Royals' win streak ends in tough loss to Jays
Righty Santana encounters early trouble as offense comes on late
TORONTO -- The Royals' bats came to life, but it was too little too late.
After getting blanked for seven innings by Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle, Kansas City struck for a pair of runs in the eighth and had the potential game-tying run at second base in the ninth before falling short in its comeback bid.
As a result, the Royals saw their five-game winning streak end with Friday night's 3-2 loss in the series opener, spoiling a strong start from Ervin Santana before a crowd of 21,031 at Rogers Centre.
"It was a good ballgame. We went out, we battled to the end," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Buehrle pitched great, Santana pitched great, we played great defense. This one is not overly frustrating … it's one of those games.
"You don't ever want to lose at this time of the year, but it was a good game and we fought to the end -- it just didn't happen."
Buehrle stymied the Royals for seven innings before giving way to All-Star reliever Brett Cecil in the eighth.
After back-to-back singles to start the frame, Emilio Bonifacio stepped up to the plate with a chance to do some damage against his former team. Bonifacio laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Alcides Escobar and was narrowly thrown out at first base, prompting Yost to come out and argue the call. TV replays seemed to show that Bonifacio beat the throw to the bag.
"He wasn't doing much talking, I was," Yost said about his dispute with first-base umpire Will Little.
The Royals, however, weren't done. Eric Hosmer followed Bonifacio with an RBI single that chased Cecil from the game and brought the Royals within one run. Trailing 3-2, Blue Jays reliever Sergio Santos induced a pair of groundouts to strand Hosmer at second and escape the threat.
Kansas City, though, continued its late push again in the ninth against closer Casey Janssen. But with runners on first and second and one out, Janssen got pinch-hitter George Kottaras to line out before Alex Gordon grounded out to end the contest. Rookie second baseman Ryan Goins made a brilliant diving play to his left before firing a strike to first to nail Gordon, who attempted to beat it with a headfirst slide.
"Janssen did his thing," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He got a couple of guys on base but he's got that knack."
Before the late comeback, the contest flew by, as both Santana and Buehrle turned in strong performances. Santana, however, blinked early before settling down as he put his team in an early two-run hole.
Bonifacio, who started at second base, committed a throwing error which allowed Goins to reach base before Edwin Encarnacion doubled to put two on for cleanup hitter Adam Lind.
Lind responded by hitting a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a two-run single.
Santana cruised after that until Toronto struck again in the fifth. Anthony Gose led off with a triple to right-center, and came around to score on an infield single by Goins. Third baseman Mike Moustakas was unable to field the hard-hit ball cleanly, which allowed Gose to easily trot home, and gave Goins enough time to beat out the throw to first.
The Gose triple was the only pitch Santana was unhappy with over his seven innings.
"That was the only bad pitch. Other than that, everything was good," said Santana, who allowed two earned runs or fewer for the 16th time in 27 starts.
Santana, who fell to 8-8, hasn't won since an Aug. 4 outing against the Mets. The right-hander allowed four hits while walking two and striking out six. He matched Buehrle pitch for pitch following the two-run first, allowing just two hits after the opening frame.
Buehrle was just a little bit better, as he continued his string of recent success, winning his sixth consecutive decision to improve to 11-7. It was the 23rd time Buehrle has defeated the Royals in his career, which is his second-most wins against any opponent.
Over his last four starts, Buehrle has a 1.26 ERA with 21 strikeouts and six walks. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out five.
"He has so many different weapons," Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia said. "He's so good at executing a plan. He lets me do my job back there. We can definitely set up hitters different ways. He's got so many different pitches, I can try one pitch just to set up another pitch. He executes it so well."
Yost said there isn't much the opposition can do when Buehrle is on his game.
"You can't wait him out because he is always ahead in the count," Yost said. "He's throwing strikes, he's changing speeds. [You] hope he hangs one somewhere and somebody hits it.
"He was terrific. Kept the ball down, had movement on every pitch, changed speeds really, really well."
The loss was Kansas City's 10th in 14 contests against the Blue Jays, which dropped the Royals to 18-14 against the American League East this season.