From 2000-2020, the Royals lost at least nine games in a row 14 times. That, in and of itself, is a decent accomplishment. However, only three times did a team have at least two losing streaks of at least nine games or more, in 2005, 2006, and 2018. Today, the 2021 Royals joined those teams thanks to a loss to the Red Sox.
The 15-1 loss completed the four-game sweep for Boston and was the 2nd consecutive sweep for Kansas City, their 9th consecutive loss overall. It drops the Royals to 33-47 on the season, a 95-loss pace. This just a few weeks removed from being 29-26, an 85-win pace.
The game was mostly straightforward. Kansas City starter Kris Bubic struggled again, this time with the home run ball. Kike Hernandez led off the game with a homer in the 1st to begin a rocky 1st. Bubic hit Alex Berdugo and then walked J.D. Martinez before back-to-back ground balls got him out of the inning.
He sailed through the 2nd and 3rd inning before Martinez led off the 4th with a homer to make it 2-0. After back-to-back ground-outs, it looked like Bubic was out of trouble. But then a walk, a single, and a three-run homer from Danny Santana effectively ended Bubic’s day and put the Sox up 5-0.
Not a good day, but nothing out of the ordinary. The three-run homer was a pitch that was up and out of the zone, but Santana was still able to power it over the centerfield fence. Not necessarily a bad pitch, but also not a good one.
Ervin Santana replaced him in the 5th and immediately struggled, giving up four runs in the inning on four hits, an HBP, and a walk. The comedy of errors crescendoed with Santana dropping the ball on the mound with the bases loaded, a balk leading to the Red Sox 9th run.
Josh Staumont followed that up by giving up three runs on three hits in the 6th and the Red Sox added another in the 7th and two more in the 8th to make it 15-0.
Meanwhile, the Royals offense got some base runners but couldn’t do anything with them. A familiar tale, Kansas City went 0-4 in the first five innings with RISP. The white flag had been waved by the 5th inning, despite scoring a run in the 9th to avoid the shutout. It was a terrible day, ending a road trip where they were outscored 74-31, but more pressing is what the loss represents.
This season was filled with hope compared to the last two and while no reasonable observer expected a winning season from Kansas City, they were expected to field a more competitive team. And despite some moments of success, the Royals haven’t done that. The train is off the rails.
They entered the season with some depth at starting pitcher, which included Brady Singer and Bubic and would soon include Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar. The former have had their moments but ultimately failed to produce while the latter looked definitively overmatched when called up. Those four arms carry a large portion of the Royals’ future on their backs.
Bubic has moved between the bullpen and the rotation, while Kowar bounced into the bullpen before ultimately being sent down again. Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, and Carlos Santana have all hit, as they are expected to. But nobody else has. And it’s not like Santana or Whit have been world-beaters.
When I say nobody else has hit, I mean that every other position on the field has been filled by batters that among the worst hitters at that position in the league. It’s so bad that Nicky Lopez and his 90 wRC+ has been a bright spot.
This is not a normal recap. The Royals lost by a lot of runs in a baseball game that absolutely did happen, but that’s not what matters. We are reaching a tipping point. It’s not that Kansas City hasn’t had stretches like this before. In fact, they’ve had a ton of them.
But we are in year 15 of Dayton Moore’s run. He has two pennants and a championship to his name. This sort of baseball should not be happening in year 15. Since Moore took over, no team has fewer winning seasons or more 95+ loss seasons than the Royals. In years 1-4, it was fine. He was rebuilding one of the worst franchises in sports. But that isn’t an excuse anymore. We’re 15 years in and his teams are losing at a rate that we didn’t even see in his first four years.
With this nine-game streak, Moore’s era has just as many seasons with multiple nine-game skids as the era he was hired to tear down and rebuild. His teams very nearly set the franchise record for losses in back-to-back seasons.
It’s undeniable that there is significantly more talent in the organization than there was even two years ago, but it’s also hard to give the organization the benefit of the doubt when they have seemingly no plan for the talent they have. They not only called up Lynch before he had pitched higher than A+ ball, but also knowing he hadn’t pitched in a baseball game that counted since 2019.
Something needs to change. I don’t know if that means replacing Cal Eldred or selling hard at the trade deadline, but we’re at a breaking point and what we are seeing right now is unprofessional. By 2023, Singer, Bubic, Lynch, and Kowar, along with Asa Lacy and Bobby Witt Jr. should all be Major Leaguers. The Royals, and Dayton Moore specifically, can’t afford to see this wave of talent fall on its face.
Up Next: Royals v. Twins, Friday, July 2, 7:10 PM CDT, Kauffman Stadium. RHP Brady Singer (3-6, 4.70 ERA) v. LHP J.A. Happ (4-3, 5.83 ERA)