Royals' 11th straight home loss sets franchise record
Offensive struggles continue as Mendoza exits early against Twins
KANSAS CITY -- There's no place like home when it comes to losing games.
That's the Royals' unpleasant situation at Kauffman Stadium, where they lost their 11th straight home game Tuesday night, 3-0, to Minnesota. And that, folks, is a franchise record, eclipsing the mark set April 13-23, 2012. Yes, that memory is also still painfully fresh.
"It's been a long time. I don't remember the last time we won at home," said shortstop Alcides Escobar.
That would be way back on May 5 -- a month ago -- when the Chicago White Sox succumbed, 6-5, in 10 innings on Alex Gordon's bases-loaded single and the Royals' record peaked at 17-10 -- ah, happy days.
Since then, the Royals have lost 22 of 28 games to sink to their present 23-32, nine games under .500 and in last place in the American League Central. The third-place Twins, meantime, have won eight of their past 10 games.
"We're just not getting the job done right now, plain and simple," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You can come up with all the reasons, all the excuses why. We're just not producing offense for our pitchers."
This was the fourth time this season the Royals have been shut out, and it came the first time that Hall of Famer George Brett was in his new role as hitting coach on home turf.
"George is working tirelessly with these hitters, with their mental approach, their physical approach, and we come to the park every day hoping we snap out of it," Yost said.
Not on this pleasant 74-degree evening with 20,134 fans welcoming the Royals home from the road. They managed just four hits, all off winning pitcher Samuel Deduno in his six-plus innings. The Twins' four relief pitchers combined to retire all nine batters they faced in the last three innings.
"It's exactly what you see out of Sammy," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He has great stuff. The ball is moving all over the place. The pitch counts jump up pretty quick in some innings, and other innings, he gets us right back in the dugout. The bottom line is he gave us a great chance to win a ballgame, and the bullpen came in and did a fantastic job. "
Twice against Deduno, the Royals led off an inning with a double -- Billy Butler in the fourth and Lorenzo Cain in the seventh -- and couldn't capitalize on it.
"Just can't get the guys in when we need to," Butler said. "I was on second with nobody out and we had a guy [Cain] on third with less than two outs -- two runs right there. We've got to pick up the easy ones when we can."
Royals starter Luis Mendoza had some control problems early -- three walks and a hit batter in the first three innings -- but the Twins didn't score until Ryan Doumit led off the fourth inning with a home run to right field.
"It was a curveball. I tried for a strike, and he made contact and did pretty well," Mendoza said.
Mendoza's pitch count rose fast and he didn't make it out of the fifth inning. Joe Mauer's double followed by singles from Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Doumit produced two more runs, and Mendoza was lifted after 95 pitches.
Luke Hochevar, despite loading the bases with a walk, got out of the inning. Then Bruce Chen took over and worked 3 2/3 scoreless innings, although three singles loaded the bases in the ninth and J.C. Gutierrez had to be summoned to get the third out.
"We're trying to do everything we can to help the team win, and obviously, right now we aren't scoring, but things are going to change," Chen said. "We're confident that if we keep pitching this way. we're going to get out of this losing streak and we're going to start winning some ballgames."
That would be uplifting for the pitching staff. The Royals' starting pitchers have started 18 consecutive games without achieving a victory. Wade Davis was the last starter to win, on May 15 in Anaheim.
"When you look at the game, I think that Mendoza, Bruce Chen and Hoch did a great job of keeping it at three," Yost said. "That's keeping us in the game. When you look at our record and we score four or more runs, we're like 16-5. So any time your pitching staff can keep the game at three or under, I think they've done a pretty good job."
Not good enough these days, however, because the offense is still struggling.
"You go down your lineup and you look at everybody we've got, and over the period of the last two or three years, they've all had extended periods of production," Yost said, ticking off the names of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Butler, Cain and Salvador Perez. "We've seen 'em do it. It's been an extended stretch where we've all struggled. Everybody in the lineup has struggled. You just keep hoping every day that you come to the park that you're going to break out of it."
The next chance comes Wednesday night against the Twins at home sweet home. They hope.