Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon argues with home plate umpire Greg Gibson during Monday’s game against the Kansas City Royals.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Tampa Bay Rays had to interrupt a six-game homestand to fly to Kansas City and make up a snowed-out game from May in weather that made Kauffman Stadium feel like a blast furnace.
So forgive Rays manager Joe Maddon for getting tossed early in this one.
Maddon was ejected for arguing a called third strike on David DeJesus with the bases loaded in the fourth inning Monday, but at least got to watch the rest of Tampa Bay’s 11-1 thrashing at the hands of the Royals from the air-conditioned comfort of the visiting clubhouse.
It was the Rays’ sixth consecutive loss at the K.
“It’s been exasperating. They beat us up. We don’t like Kansas City,” Maddon said, pausing, “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.”
Jeremy Guthrie (13-10) allowed six hits and three walks for Kansas City, but twice delivered timely strikeouts. He fanned Kelly Johnson with two aboard to end the third, and then struck out DeJesus on a called third strike to leave the bases loaded in the fourth.
That was the play that got Maddon tossed by plate umpire Greg Gibson.
“We just haven’t pitched well against them,” Maddon said, when asked to summarize the Rays’ struggles in Kansas City. “We’ve given them a lot of advantages with big leads.”
Jeremy Hellickson (10-8) provided that Monday. The right-hander allowed five runs in just 2 2-3 innings, his shortest start since June 30, 2012, when he went the same distance against Detroit before getting pelted in the leg by a line drive.
Hellickson fell to 0-5 in his last six starts. He’s made it through five innings once.
“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.”
Salvador Perez hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs, Billy Butler homered and drove in three, and Mike Moustakas also drove in a pair as the Royals won their second straight following a seven-game slide in which their biggest problem was scoring runs.
James Loney drove in the only run for the Rays, who no doubt rued having to make the quick trip to Kansas City in the midst of a six-game homestand. They began the day a game back of the Red Sox in the AL East and lead the American League wild-card standings.
It seemed like a season ago when the teams first tried to play. The temperature was 41 degrees with a wind chill of 21 at first pitch on May 2, and Kauffman Stadium resembled a snow globe by the fourth inning as flurries fell. The game called with the Royals leading 1-0.
It was 93 degrees at first pitch Monday, making for a 52-degree difference from the original date. Sunny skies and a slight breeze made it feel even warmer.
“Funny thing about his league sometimes,” the Royals’ Eric Hosmer said. “It’s tough for them to have to give up an off day in the middle of a homestand, but it was a good day for us.”
The biggest subplot to the game wasn’t the weather, though, but the return of Wil Myers to Kansas City. The former minor league player of the year was the key to a seven-player trade last December that netted the Royals starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.
Myers hadn’t played at the K since the All-Star Futures Game in 2012, when he went 2 for 4 and drove in the three runs. He didn’t fare nearly as well against big league pitching, either: He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, slamming his bat down after a pop out in the fifth inning.
“The fans kinds of wore me out in right field,” Myers said, “otherwise it was good.”
The Royals struck first on Butler’s RBI single in the first, but they didn’t really break through until the third inning. Three straight hits and a walk scored two runs, a sacrifice fly added another, and Justin Maxwell’s RBI single helped drive Hellickson from the game.
The Royals tacked on five more runs in the sixth against the Tampa Bay bullpen, highlighted by Perez’s three-run shot. That was more than enough for the Royals’ relief corps, which put together four shutout innings to end Guthrie’s three-game losing streak.
“The offense to me looks like it is back on track,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We put pressure on them early, scored the one, and then the third inning, the big four-run inning.”
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