Finding a suitable low-note encore for losing a series at Houston is no easy task, but the Royals pulled it off Thursday night by becoming the first club to roll over for Angels right-hander Joe Blanton.
Yep, that’s where things are at the moment after
Los Angeles backed Blanton with a four-homer barrage against former teammate Ervin Santana in a 5-4 victory at Kauffman Stadium in the opener to a four-game weekend series.
Blanton entered the night at 0-7 with a 6.62 ERA and absorbed a beating 10 days ago from the Royals at Angels Stadium, when he yielded seven runs and 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Royals managed only two runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings in the rematch. Sean Burnett, Michael Kohn, Scott Downs, Garrett Richards, Ernesto Frieri and Robert Coello held on for the victory.
Frieri gave up two runs in the ninth before Coello ended the game, with the tying and winning runs on base, by retiring Alcides Escobar on a soft fly to right.
So, yes, it got interesting.
Lorenzo Cain grounded a one-out single through the left side and took second on defensive indifference. Salvy Perez lined an RBI single into center exiting for pinch-hitter David Lough.
The Royals then used two pinch-hitters: Elliot Johnson fouled out, but George Kottaras, after Lough took second on indifference, pulled an RBI single through the right side.
A walk to Chris Getz put the winning run on base before Coello retired Escobar for his first save.
Mike Trout set the tone with a towering one-out homer in the first inning. Albert Pujols opened the fourth inning with a no-doubt blast in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.
Chris Iannetta found the Royals’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall while leading off the fifth before Mark Trumbo finished Santana with a two-run drive into that same bullpen with two outs in the eighth.
The four homers allowed matched Santana’s career high. He also yielded four on April 24, 2012 while pitching for the Angels in a 5-0 loss at Tampa Bay.
Santana, 3-4, lost his third straight start, while the Royals fell two games under .500, at 21-23, for the first time since opening the season with two losses. They have lost six of their last seven and 13 of their last 17.
Trumbo’s homer seemed to put the game away after the Royals left the tying runs on base in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Blanton, 1-7, carried a 3-2 lead into the seventh, which Eric Hosmer opened with a single. Cain’s grounder to short resulted in a force at second before Perez blooped a single into center. Cain took third.
The Angels called on Burnett for a left-on-left matchup against Mike Moustakas, but the Royals countered by sending up Miguel Tejada as a pinch-hitter.
Tejada grounded into a double play.
After Trumbo’s homer made it 5-2, the Angels used three pitchers to get through the eighth, when two walks enabled the Royals to get Billy Butler to the plate as the tying run with two outs.
Butler grounded into a force at second.
Trout provided the Angels with a quick lead when he crushed an 0-1 fastball from Santana for a 433-foot drive to center field for a one-out homer in the first inning.
It seemed farther: The ball cleared the batter’s eye beyond the wall.
It stayed 1-0 until Pujols opened the fourth inning with a 398-foot drive that cleared the left-center wall. It also came on a fastball.
Blanton, meanwhile, needed just seven pitches to retire the Royals in the first inning and seven more for another zero in the second.
The Royals broke through after Getz led off the fourth with a double into the right-field corner. He came around on grounders to second by Escobar and Alex Gordon.
LA quickly answered when Iannetta started the fifth with a homer into the Royals’ bullpen, but the Royals countered later in the inning after Cain pumped a one-out double into the right-center gap.
Perez followed with a single to center, but third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez held Cain at third.
Moustakas hit a potential double-play grounder to short, but beat the relay by second baseman Howie Kendrick. That permitted Cain to score and cut the score to 3-2.
The Royals got the tying run into scoring position in the sixth on Escobar’s one-out single and two-out steal, but Blanton struck out Butler on a full count.