Winning a game is what the Kansas City Royals would like most. The way things are going, they might settle for scoring a run.
The Royals, losers of a season-high eight straight, try to avoid a franchise record for scoreless innings when they open a three-game series against another last-place team, the Baltimore Orioles.
A 12-0 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday marked the first time in the franchise’s 36 seasons that the Royals failed to score in three consecutive games.
After managing seven hits and getting outscored 13-0 in the first two games of the series, Kansas City had six hits in Wednesday’s loss, its 13th in 14 games.
The Royals would’ve been shut out in four consecutive games if Ken Harvey hadn’t homered in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 7-1 loss at San Diego.
The streak of 27 straight scoreless innings is just shy of the franchise record of 30 2-3, set in 1981.
“Mentally, this ballclub is beat,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “It’s a tough time, but these kids are trying.”
Over their last 14 games, the Royals have been outscored 103-30 and are batting .187 as a team.
“It’s not as if we’re not trying,” right fielder Matt Stairs said. “We’re just not swinging the bat well, especially when we get men in scoring position.”
Also hurting Kansas City’s weak lineup is the absence of first baseman Mike Sweeney, who has missed the last six games with back spasms. Sweeney could return Friday.
The Orioles should be thrilled to see the Royals, since Kansas City is the only team they’ve won a series against since May 28-30.
Baltimore, which took three of four at Kansas City late last month, dropped 10 games under .500 with a 13-3 loss to visiting Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Poor pitching continues to be the biggest problem for the Orioles, who have allowed 365 walks and have a 5.05 ERA—both worst in the AL.
STANDINGS (through July 7): Royals - 5th place, 16 1/2 GB, AL Central. Orioles - 5th place, 15 GB, AL East.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Darrell May (5-9, 5.74 ERA). The left-hander rebounded from a poor outing against Baltimore with a better performance at San Diego on Saturday, allowing three earned runs and seven hits in seven innings. May had won three consecutive starts before giving up seven runs and eight hits through six innings of a 10-1 loss to the Orioles on June 28. He is 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA in six career games against Baltimore.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Erik Bedard (3-2, 3.84 ERA). Bedard has been one of the few bright spots this season for the Orioles. The left-hander is 2-0 in his last seven starts and hasn’t lost since May 25. He struck out a career-high 10 at Philadelphia on Saturday, allowing four runs and six hits in a personal-best seven innings. Bedard had the best performance of his career at Kansas City on June 28, working 6 1-3 scoreless innings in a 10-1 victory.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Harvey, .319 avg.; Sweeney, 13 HRs, 49 RBIs and 38 runs; Tony Graffanino, 8 SBs. Orioles - Melvin Mora, .347 avg. and 60 runs; Miguel Tejada, 15 HRs and 71 RBIs; Brian Roberts, 22 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Orioles, 3-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - DH Harvey is 1-for-17 in his last five games. … Kansas City is 21-35 at Camden Yards. … The Royals are averaging 2.1 runs per game since trading CF Carlos Beltran on June 24. Orioles - Baltimore is 9-17 in games started by opposing left-handers. … LF Larry Bigbie hasn’t homered in 25 games—a span of 83 at-bats. … 2B Jerry Hairston Jr. is batting .444 (16-for-36) over his last 10 games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals -10-29 on the road. Orioles - 19-24 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - 1B Sweeney (back), day-to-day; 3B Joe Randa (knee), 15-day DL; OF Juan Gonzalez (back), 15-day DL; OF Aaron Guiel (eye), 15-day DL; LHP Jeremy Affeldt (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Appier (forearm), 60-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Runelvys Hernandez (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Kyle Snyder (shoulder), 60-day DL; C Benito Santiago (hand), 60-day DL; C Kelly Stinnett (elbow), 60-day DL. Orioles - 3B Mora (hamstring), 15-day DL; RF Jay Gibbons (hip), 15-day DL; OF B.J. Surhoff (calf), 15-day DL; LHP Eric DuBose (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (knee), 60-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 60-day DL; 1B David Segui (knee), 60-day DL.