Royals' offense heats up, beats up Rays

David Smale, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- All things considered, the Tampa Bay Rays really wished they didn't have to come to Kansas City Monday.
In a game that made up a snow-out on May 2, in the middle of a six-game homestand, in the middle of a pennant race, the Rays came to the Midwest for one game and got bludgeoned 11-1 by the Royals in the heat at Kauffman Stadium.
"We don't like Kansas City," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Except for the food. The Plaza is nice and the barbeque. And this is one of the best ballparks in the American League, in all of baseball really. But they just beat us up."
The temperature at game time was 93 degrees, 52 degrees higher than the temperature on May 2 -- 72 degrees warmer counting the wind chill-so the beat-down was that much more uncomfortable.
Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson's recent struggles continued. He had his shortest outing of the season, but not by much. His previous shortest stint was three starts ago, when he lasted just three innings at the Dodgers.
Over his last six starts, Hellickson (10-8) has pitched 25 innings and allowed 25 runs on 42 hits. He has failed to pitch past 4 2/3 innings in all but one of those starts. He's 0-5 in those six starts.
"He just didn't have the stuff we've seen in the past," Maddon said. "The Royals did a bunch of the damage on well-placed hits, but he did not have sharp stuff.
"Of course we have concerns (that he's hurt) and we're trying to help him. He assures us that he feels fine," Maddon said. "We've not seen this from him. There's nothing definitively different that he's doing. We've been talking about things that he has done well in the past and about repeating that. His velocity is down a tick, just a tick. The quality of his other pitches is not what it was."
The Royals, meanwhile enjoyed themselves immensely.
"The offense looks to me like it's back on track," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost. "We put pressure on them with a run in the first then the third with a four-run inning and the sixth with a five-run inning. (The order) looks kind of nice with (Emilio) Bonifacio hitting second. We can move (Eric) Hoz (Hosmer) back down to third and Billy (Butler) in the fourth."
The Royals built a big lead early and unlike this past weekend's series when they squandered big leads against the Nationals, they held on. Against the Nationals, the Royals blew leads of 6-0 and 4-0. They managed to regain the lead Sunday after coughing up the four-run lead.
Jeremy Guthrie (13-10) recorded the win on Monday. He went just five innings, giving up one run on six hits, but he threw 108 pitches in the heat. He came up big in the fourth when facing the tying run with two outs and the bases loaded.
"The last couple of games the offense has done a great job of getting us out into a lead and as pitchers we haven't done our job holding it up," Guthrie said. "That crossed my mind, especially with my tough outing last time when I had a five-run inning. I wanted to protect that lead and gain the trust of these hitters who are doing a great job."
Yost called the escape "huge."
"That was huge at that point," he said. "You know what happened in the last series. We had a six-run lead and a four-run lead yesterday. The four-run lead evaporated in three pitches. It was huge that he could get out of that and give himself some breathing room to get out of the fifth."
The Royals led 5-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, then put the game away with five more runs. The key blow was Salvador Perez' three-run home run. Butler's home run in the eighth provided the final run.
"We were bound to score some runs," Butler said. "We had a tough stretch. It's just part of the season. Guys in here never panicked. We knew we'd come out of it."
It was an inauspicious Kansas City debut for former Royals phenom Wil Myers. He was traded to Tampa in the off-season for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. Monday marked his first big league appearance at Kauffman Stadium. He finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
The Royals got one run in the first on Butler's first single. Butler came through again in the third with another RBI single. Mike Moustakas followed with an RBI double. Perez drove home Butler with a sacrifice fly and Justin Maxwell drove home Moustakas with an RBI single.
After retiring Alcides Escobar, Hellickson's day was done.
"It's very frustrating when you don't give your team a chance to win at all; 5-0 in the third," Hellickson said. "You don't give them a chance to come back. The good thing is in five days you have a chance to come back again."
The Rays got one run off of Guthrie in the fourth, and they could have had more. Matt Joyce led off with a double. With one out, James Loney singled him home. Jose Lobaton doubled Loney to third.
With two outs, Yunel Escobar walked to load the bases, but DeJesus was caught looking for the third out.
NOTES: Maddon was ejected in the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes. ... Former Ray Bonifacio went 3-for-5. ... Former Royal DeJesus was 1-for-4. ... The top five spots in the Royals lineup were 10-for-22 with three walks and nine runs scored. ... The announced attendance of 20,546 reflected the ticket sales from the ticket sales for the originally scheduled game in May.

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