Kansas City, Mo. In a season that began with promise and is now spiraling perilously out of control, the struggling Kansas City Royals set a dubious benchmark for a once-proud franchise on Tuesday night.
Their 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins was their 11th consecutive at home.
Despite another solid performance from their pitching staff, the Royals’ woebegone offense failed to produce a single run, and the result was another frustrating night at Kauffman Stadium that left Ned Yost and just about everyone in the clubhouse searching for some elusive answers.
“We’re just not getting the job done right now. It’s plain and simple,” the Royals’ manager said. “You can come up with all the reasons and all the excuses why, but we’re just not producing offense for our pitchers right now.”
Today will be a month since the Royals last won at the K.
“It’s tough. We really want it,” reliever Bruce Chen said. “Right now things are not falling. The last thing you want to do is quit. We want to keep working hard.”
Luis Mendoza (1-3) didn’t allow a hit until Ryan Doumit’s solo homer in the fourth, but RBI singles by Doumit and Josh Willingham in the fifth chased the Royals’ right-hander from the game.
It was the 18th straight time that their starter has failed to win a decision.
Their offense has been the biggest culprit: The Royals are hitting .183 with runners in scoring position since May 21, when they led the AL with a .308 average in such situations. That includes going 0 for 7 on Tuesday night, and 2 for 27 over their past three games.
“We can’t get the guys in when we need to,” said Billy Butler, who had one of the Royals’ four hits. “I was on second with nobody out and we had a guy (Lorenzo Cain) on third with less than two out. There are two runs right there. We’ve got to pick up the easy ones when we can.”
It’s certainly not the start that Hall of Famer George Brett wanted to get off to as the team’s interim hitting coach. The Royals’ punchless offense has continued to scuffle in the five games since Jack Maloof and Andre David were reassigned and Brett given his familiar No. 5 jersey to wear.
“You just keep hoping every day you come to the park that you’re going to break out of it,” Yost said. “George is working tirelessly with these hitters, with their mental and physical approach. We come to the park everyday hoping we snap out of it.”
While the Royals have lost 22 of their last 28, the Twins have won eight of 10.
Samuel Deduno (2-1) allowed four hits over six-plus innings, and Doumit and Willingham provided enough offense before the bullpen closed things out. Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his 12th save.
“It’s trying to find a way to win,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose club lost 10 straight earlier this year. “We know we have a long way to go — we had a really bad stretch there and we’re still trying to work our way back from that thing, but there’s confidence there. We’re finding ways to win.”
Doumit has been one of the catalysts for the resurgence. He’s hitting .324 with four homers and 13 RBIs over his last eight games, which just so happens to coincide with the Twins’ hot streak.
“I’m just getting back to basics,” Doumit said. “After a slow start, I watched some video and just tried to get back and simplify things.”
Maybe that’s an approach the Royals should be taking.
Deduno, who turned heads for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, struck out five of them while walking just two. It was his second straight strong start after allowing one run on four hits in seven innings in a victory over the Brewers last Wednesday night.
“Everything was working — the fastball was working, the curveball and change-up. Everything was working,” Deduno said. “I’ve got a lot more confidence, and everything was working.”
Notes: Royals C Salvador Perez was reinstated from the restricted list and RHP Kelvin Herrera recalled from Triple-A Omaha. C Adam Moore and RHP Louis Coleman were optioned to Omaha. ... Twins OF Clete Thomas joined the team after his contract was selected from Triple-A Rochester on Monday. ... RHP J.P. Walters starts tonight for Minnesota against Royals RHP Jeremy Guthrie.