Blanton has no answers against KC offense
Right-hander allows seven runs on 12 hits over just 4 2/3 frames
ANAHEIM -- Joe Blanton entered Monday's start hoping to end one streak and continue another. As the Angels fell 11-4 to the Royals on Monday night at Angel Stadium, Blanton did end one streak and continue another, but not in the way he hoped.
The right-hander's stretch of seven straight starts without a win continued, while his run of three straight quality starts was brought to an immediate halt.
"Joe looks like he is making better starts," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously, tonight wasn't according to the game plan, but we will turn the page on it for Joe and hopefully he gets where he needs to be for his next start."
Blanton entered Monday allowing just eight runs in his previous 20 2/3 innings of work and a 1.76 career ERA against the Royals, but none of that mattered as he allowed seven runs on 12 hits in just 4 2/3 innings, dropping his record to 0-7 with a 6.46 ERA since joining the Angels.
Despite the numbers, Blanton felt he threw the ball well and simply said baseball "is a messed up game," where fluky things happen.
"I felt like I threw the ball good tonight," Blanton said. "When they made contact, it found holes -- broken bats fell in, infield singles, bunts found their way down the line. It was one of those weird games. I felt I had good stuff, but when they made contact, it found holes. Not a lot you can do about that."
The loss -- the Angels' second in a row -- was certainly not how the team envisioned beginning a nine-game homestand. The Angels were coming off a series win in Chicago and hoping to build momentum, but instead fell to 14-24, remain 10 games back of the Texas Rangers and need to finish 76-48 to win 90 games.
"The key is to put this game behind us," Blanton said. "Don't let the highs get too high because we won three games in a row and because we lost bad tonight, don't let that feel too bad. Come take two out of three, and it's a good series."
Despite allowing a run in the first inning, Blanton struck out five of the first eight batters he faced and appeared to be on pace for his fourth straight quality start.
Then, in the top of the third, it all fell apart.
The Royals scored two in the third, one in the fourth and three in the fifth as 10 of the final 18 batters Blanton faced recorded hits.
"I think when these guys got to the second time around they had a better idea and that's when he maybe started to miss with some of his pitches and they hit the ball hard," Scioscia said.
Blanton recorded the first out of the third inning, but a pair of infield singles and stolen bases by Jarrod Dyson and Alcides Escobar put two runners in scoring position for Billy Butler, who hit a two-run single and finished the night with five RBIs and also tied a career high with five hits.
"I knew I'd been getting closer, I'd been doing a lot of early work on the field," said Butler, who was in a 4-for-35 slump over the past nine games. "I'm still doing early work tomorrow on the field because it's just one game and I feel like I'm getting better. Right now, the more swings I take before the game, the better I feel in the game. I need to get my rhythm and my tempo down. It worked today so I'm going to do it again."
More problems came in the fifth as Blanton surrendered four hits over five batters, allowing the Royals to blow the game open and extend their lead to 7-1.
Just as he did in the third, Blanton retired the first batter of the fifth, but Butler, Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain hit consecutive singles that paved the way for Salvador Perez's two-out, two-run double.
Kansas City scored eight of its 11 runs with two outs -- a situation that has troubled Angels' pitchers all season as 48 percent of the runs the Angels have surrendered have come with two outs.
After Blanton was pulled in the fifth, the Royals' offense kept coming as it scored three more in the sixth -- snapping a 17 2/3 inning scoreless streak by the Angels' bullpen -- and once in the seventh.
The Angels first run came in the third inning when Alberto Callaspo led off with a double and scored on an RBI single, courtesy of Chris Iannetta. The single and the run may have been irrelevant in the game, but it was Iannetta's second hit over the past three games after he snapped an 0-for-23 slump on Saturday.