted 22 in a row over the last two seasons.
Matusz, 3-4, gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
“With the lineup we have,” he said, “it doesn’t matter was the score is, we're still in the ballgame. As you saw (Wednesday) night coming from behind and today, we were able to come back and get five and hold them.
“It’s just a matter of staying in the battle and staying mentally tough.”
Matusz retired the first six Royals before Alcides Escobar opened the third with an infield single. Irving Falu followed with a single to center, which gave him at least one hit in all six games since his May 3 arrival from Class AAA Omaha.
Humberto Quintero then drove a two-run double over Jones’ head in center and went to third on the relay throw to the plate. Johnny Giavotella’s one-out single to right made it 3-0.
The Orioles answered immediately.
Markakis started the fourth with a line single to center, and Jones followed with a 411-foot homer to center. It remained 3-2 until the Baltimore seventh.
“There’s a good air about the team,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, whose club is atop the American League East Division at 25-14. “If we can stay close, we can make a run at somebody.”