SEATTLE (AP)—One of the Kansas City Royals has even had to change his evening plans.
“I’m embarrassed,” right-hander Jose Lima said. “I’m embarrassed to go into a bar. The people would say, ‘They lost 18 in a row. They really stink this year.”’
The Royals lost their club-record 18th straight game Wednesday, moving within three of matching the longest skid in American League history by falling 11-5 to the Seattle Mariners.
Manager Buddy Bell rejoined the Royals after a two-game absence while attending burial services at Arlington National Cemetery for his Marine nephew, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq earlier this month.
Bell returned to the dugout and watched the Royals get closer to the AL record of 21 straight losses set by the Baltimore Orioles at the start of the 1988 season. The modern major league record for consecutive losses is 23, set by the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies.
“This is tough,” Lima said, packing to get ready to go to Oakland with the rest of the Royals. “This is something we didn’t plan. Nothing is going our way right now.”
The Royals start a three-game series at Oakland on Friday night before returning home to face Boston for three games beginning Tuesday night. They’re 0-3 against the Athletics and Red Sox, with both sweeps coming during their current streak.
Lima lost 1-0 to Mike Maroth in the second game of a doubleheader at Detroit last Sunday. He noted the Athletics, 5-3 losers to Baltimore on Wednesday, have a losing streak of their own at four straight. Like the Royals, the A’s are off Thursday.
He hopes to break his team’s losing streak.
“I hope they keep losing,” Lima said of the A’s. “I’ve just got to do my job and stay focused like my last game.”
Adrian Beltre hit a grand slam in the first inning for the Mariners, and Jamie Moyer (10-4) made the early lead stand up. Seattle’s final run came in the eighth when Kansas City reliever Mike MacDougal fielded an easy comebacker with the bases loaded and threw the ball over catcher Paul Phillips’ head.
Phillips provided the Royals’ biggest highlight, hitting a grand slam with two outs in the ninth, his first major league homer.
“I’m excited I hit a home run and I’m excited it was a grand slam, but it’s way overshadowed by the way we played,” Phillips said. “It’s never easy losing one game much less this many.”
Bell took over the Royals on May 31, three weeks after manager Tony Pena resigned. He watched D.J. Carrasco (5-7) surrender Beltre’s slam on his 17th pitch of the game.
“We’ve got to give ourselves a chance,” Bell said.
Bell doesn’t want to think about the possibility of his team tying Baltimore’s 21-game losing streak on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of history I care about, but right now I just want to move forward,” he said. “We just need to play better. Right now we’re struggling at both ends. Nobody is going to give us any pity and we’re not going to pity ourselves.”
Kansas City has given up 10 or more runs seven times during their losing streak, while pitching to a 7.40 ERA. The Royals were outscored 26-11 and outhit 37-19 in the series against the Mariners.
Moyer pitched seven strong innings as Seattle completed the sweep. Kansas City has been swept in six straight series and shut out twice during the skid. For the season, they’ve been swept 17 times.
“Teams like Kansas City coming in here are scary,” Sexson said. “Eventually, they have to win. You just hope it’s not you.”
The Royals, on pace to set a club record with 109 losses this season, didn’t get a hit until David DeJesus singled to center with one out in the fourth.
Kansas City got three hits in the sixth, with Mike Sweeney singling in DeJesus, who doubled.
One of Kansas City’s bright spots during its dreary day came in the fourth when Camp picked off Ichiro Suzuki at first base.
Carrasco dropped to 0-3 in four starts during the streak, lasting only three-plus innings. He gave up seven runs and eight hits.
“It’s kind of hard to put your team in a hole like that,” he said. “It puts a damper on things. It’s a big letdown when you give up four runs in the first inning. I take it personally.”
Moyer improved to 7-0 at Safeco Field this season, allowing one run and six hits and struck out a season-high seven.
“It makes you focus harder,” Moyer said when asked about Kansas City’s losing streak. “I was aware of it.”
The Royals, losers of 104 games last year, started this season with a nearly $37 million payroll—second-lowest among baseball’s 30 teams.
Beltre’s grand slam was the sixth of his career, first in Seattle, and the Mariners’ fourth of the season. His other slams came with the Dodgers. … The Mariners swept their fourth series of the season and second from the Royals. … Suzuki tied his season-high 11-game hitting streak.