And for the second straight game, a Royals starter did not make it past the fifth inning. On Sunday, starter Jason Hammel lamented that perhaps he was trying to pitch too fine.
On Monday, starter Jason Vargas suggested he simply didn't have the type of command he needed as he gave up four runs (three earned) in five innings. The bullpen, so solid over the last week, also collapsed, giving up eight runs in three innings.
Vargas' scoreless-innings streak ended at 15 2/3.
But the truth is, the margin for error is razor thin for Royals pitchers right now, and it may be wearing on them as they try to be too perfect, knowing one or two mistakes in a game can be too much for the offense to overcome.
"I hope that's not how they feel," manager Ned Yost said. "But the chances of that happening are probably pretty good. Guys know that pitchers are putting a little more pressure on themselves because they know we're struggling to score runs right now. So they're trying to execute their pitches maybe a little more perfectly."
Vargas, though, insisted that worrying about his team's offense is counterproductive.
"I don't think that's how I ever take the mound," Vargas said. "I can't control anything other than what I can do. To factor that in is only hazardous to your situation, so it's not something I need to worry about.
"Nobody on the other side of the ball is looking to struggle. That's not in any player's mindset. I know that every player here is trying to play well every day. Baseball is a tough game, especially to hit it. To do that with authority is tough, because the other pitchers are good as well.
"It's just one of those things that you worry about doing your job and let the other guys worry about their jobs."
Said first baseman Eric Hosmer, "Everyone here is trying to break out of this. We have to do it together."
"In the beginning of the day, when they walk through that clubhouse door, they've got energy, they've got life," Yost said. "They're working hard. At the end of the day, of course they're frustrated. Until we get through it, you don't want them to not get frustrated."