Hellickson roughed up as Rays fall to Royals
In makeup of snowed-out game, righty lasts just 2 2/3 innings
KANSAS CITY -- The Rays will remember their one-game business trip to Kauffman Stadium as 1,256 miles of bad road.
Tampa Bay had to leave the friendly confines of home for a makeup date in Kansas City, and the Rays had no more fun on Monday than when the original May 2 game was postponed because of a snowstorm and 34-degree weather.
Jeremy Hellickson again didn't have it, Wil Myers couldn't deliver against his former organization, Joe Maddon was ejected and the Rays took an 11-1 drubbing from the Royals to fall 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East.
So now it's back to Tropicana Field and the homestand Tampa Bay was enjoying before it was so rudely interrupted.
Hellickson continued an alarming trend, as he failed to complete five innings for the fifth time in his last six starts. The right-hander was gone after just 2 2/3 innings and the Royals were already up, 5-0, and in cruise control.
Maddon didn't think the one-game trip was the reason for a flat performance.
"I thought when the game began, we were in a pretty good place," Maddon said. "When you don't pitch, when you give up the four-spot early, that makes it much more difficult."
Hellickson surrendered three singles and a run in the first, but it was the third inning that really left the Rays in a serious predicament. The Royals didn't strike the ball consistently hard, but they were efficient in finding holes and running the bases aggressively.
It started innocently, with Emilio Bonifacio hitting a grounder to third. Kelly Johnson fielded the ball, but Bonifacio beat the throw to first. Then a walk to Eric Hosmer, a fisted RBI bloop single to right by Billy Butler and a well-struck double by Mike Moustakas put Kansas City on a path to a four-run inning.
While that frame was irritating for Maddon, the fourth was even more so.
The Rays had already scored one off Jeremy Guthrie and the bases were loaded with two outs when David DeJesus was called out on strikes. Maddon argued from the dugout with home-plate umpire Greg Gibson and was ejected for the fourth time this year.
"I still believe the at-bat with DeJesus is a big play," Maddon said. "He's working a good at-bat. He's the kind of kid who does not swing at bad pitches. So then to reward a pitcher on a bad pitch at a crucial moment ... I didn't like that."
The subplot to Monday's big-picture story was how the day would go for Myers, who was acquired by Tampa Bay for James Shields and Wade Davis in the offseason. Myers finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first Major League game at Kauffman Stadium.
"It was cool to be back here," said Myers, who helped fill the stadium for the 2012 Futures Game. "I just had a bad game. I'm not seeing the ball well right now. The feeling will come back at some point."
Hellickson felt that his stuff on Monday was better than the results would indicate. But he couldn't finish off the hitters with the put-away pitch.
"It's very frustrating when you go out there and don't give your team a chance to win," Hellickson said. "When it's 5-0 in the third inning, it's tough on our guys. The good thing is that I'll be out there again in five days, and I can't wait."
Maddon said he'll continue to search for answers as to why Hellickson is not going deep in his starts these days.
"Of course, there's concern. We're just trying to figure out what we can do to help him, that's all," Maddon said. "We're not used to seeing this with him. He has reassured us that he is feeling fine."
The Rays (74-55) found the Royals to be a bother all season. Tampa Bay finished just 1-6 against Kansas City.
"I'm sure it was tough for them, in the middle of a homestand, to come here for a day game," Hosmer said.
Tough indeed. But Maddon gave all the credit to the Royals (66-64) for how they played against the Rays all year.
"They beat us up," Maddon said. "They've been really unkind to us this year."