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TOR@KC: Moustakas' RBI single keeps the Royals alive

KANSAS CITY -- It could be worse. Maybe it doesn't seem that way to the Royals, but it could be.

When they lost their 10th straight game on Sunday, 5-3, to the Toronto Blue Jays, it dropped their record to 3-12.

But that's not the Royals' worst start for 15 games in their history. Oh no, the 1992 team began 1-14 and dropped two more before winning. Also, the 2006 Royals were 2-13 at this point and had lost 11 straight.

So it could be worse.

The 26,891 fans who came to Kauffman Stadium on a chilly afternoon watched the Royals fall to 0-9 at home -- the most consecutive home losses ever to start a season. The nine straight also matches the longest home drought in history, previously done in 2005 and '06.

What's a manager to do?

"You keep pushing," the Royals' Ned Yost said. "If we need to make some moves, we'll make some moves. But we're trying to stay away from that, get settled in, get a win on the board and then take off. But we can't continue this."

And, sure, it's grinding on the players.

"I'm tired of talking about how difficult it is," left fielder and team leader Alex Gordon said. "We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get a win. That's the bottom line. We need to keep our heads up. You say, 'Forget about it,' but we really need to just forget about it and play 100 percent. Quit feeling sorry for ourselves, quit hanging our heads and come out and play with all our effort. That's all we've got to do."

There's just one more chance for victory left in this 10-game homestand -- on Monday night against the Blue Jays.

On a windy Sunday afternoon that was about 55 degrees when the game ended, Royals starter Danny Duffy ran out of pitches. He got through three hitless innings and four scoreless frames, and then couldn't survive the fifth inning.

It was a messy affair that began with Rajai Davis' leadoff double. Then came a walk, RBI singles by Yunel Escobar and Jose Bautista, an intentional walk and Brett Lawrie's two-run single. Behind 4-0, Duffy was excused and Louis Coleman got the third out.

With everything added up, including five strikeouts and five walks, Duffy threw 113 pitches (66 strikes) in just 4 2/3 innings.

"I felt I made a lot of quality pitches today and they were fouled off, and what can you do about that?" Duffy said. "You can't try to make too good of a pitch. Other than that, the fifth inning was tough."

The Royals bounced back in their half with two runs against left-hander Ricky Romero. Jeff Francoeur singled and was momentarily duped, as Mike Moustakas' pop single fell in center field, by shortstop Yunel Escobar. He faked catching the ball and Francoeur stopped and started back toward first base before he realized the ball fell safely.

"Nobody really went after the ball, and Frenchy was over at second base and didn't know whether to go forward or go back. It was just an awkward play in general," Moustakas said. "It was a different play. Like you always say, you see something in this game you've never seen before and I don't think I've ever seen anything like that."

Humberto Quintero walked to load the bases. Alcides Escobar -- these teams are loaded with shortstops named Escobar -- hit a grounder to second baseman Omar Vizquel. There was a force-out at second, but Yunel Escobar threw past first base for an error. Meanwhile, Francoeur and Moustakas crossed the plate.

Quintero, forced out at second, decided to hang out at third base until the umpires shooed him into the dugout.

"He got me, but the umpire didn't call me out, so I waited to see what was going on," Quintero explained.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell claimed that by not sliding and veering to his left, Quintero in effect interfered with Escobar's ability to get off an accurate throw to first base.

"I wasn't even close to him. I went to the left side and didn't even slide into second," Quintero said. "He thought that because I didn't want to slide, it was interference but it was nothing, not even close."

The umpires agreed and shooed Farrell into his dugout.

But that's all the damage the Royals could inflict on Romero, who went eight innings.

The Blue Jays added a fifth run in the eighth with Lawrie scoring on a double steal. The Royals got a ninth-inning run on a walk, Francoeur's double and Moustakas' third hit, an RBI single, before pinch-hitter Brayan Pena rolled into a double play to end the game.

"We just haven't been hitting with runners in scoring position, lately or through this streak," Yost said.

Moustakas' last hit was the only one in 10 such at-bats for the Royals on Sunday.

The third-worst 15-game start for the Royals was in the books. They stand last in the American League Central, already 6 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit. They can only hope to avoid the fate of those teams with poorer marks after 15 games -- the 1992 club lost 90 games and finished 24 games out; the 2006 bunch lost 100 and came in 34 games behind.

Yost firmly believes that his club, youngest in the Majors and highly regarded in preseason analyses, will come out of this funk.

"I have all the confidence in the world that these guys can break loose and play really good competitive baseball," he said. "We're going to go out and compete every night, and win more than our fair share of games. We just need to get going." Comments